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
The EM regulatory Program will begin on January 1, 2024. All vessel owners who choose to use EM to fulfill their at-sea monitoring requirements in 2024 must be authorized by NMFS under the new program, regardless of their EM exempted fishing permit (EFP) history. To apply, vessel owners must complete the annual online application for EM authorization. There are two deadlines for applications: October 1st to receive EM authorization by January 1st of the following year; and February 1st to receive EM authorization by May 1st of the same year (coinciding with the start of Pacific whiting season). However, NMFS will continue to accept and process applications as soon as practicable during the inaugural application periods.
EM service providers must complete the biennial online application for an EM service provider permit. The deadline to submit applications for a January 1st start date is June 1st of the previous year. The 2024 application deadline closed and NMFS issued provider permits for cycle 2024-2025.
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
- Electronic Monitoring Program Manual - Updated November 2023 (pdf)
- EM System Certification Form
- Online Application for Vessel EM Authorization
- Vessel Monitoring Plan (VMP) Guidelines - Updated November 2023 (pdf)
- Trawl VMP Template - Updated November 2023 (MS Word)
- Fixed Gear VMP Template - Updated November 2023 (MS Word)
- VMP Template Appendices A-B: Installation and System Malfunction (MS Word)
- VMP Template Appendix E: Short-tailed Albatross (pdf)
- List of Approved EM Service Providers
EM Service Providers
- 2023 Final Rule extending the processing and reporting deadlines for EM program service providers (88 FR 81354, November 22, 2023)
- 2022 Final Rule for EM Program Regulations for Bottom Trawl and Non-Whiting Midwater Trawl Vessel (87 FR 59705, October 3, 2022)
- 2022 Final Rule for Pink Shrimp and Midwater Trawl Exemptions to Vessel Monitoring System Requirements (87 FR 11597, March 2, 2022)
- 2022 Proposed Rule for EM Program Regulations for Bottom Trawl and Non-Whiting Midwater Trawl Vessels (87 FR 11382, March 1, 2022)
- 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
- Advance Notice of Electronic Monitoring Regulatory Program
- Notice of EM Program Guidelines (86 FR 27833, May 24, 2021)
- Groundfish Electronic Monitoring Program: Changes to Service Provider Requirements
- 2024 West Coast Region Electronic Monitoring Program: Updates and Reminders
- 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, email@example.com
- Lyle Enriquez, Permits and Monitoring Branch Chief, (562) 980-4025, Lyle.Enriquez@noaa.gov
- Jon McVeigh, WCGOP Program Manager, (206) 302-2423, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Neil Riley, WCGOP Data Manager, (206) 861-7607, email@example.com