case study

Compliance monitoring in British Columbia’s sablefish seamount fishery

In 2001, Archipelago Marine Research updated an earlier compliance monitoring infrastructure at BC’s sablefish seamount fishery with an onboard electronic monitoring alternative. The new equipment allowed for rapid data processing and improved access to specific fishing activity imagery.


 

Sablefish populations on seamounts located within between 100-200 miles offshore are generally thought to be separate from the inshore populations found along the continental slope. The Canadian Department of Fisheries allowed a limited experimental fishery on seamount stocks under strict monitoring requirements to ensure that permitted vessels do not fish coastal stocks, and that only seamount-caught fish be retained on board until offloading. These measures were put in place to ensure clear separation between the special permit seamount fishery and the lucrative coastal quota fishery.

Initially, this program used at-sea observers, but in 1992, participants switched to an analog video-monitoring system. In 2001, Archipelago updated the earlier compliance monitoring infrastructure with an onboard electronic monitoring (EM) alternative. The new equipment allowed for rapid data processing and improved access to specific fishing activity imagery.

Electronic monitoring equipment was deployed for the duration of the one-month fishing permits to provide continuous recording of GPS, hydraulic and winch activity, and video imagery of the fishing deck. During this application, the the electronic monitoring technology proved to be an effective alternative, providing reliable compliance monitoring services at 20% the cost of an at-sea observer.

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