EM is now on 19 vessels, spanning multiple fleets based out of Honolulu, with plans to continue expansion!
It has been about 11 months since the first EM system was installed on a Hawaii longline limited entry permitted vessel as part of a pre-implementation initiative. Since then, a total of 19 vessels have volunteered to take EM systems with them on all of their fishing trips. This fleet is split into two different fisheries, a 100% observed swordfish fishery, and a 20% observed tuna fishery. Both fisheries use extremely similar pelagic longline gear. Vessels range from about 50’-100’ and take trips ranging from 3-6 weeks, depending on target species. These EM systems are designed to capture all catch accounting data, monitor for protected species interactions with the fishing gear, and collect other fishery dependent data used for management.
EM in these fisheries is working closely with the observer program to offer the ability to augment the observer protocols, making it possible for observers to collect more biological data. Already, the systems have captured 70+ trips and the data produced by the analysis is helping to refine EM system installations, and review protocols.
In addition, there is an active pilot study using one portable EM system on vessels from the bottomfish fleet. Hawaii’s commercial bottomfish fishery targets primarily a limited number of high valued snapper species, and one species of grouper with a main Hawaiian island annual catch limit of 318,000 pounds. The fishing vessels that make up this fishery are generally small to mid-sized vessels (20’ to 65’) and often make day or overnight trips. These relatively small vessels rarely have onboard observers to characterize the catch, fishing effort, undersized catch, or potential discards and bycatch. An EM system was adapted for this fishery and pilot testing showed that both catch data (down to species-level of fish caught) and unit effort could be derived from the video. Such high quality fisheries catch data has great potential in helping with ongoing stock assessments. In the upcoming field season, the bottomfish EM team hopes to expand use of these systems to multiple vessels to better understand the needed procedures and logistics associated with a broader expansion within the bottomfish fishery.
Both projects are housed in the International Fisheries Program of the Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center. Contact Keith Bigelow for more information.