New technology for monitoring catches of vessels fishing in Pacific Island waters is being tested on two large Chinese Taipei flagged tuna longliners.
The vessels were fitted with video electronic monitoring systems in early March before fishing in the Solomon Islands EEZ (exclusive economic zone) for a trip of almost 80 days.
The electronic monitoring system, or ’e-monitoring’, installed onboard uses high-definition video cameras, GPS and a central unit to record all events and video footage.
The main aim of the project is to investigate how e-monitoring works for collecting accurate information on the fishing activities of tuna longline fishing vessels. .
This information, including catch number and type, is critical in providing the best scientific and management advice to ensure sustainable fishing.
The e-monitoring data collected from these first trips is now being analysed by experienced longline fisheries observers.
The analysis will take twenty working days for each vessel. The ‘dry’ observers will record all aspects of the fishing activity, including identifying fishing locations, the catch composition, and the fate of any bycatch taken.
As part of the project, the e-monitoring results will be compared to the information collected by two independent fisheries observers, who were also assigned to each vessel to carry out their regular task of observing and recording the catch.
Preliminary findings will be presented at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s annual Scientific Committee meeting to be held in Majuro in August this year.
Implementing e-monitoring technology in all or parts of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean fisheries will require logistical and legal frameworks to be put in place at national and regional levels.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) knowledge and experience in managing observer data and the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) expertise in fisheries legislative mechanisms mean that an SPC/FFA partnership will be paramount if the decision is made to advance e-monitoring in the region.
The project partners are Tri Marine, National Fisheries Developments (NFD), Yi Man Fishing Company, Satlink, FFA, SPC, and Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR).
The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is also a major contributor through support of the Regional Electronic Reporting Coordinator position contracted by SPC.