Blue Harvest opts-into pilot program for electronic monitoring with goal of improving catch data and reducing costs.

Electronic monitoring is a relatively new concept that, when used in tandem with independent dockside monitoring of vessel offloading, ensures your seafood is properly identified, is sustainably harvested and is fully traceable to the source.

Blue Harvest recently outfitted two of our groundfish vessels, the F/V Teresa Maria IV and F/V Blue Canyon, with electronic monitoring equipment. This was done in partnership with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, an independent nonprofit dedicated to the resilience of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem and the nearby communities that depend on it. The goal is to validate the widespread adoption of electronic monitoring in the New England groundfish fishery.

Electronic monitoring camera

What is electronic monitoring?

Electronic monitoring is a tool that is used to collect fishing data, including the number of fish that are caught, hours fishing or days at sea, discard events, and bycatch or unintentional catch. Video cameras, GPS and sensors are used to record all of the fishing activity on the vessel from the moment the nets go into the water until the catch is sorted, cleaned and stored. The video record of all fishing activity is later reviewed by trained personnel to verify that the vessel followed all applicable fishery regulations.

Why use electronic monitoring?

Most of the monitoring work being done today is by at-sea observers. They are responsible for verifying the vessel’s retained catch, area fished and discard rate – the amount of undersized regulated fish and unintentional catch that is discarded.

At-sea monitoring can be expensive, and electronic monitoring (EM) offers a way to significantly reduce the costs associated with at-sea observers. The New England Fishery Management Council estimates that electronic monitoring will cost about half of what human monitors cost to the vessel.  Using electronic monitoring will also reduce the space, safety, and scheduling issues that come with the use of human at-sea monitors. Estimates put actual at-sea coverage prior to the COVID-19 pandemic at only around 15%.

Electronic monitoring data can also be useful to regional fishing management organizations when gauging the status of fish stocks and adopting sustainable harvest strategies.

Want to learn more about our sustainable fishing practices? Visit our Stewardship page for more information.