NEW BEDFORD — In a perfect world, Steve Kennelly sees the New England Fishery transitioning to electronic reporting within the next year.
“There’s no reason why that group can’t be formed pretty soon,” the director of IC Independent Consulting said.
The next step would be implementing electronic monitoring within 3 to 4 years.
“It’s silly to talk anywhere beyond five years out” because of how fast technology continues to evolve, Kennelly said.
The New England Fishery Management Council, which concluded two days of meetings on Wednesday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, resides in an imperfect world, though.
Some of the research presented by Kennelly and Mark Hager, of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, was based on establishing electronic reporting and monitoring from scratch. That wouldn’t entirely be the case as some fisheries and vessels are using or testing the electronic systems.
“A KISS approach – keep it simple – didn’t happen,” Kennelly said.
In gathering their research, Kennelly and Hager interviewed 79 fishermen during the last two months of 2017. Of the 79 people they spoke with, 21 were fishermen, 30 were staff from the National Marine Fishery Service and 10 were representatives from fishermen’s associations.
The discussions provided positive and negative notions about electronic systems, which Kennelly and Hager discussed in depth, however, they also revealed a lack of understanding, in their opinion.
Kennelly said some interviews were prefaced by 15 to 20 minutes of explaining the difference between electronic reporting and monitoring as well as what each could provide.
“It’s not because people are being misinformed, they’re just not as aware,” Kennelly said.