NPFMC pleased with first steps of EM development for trawl catcher vessels in the North Pacific
At their meeting in Kodiak during June, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) received its first report from their new trawl Electronic Monitoring (EM) Workgroup. The EM Workgroup was reconstituted this April, to reflect a shift in focus from implementing EM on fixed gear vessels to developing EM on trawl catcher vessels in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.
The group was also renamed the ‘EM Committee.’
To guide development of an EM program for trawl catcher vessels, the NPFMC adopted preliminary trawl EM objectives focused on:
- improving salmon bycatch accounting;
- reducing monitoring costs; and,
- improving the overall quality of monitoring data.
Over time, trawl EM objectives may be amended or added to, but the trawl EM Committee’s initial focus will be developing a program to use EM for compliance in conjunction with a full retention requirement.
The NPFMC trawl EM Committee has outlined a rigorous work schedule that includes developing a trawl EM cooperative research plan before 2019. It is expected that progress on developing an operational trawl EM program will proceed rapidly over the next few years. This is due partly to the ability to build on the methods developed by the NPFMC fixed gear EM Workgroup between 2014 and 2018 and because there may be existing models for compliance-based trawl EM in adjacent fisheries (e.g., the west coast whiting fishery).
You can follow along with the trawl EM Committee’s progress, at: www.npfmc.org/observer-program.