The Working Group on Technology Integration for Fishery-Dependent Data (WGTIFD) met in Copenhagen, Denmark, 7-9 May 2019 for its first meeting in its three-year multi-annual cycle. WGTIFD has diverse membership including technology service providers, academic and governmental marine institutions, and non-profit environmental organizations, across a wide range of EU, US, and Canadian fisheries. The WGTIFD’s primary objective is to examine the electronic tools and applications that are used to support fisheries-dependent data collection, both on shore and at sea, including electronic reporting, electronic monitoring, positional data systems, and observer data collection. The primary objectives of the first meeting were to inventory and review the various national fisheries dependent hardware and software applications and approaches (ToR A); define and agree on consistent vocabulary on electronic technologies (ToR B); and report on developments in machine learning and computer vision technologies and their applications in fisheries dependent data collection (ToR E). The working group was able to develop a common vocabulary of terms that can be used within the ICES community, and conducted a survey of WGTIFD participants on their experience in implementing technology for monitoring and reporting programs, and their views on strategies and incentives to engage stakeholders. This Year 1 report provides a fairly robust assessment on the available electronic technologies and how they’re being used in fisheries around the world, the successes and challenges with implementing these tools, and some of the existing applications for using machine learning for processing data in fisheries. WGTIFD also started to examine the risks and benefits of different technologies (ToR C), but does not make a full assessment or recommendation at this time. The same can be said for how to integrate data from technologies (ToR D). These topics will be examined in Year 2 and will be fully reported at the end of the multi-annual cycle.
Many technologies in fisheries are relatively new, compared with traditional data collection programs, and the working group itself is new, making it difficult to determine the reach and impact of the Year 1 report. However, technology-based programs appear to be developing and expanding rapidly, and interest in future work of the group is growing too, so it is expected that the findings will have greater impact over time. Additionally, the intial work was intentional for developing a baseline of tools and vocabulary, and it is expected that work in Year 2 on exploring trade-offs of technologies and how the data is used, will be of more interest and to a wider audience. WGTIFD will be meeting in Galway, Ireland May 11-15, 2020 to expand their work.