Council recognizes an implementation milestone has been achieved; sets new objectives
At their meeting in Seattle during February, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) recognized the success of its working group on EM projects and moved to shift its focus from fixed gear applications towards the trawl fleets.
The NPFMC originally formed an EM Workgroup in February 2014, to create a forum for industry/government joint oversight of the cooperative research program that served as the basis for developing programs for EM integration in federal fisheries off Alaska. The group has since become the primary tool used by the NPFMC to make consistent and ongoing progress with EM. The EM Workgroup provides a space for industry members, agency representatives, and EM service providers to collaboratively design, test and develop electronic monitoring systems to suit the needs of Alaskan fisheries. Initially focused on fixed gear vessels, members of the workgroup developed the recently implemented program for integrating EM systems onto pot, longline, and jig vessels across Alaska.
After reviewing the status of EM at their recent meeting in Seattle, the NPFMC continues to find the EM Workgroup to be the most effective way to design and implement EM programs in Alaska. With 2018 bringing full implementation for EM on fixed gear vessels in Alaska, the NPFMC is ready to shift the focus of the group. In Seattle, the NPFMC decided to steer the EM Workgroup away from fixed gear vessels for the time-being, and towards further developments in EM for trawl vessels. “All the feedback we received from the Council was positive, and there was unanimous agreement about focusing our attention next on EM for trawl vessels,” said Bill Tweit, Chair of the workgroup.
A call for nominations is open until the end of March, seeking representatives from trawl catcher vessels fishing in Alaska to join the NPFMC EM Workgroup. As a first task, the reconstituted EM Workgroup will assess the ways in which EM can meet monitoring objectives for different trawl fisheries operating off Alaska.
The NPFMC also noted the importance of passing on the legacy of information from fixed gear EM Workgroup members to the newer trawl members. Therefore, the NPFMC is planning to host a mixed meeting of fishery representatives at the EM Workgroup meeting this May to facilitate the cooperation and passage of knowledge between the fixed gear fleets and the trawl fleets.