NOAA Fisheries Works with Partners to Implement Electronic Monitoring in the Pacific Islands Region

Feature Story
Domestic fishing village in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center teamed up with the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, an electronic monitoring systems provider (Saltwater Inc.) and the local longline fishing industry to implement electronic monitoring in the Pacific Islands region.  By the end of the first year, 18 vessels had volunteered to carry monitoring systems on all fishing trips. This strong government-industry collaboration resulted in electronic monitoring systems recording 116 trips in 2017, representing 7.5 percent of annual trips in the fishery. The project objectives include counting species caught, monitoring for protected species, and collecting other fisheries-dependent data.  Coordination with the Pacific Islands Regional Observer Program has allowed for data comparisons between electronic monitoring and at-sea observer data. This evaluation helps to ground truth and calibrate the data output. 

The volunteer vessels have been extremely supportive of the electronic monitoring data collection effort. Many captains report that they are able to better supervise their fishing operations using the monitoring system's cameras as a real-time vessel monitoring system. Captains find they can focus on wheelhouse responsibilities, while simultaneously keeping an eye on the deck, in case they are needed.  One vessel reported that during a mechanical issue, the captain was able to use the cameras to safely and effectively coordinate with crew members to resolve the issue. In the long term, NOAA Fisheries hopes to realize a symbiosis between the vessels and the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, where both parties are getting valuable information from the systems.

Currently, the system is still being refined to allow the optimal observation perspectives. By making adjustments to the cameras based on recommendations from the Joint Institute, which handles data extraction and analysis in collaboration with the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, the systems were able to show significant improvements in data collection during the first year. The Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center is proud of the progress made on this difficult effort.  With many year-one hurdles overcome, the electronic monitoring team will continue to refine the systems and review schemes in year-two.

For more information, contact Keith Bigelow at 


Successful fisheries management is dependent upon the collection of data from fishing activities. Learn how NOAA Fisheries is investing in technology fishermen use to track their catch.