Electronic Monitoring in the Northeast
We help develop and implement electronic monitoring programs in the Northeast that collect data in support of fishery management and science.
Electronic monitoring (EM) could increase the efficiency of fisheries monitoring by reducing costs, providing additional flexibility to fishermen, and speeding data transmission. There is a national effort to explore how this technology can expand and improve fisheries-dependent data collection.
How Electronic Monitoring Works
Electronic monitoring uses passive electronic systems—usually cameras and sensors— to monitor a variety of fishing activities. These include:
- Catch by species
- Fishing time and location
- Catch handling
- Catch counting
Electronic monitoring system components include:
- Control box: records and stores data (sensor and video)
- Cameras: capture fishing activity in areas where catch hauling, sorting, and discarding occurs
- GPS receiver and sensors: monitor vessel fishing locations and activity
Electronic Monitoring in the Northeast
Programs in the Northeast either estimate discards in line with current at-sea monitoring requirements, or verify compliance with fishing regulations. Electronic monitoring trips are reviewed and annotated in accordance with program-specific requirements.
Groundfish Electronic Monitoring
Electronic monitoring (EM) programs have been in development for the Northeast multispecies fishery since 2010. Starting May 1, 2021 vessels enrolled in groundfish sectors may opt for electronic monitoring (pdf, 2pg) to meet their monitoring requirement, rather than using human at-sea monitors.
In this model, EM is used to validate fishery-dependent reported discards. All regulated groundfish discards are handled and discarded in camera view to facilitate EM data collection. We can collect data on species, length, weight, count, and catch disposition. These data are used to verify industry-reported data and to manage fisheries.
Maximized Retention Model
Under this model, all allocated groundfish are retained regardless of size. Electronic monitoring verifies retention compliance and documents at-sea discarding, and is used in tandem with human dockside monitoring. The dockside monitor collects biological data on sublegal groundfish and ensures all catch is accounted for.
Electronic Monitoring for Herring
Under industry-funded monitoring regulations, at-sea monitoring requirements will apply to certain vessels that fish midwater trawl and purse seine gear. These vessels may use EM paired with portside sampling to meet the requirements. Electronic monitoring is used to monitor catch retention, while portside samplers collect biological and catch composition data.
Overall, the goal is to create affordable monitoring that increases accuracy in estimating catch of retained and discarded fish, especially for target species that have specific catch limits in the herring fishery (haddock and river herring/shad).
Technology Upgrades to Speed the Way
With the anticipated expansion of EM in the Northeast, we are developing a new database and Application Programming Interface(API). These will make it easier to use EM data in science and monitoring.
The database and API can accommodate data from multiple fisheries and programs, and align with data modernization initiatives.
The API capabilities and requirements are specified in an open-source format, easily accessed by common software tools. This will allow our API’s schema and rules to be readily understood by software developers and fishery biologists. This should remove barriers for new software providers to compete for EM work in the Greater Atlantic Region.
Regional Electronic Technologies Implementation Plans
These plans reflect each NOAA Fisheries region’s respective vision, implementation status, priorities, and challenges related to electronic technologies. The implementation plans for each region can be found here.
- Electronic Monitoring
- Industry-Funded Monitoring in the Atlantic Herring Fishery
- Electronic Monitoring for Sectors (pdf, 2pg)
- Fisheries Data Collection: Observers and Electronic Monitoring (pdf, 1pg)
- Insight: Electronic Monitoring Explained
- Fisheries Monitoring and Operations
- Training and Data Quality
- Data and Information Systems