Changes in logbook reporting by commercial fishers following the implementation of electronic monitoring in Australian Commonwealth fisheries
Technological advancement has allowed for consideration of electronic monitoring (EM) as a tool for improving the accuracy of logbook data and/or increasing the quantity of fishery-dependent data collected. In Australia, an integrated EM system was implemented in several managed fisheries, including the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery (ETBF) and the Gillnet Hook and Trap (GHAT) sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) from 1 July 2015. We compare logbook data from the first two years of EM operation to the previous six years, to measure changes in reported nominal catch and discard per unit effort (CPUE and DPUE) and interactions with protected species per-unit-effort (IPUE). We observed no significant increase in CPUE between non-EM (2009–2014) and EM (2015 and 2016) years for any species group in both the ETBF and GHAT. In contrast, DPUE increased significantly during the EM years for target, byproduct and bycatch species in the ETBF and for target species in the GHAT sector. There was a significant increase in the IPUE for seabirds, marine mammals and turtles in the ETBF and for dolphins and pinnipeds in the GHAT sector. While not discounting possible environmentally-driven shifts in availability and abundance, as well as individual vessel effects, the weight of evidence suggests the use of an integrated EM system has led to significant changes in logbook re porting of discarded catch and protected species interactions, particularly in the ETBF. Assuming this supposition is valid, we identify fishery-specific factors that might have influenced reporting behaviour.