EM trials and fully implemented programs on world map. Figure courtesy of van Helmond et al. 2019.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, electronic monitoring (EM) has emerged as a cost‐efficient supplement to existing catch monitoring programmes in fisheries. An EM system consists of various activity sensors and cameras positioned on vessels to remotely record fishing activity and catches. The first objective of this review was to describe the state of play of EM in fisheries worldwide and to present the insights gained on this technology based on 100 EM trials and 12 fully implemented programmes. Despite its advantages, and its global use for monitoring, progresses in implementation in some important fishing regions are slow. Within this context, the second objective was to discuss more specifically the European experiences gained through 16 trials. Findings show that the three major benefits of EM were as follows: (a) cost‐efficiency, (b) the potential to provide more representative coverage of the fleet than any observer programme and (c) the enhanced registration of fishing activity and location. Electronic monitoring can incentivize better compliance and discard reduction, but the fishing managers and industry are often reluctant to its uptake. Improved understanding of the fisher’s concerns, for example intrusion of privacy, liability and costs, and better exploration of EM benefits, for example increased traceability, sustainability claims and market access, may enhance implementation on a larger scale. In conclusion, EM as a monitoring tool embodies various solid strengths that are not diminished by its weaknesses. Electronic monitoring has the opportunity to be a powerful tool in the future monitoring of fisheries, particularly when integrated within existing monitoring programmes.