We are working with fishermen, the regional fishery management councils, and other partners to integrate technology into data collections and observations to improve the timeliness, quality, cost effectiveness, and accessibility of fishery-dependent data. Electronic monitoring has clear potential to meet these challenges by incorporating cameras, gear sensors, and electronic reporting systems into fishing operations. Since 2006, NOAA Fisheries has invested more than $27 million to develop and implement electronic technologies across the nation. We spoke with the National Electronic Technologies Coordinator, Brett Alger, to learn more about electronic monitoring and the future of technology in fishing.
How long have you been involved in electronic monitoring and reporting?
I came to headquarters 8 months ago, but I started in the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 2009 working on the groundfish fishery. Over the past 4 years, I worked on electronic monitoring projects in New England, as well as the vessel monitoring system program and electronic reporting efforts. I also had some exposure to what is happening around the country through our national electronic technologies working group.
What is your role as the National Electronic Technologies Coordinator?
I try to find similarities and differences across the regions; my role is to have a national perspective, and help develop national policies or best practices that all of our programs should be looking at. Where there are regional differences, my role is to put people in touch with one another to determine if a solution in one program can be implemented in another. It’s a balancing act between national consistencies and regional differences.
It’s also important to find similarities to provide recommendations on what we should invest in. For example, everybody has video review and storage challenges, so let’s focus on those issues nationally, rather than every region going at it alone. I hear from electronic technology service providers, non-governmental organizations, council staff, and others, so I try as best I can to help represent our programs on an array of topics across the country.
How can electronic monitoring improve fishing or management?