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NOAA Fisheries Announces Policy for Electronic Monitoring Cost Reimbursement for Groundfish Sectors

April 02, 2021

We are announcing the details of our policy to reimburse electronic monitoring costs in addition to human at-sea monitoring costs, while funds are available. We encourage industry to purchase and install electronic systems now.

Electronic Monitoring Reimbursement

For fishing year 2021, groundfish sector vessels may use either electronic monitoring or human at-sea monitors to meet the monitoring requirements, provided the sector has a corresponding monitoring program as part of its approved operations plan, or if a vessel is enrolled in an electronic monitoring program operating under an exempted fishing permit. Vessels that choose to use operational electronic monitoring or an electronic monitoring exempted fishing permit to meet sector monitoring requirements will be eligible for reimbursement, while government funding is available. Because electronic monitoring program costs differ from the human at-sea monitoring costs we reimburse, we have developed guidance to assist electronic monitoring service providers and sectors in understanding which electronic monitoring costs are eligible for reimbursement. Table 1 below describes the reimbursable cost categories for an electronic monitoring program. Sectors should submit receipts for reimbursable costs to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission for reimbursement using the same process as at-sea monitoring reimbursement.  

Invoices submitted to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission should breakdown costs at the following levels:

  • Equipment and technical support costs should be billed at the vessel-level.
  • Video review costs should be billed at the trip-level.
  • Training and operational costs should be billed at the sector-level.

Some cost categories are not eligible for reimbursement.  Examples of ineligible costs include, but are not limited to:

  • Research and development for machine learning and artificial intelligence.
  • Portside infrastructure (e.g., hotspots).
  • Electronic monitoring equipment that is not necessary for the vessel to meet monitoring requirements (e.g., engine room cameras). 

Table 1: EM Cost Categories

Program Cost Categories

Brief Description of Included Costs


Purchase or lease of equipment to outfit a vessel with one (1) fully functioning electronic monitoring (EM) system. Costs incurred may include, but are not limited to, hardware (e.g., cameras, hard drives, etc.), software, and other materials needed to comply with program requirements.

Technical Support

All in-the-field and remote-based technical support and services provided to EM vessels including, but not limited to, equipment installations and maintenance (e.g., software system upgrades, camera replacements), travel costs, training captains and crew, troubleshooting and repair of EM systems, and development of vessel monitoring plans (e.g., catch handling protocols).

Video Review

All costs associated with transmitting, processing, and reviewing EM data (i.e., imagery and associated metadata).  Example costs include the video and data transmission costs (whether by physical transfer, mailing, or electronically); time spent reviewing and processing data for a selected trip (regardless of whether manual or automated methods are used). EM service providers’ time spent reviewing video is dependent on a number of factors including, but not limited to, trip duration, catch handling onboard, video quality, catch composition, and reviewer experience.

Operational Costs

All other costs associated with an operational EM program that complies with NOAA Fisheries’ standards and requirements. Costs may include, but are not limited to program management and overhead costs, costs associated with annual video review software upgrades required by NOAA Fisheries, data storage costs, which may vary based on format (i.e., cloud, on-site servers) and video specifications (i.e., resolution, frame rate, bit rate).  Program costs may vary depending on services offered by third-party providers.


Costs associated with third-party video reviewers attending the NEFSC's EM training course, including time spent traveling and in training, travel mileage to and from the training, lodging, per diem, etc.

COVID Protocols***

Costs associated with third-party service providers adhering to COVID safety protocols, including acquiring personal protective equipment, quarantining, and testing as necessary.

*Hardware must be procured by an approved service provider and meet program standards and requirements. 
** If specified in contract.
***These costs may be billed directly to Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.


We encourage vessels interested in using electronic monitoring to meet sector monitoring requirements to purchase and install electronic monitoring systems now in preparation for the New England Fishery Management Council’s decision to increase the target sector coverage rate on May 1, 2022. Any vessel interested in using electronic monitoring in fishing years 2021 or 2022 is eligible to be reimbursed for any associated costs incurred in advance of joining an electronic monitoring program.


Last updated by Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office on April 19, 2022