Electronic Monitoring on the West Coast
The Electronic Monitoring (EM) Program allows vessel owners in the West Coast Groundfish Trawl Rationalization Program (or Catch Share Program) to use EM systems to provide 100 percent at-sea monitoring of fishing activity.
Electronic Monitoring Program Summary
NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region and the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) developed the West Coast Groundfish Electronic Monitoring (EM) Program to provide vessel owners participating in the Catch Share Program a monitoring option alternative to fishery observers.
The West Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program uses Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) to account pound-for-pound for all catch and bycatch of each species managed in the fishery. In order to accurately account for all species catch and discards, the West Coast Groundfish Observer Program (WCGOP) trains and deploys observers to vessels in the Catch Share Program. While onboard vessels, observers collect catch composition data used to debit vessel IFQ accounts, and monitor for compliance with regulations. The Catch Share Program requires 100 percent at-sea monitoring of all fishing trips, with vessels responsible for obtaining observer coverage, and funding deployment. The costs of observers have proven restrictive for some groundfish vessels in the Catch Share fishery. The West Coast EM program was developed as an alternative to human observers to provide cost savings and increased operational flexibility for these vessels.
The West Coast EM program established requirements for vessel owners and operators, standards for EM systems, and protocols for handling catch while using EM systems in the Catch Share Program. The EM program also established requirements for EM Service Providers, which are 3rd party companies tasked with providing EM services to the fleet. EM service providers are responsible for the installation and technical support of EM systems, and the collection and review of EM video data. EM vessels submit logbooks to report catch and discard information to NOAA Fisheries, and video data is used to audit logbooks to ensure information is accurately reported.
EM Program Start Date and Application
At the Council’s recommendation NMFS published a final rule to delay the start of the EM program until January 1, 2024.
New applications for EM Vessel permits or EM Service Provider permits are not being accepted at this time. NMFS will issue public notice announcing the date on which new applications will be accepted in advance of the January 1, 2024, start date.
Vessel Monitoring Plans
To receive authorization for the use of EM, vessel owners will be required to prepare a Vessel Monitoring plan (VMP) as part of their application submitted for NOAA Fisheries review. VMPs detail how the vessel will configure and use EM systems, and how crew will handle catch.
EM Service Provider Plans
To receive authorization to provide EM service to vessels, prospective service providers will be required to prepare Electronic Monitoring Service Plans (EMSP) that describe in detail how an EM Service Provider will provide EM services to contracted vessels.
Further information on the development of the West Coast Groundfish EM Program and rulemakings can be found below.
Applications, Guidelines, and Templates
- Vessel Monitoring Plan (VMP) Guidelines (pdf)
- Trawl VMP Template (MS Word)
- Fixed Gear VMP Template (MS Word)
- VMP Template Appendices A-B: Installation and System Malfunction (MS Word)
- VMP Template Appendix E: Short-tailed Albatross (pdf)
EM Service Providers
- 2021 Rule to Delay Implementation of EM Program (86 FR 55525, October 6, 2021)
- Final Rule for EM With Whiting and Fixed Gear (84 FR 31146, June 28, 2019)
- Proposed Rule for EM With Whiting and Fixed Gear (81 FR 61161, September 6, 2016)
Notices and Bulletins
- Webpage for Final Rule to Implement a West Coast Groundfish EM Program
- Final Rule to Delay Implementation of West Coast Groundfish Electronic Monitoring Program
- West Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program
- Groundfish on the West Coast
- West Coast Groundfish Observer Program
- U.S. Electronic Monitoring Programs
- Justin Kavanaugh, EM Program Coordinator, (206) 526-4353, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Melissa Hooper, Permits and Monitoring Branch Chief, (206) 526-4357, email@example.com
- Jon McVeigh, WCGOP Program Manager, (206) 302-2423 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Neil Riley, WCGOP Data Manager, (206) 861-7607, email@example.com