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Electronic Monitoring Video Data that are Federal Records: Notice of Availability of NARA Records Disposition Schedule & Request for Public Comment


Action Status


This notice announces the availability of NOAA Fisheries’ request for records disposition authority (records schedule) from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for Electronic Monitoring (EM) data that are created or received by NOAA Fisheries and subject to the Federal Records Act (FRA). NARA publishes notices in the Federal Register and on regulations.gov for records schedules in which agencies propose to dispose of records they no longer need to conduct agency business. Agencies may not destroy Federal records without the approval of the Archivist of the United States. Public review and comment on these records schedules is part of the Archivist’s consideration process.

EM systems typically include a global positioning system (GPS) receiver, fishing gear sensors (e.g., to detect when fishing operations have begun and concluded), and multiple cameras, all linked to an onboard control center. All of the raw data collected with these tools are stored onboard, and once the vessel reaches port, the data are transmitted for review via a portable hard drive or wirelessly. In some EM programs, the data are reviewed and analyzed initially by a third-party service provider that is retained by fishermen and provide fishery information to NOAA Fisheries. In other programs, NOAA Fisheries conducts the review and initial analysis. 

Currently, the raw imagery and other data collected by EM systems are generally treated the same as fishery observer data for retention purposes under the NARA, and are retained permanently. This is problematic because the amount and types of data collected from EM systems (e.g., video and other data that are often in the form of large multimedia files such as MPEG-4 files) are categorically different from that of traditional at-sea observer data collection (i.e., paper forms, logbooks, and reports), and are costly to store indefinitely. In addition, once the data collected by EM systems are reviewed and analyzed, the need to retain the original imagery and data declines over time. An effective retention schedule balances the tradeoffs of EM data retention to effectively meet program objectives and monitor compliance with regulations.

Under this proposed schedule, the raw EM imagery and data can be destroyed five years after creation or receipt of video, but longer retention is authorized if required for use by NOAA Fisheries. Any summary data (e.g., compliance reports, catch and effort information) that may be generated in the review and initial analysis process would be transferred to the appropriate system or database and used for program objectives, such as stock assessments, quota monitoring, or compliance with fishery regulations. This will ensure that NOAA Fisheries has a record of the underlying raw EM imagery and data for five years to carry out conservation and management activities.

Last updated on 08/07/2020