This project aimed to develop and trial a small, cost effective and portable electronic monitoring system for inshore fishing vessels, to allow more accurate monitoring of bycatch of sensitive species.
Remote electronic monitoring (REM) equipment has been used for nearly 20 years for monitoring compliance with fisheries regulations and for collecting scientific data at sea on fishing vessels. REM systems can be expensive to buy and are generally installed for the lifetime of the equipment, due to the time and cost of installation and removal.
This project developed a semi-portable UK-built REM solution from off-the-shelf parts that could be installed in less than half a day and removed in 30 minutes, potentially allowing it to be interchangeable between different vessels. The system consisted of two independent camera pods that contained their own data storage and GPS, allowing the camera pods to be independently deployable. It also had a separate “control box” with independent data storage, GPS and linked to 2 RFID (radio frequency identification) readers. During a 3-month sea trial, data was collected from 98 sea trips. Fishermen were asked to swipe RFID tags when they caught cetaceans or other protected species. Tags were also attached to their net marker buoys and were swiped during gear deployment and retrieval. This allowed soak times and net lengths, for each fishing operation to be collected.
Participating fishermen reported the RFID system as unobtrusive and easy to use. Review of the video data allowed the self-declared bycatch and gear usage to be verified. Combining the bycatch and gear data sets has the potential to allow catch per unit effort data to be calculated which is useful for assessment and management purposes.
Seascope Fisheries Research Limited