Cameras to be Used for Monitoring On Some New England Groundfish Vessels

fishing boatHARWICH – Beginning June 1, for the first time up to 20 participating fishermen from New England, including Cape Cod, will use digital cameras rather than human observers to document catch and discard information.

The goal of the test program is to use technology to provide accurate information to meet federal monitoring requirements in a cost-effective manner.

“Electronic monitoring is the only realistic solution for the small-boat fishery,” said Eric Hesse, captain of the Tenacious II, of West Barnstable. “Even if some fishermen have managed to scrape together enough daily revenue to cover the cost of human observers, it won’t take much to undo that balance. More importantly, it is a responsible step toward owning one’s impact on the resource and fishery, and as quota holders, we owe it to ourselves to minimize bycatch and fish sustainably.”

The electronic monitoring system includes the use of three to four cameras to capture all the fish handling activity on deck, and upon completion of the trip, fishermen will send the hard drives to third-party reviewers who watch the footage and quantify the amount of discarded fish, which allows regulators to use the information for catch counting.

The collaborative project includes Cape Cod’s Fixed Gear Sector, the Maine Coast Community Sector, and project oversight is provided by the Nature Conservancy.

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