Electronic Monitoring for New England Fisheries Receives Boost in Funding

BOSTON – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is teaming up with a pair of foundations to fund multiple projects designed to make improvements to the electric monitoring of fisheries in the country.

Fisheries in the United States are subject to monitoring, which assists marine biologists and policy makers in determining future rules that should be established to protect certain populations of species.

Some fisheries and state governments across the country, however, have advocated for electronic monitoring over human-led monitoring as a more efficient and less invasive method.

“It is logistically easier for captains, safer, and usually cheaper. Fisherman generally prefer the cameras to humans once they get used to the system. The cameras are in use in fisheries across the world. So, this project isn’t really about proving that the hardware works to identify fish and can stand-in for humans,” Melissa Sanderson, the Chief Operating Officer of the Cape Cod Commercial Fisherman’s Alliance, explained.

“This project is important because the New England Fishery Management Council has recognized that the current level of observer coverage in the ground fish fishery is not working.”

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Kingfisher Foundation have partnered with NOAA to award nearly $3.8 million in grant funding for electronic monitoring to 15 fisheries. Those 15 fisheries have matched the grants with over $5 million of their own.

The projects are meant for fisheries in New England, Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere in the country. The Cape Cod Fisherman’s Alliance received the largest grant, nearly $570,000, to electronically monitor New England’s ground-fishery.

“The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has renewed funding for another year of electronic monitoring pilots in the region. This will be the fourth year that Cape Cod has received funding from them,” Sanderson said.

The project is a collaborative effort between the Cape Cod Commercial Fisherman’s Alliance, the Maine Coast Fisherman’s Association, the Nature Conservancy, who has partnered with NOAA’s Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office and the Northeast Atlantic Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole.

By TIM DUNN, CapeCod.com News Center

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