OVERVIEW OF THE FISHERY & PROGRAM
- Fishery: Pelagic longline (Swordfish/tunas)
- Geographic Scope: New England, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean regions
- EM Program Purpose: To monitor/verify bluefin tuna bycatch
- Program Implementation: June 2015
- Number of Participating Vessels: 136 eligible (approximately 110 active)
- Questions and Challenges:
The Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (AHMS) program is managed differently than other federally manages species in that it’s a single management program encompassing five Regional Management Councils as established under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. This approach was taken because it proved difficult to coordinate management actions among the New England, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Councils. The AHMS program is also responsible for implementing HMS management actions that are derived from the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT).
The AHMS EM program for the pelagic longline fishery is intended to assist in managing the HMS resources in a manner that maximizes resource sustainability and fishing opportunity, while minimizing, to the greatest extent possible, socioeconomic impacts. It also introduces new levels of individual accountability for each vessel’s fishing practices. EM is employed on vessels with an Atlantic tunas longline permit in order to verify Bluefin tuna interactions.
The program covers 136 eligible vessels (about 110 vessels are currently active) operating from Maine to Texas, and in the Caribbean. Vessels were outfitted with the camera systems in early 2015 and the system went live in June 2015. Because it was a new system covering many vessels over a wide geographic area, the first six months of the program were used to coordinate installations over 12 different ports up and down the coast and to teach fishermen and managers how the new system will work. This was done in order to familiarize all stakeholders with the system and to make it work right, rather than looking for “gotcha” moments following introduction of a new technology.
Fishermen turn on their EM systems, take their trips, and then send hard drives to an EM service provider for analysis. These third-party reviewers watch the video, count Bluefin tuna interactions (kept, discarded (alive or dead)), and then the data is used to verify what is reported by the fishermen. This is still a new EM program and participants are working through how to make it work and what the data shows. It does, however, show the potential for EM applications in widespread, diverse fisheries.
NMFS: Brad McHale – (978) 281-9260 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Fishing Industry: Terri Beideman – 609-709-3269 – email@example.com