Capability of a pilot fisheries electronic monitoring system to meet scientific and compliance monitoring objectives
Fisheries electronic monitoring (EM) is increasingly being used to augment human observer programs and provide coverage where none previously existed. This study identified observer data fields prioritized for research and compliance monitoring that were not collected by a pilot EM system and compared estimates made by the EM system and observer program. EM did not collect 64 of 101 prioritized fields. Repositioning existing or adding new cameras, integrating sensors and obtaining crew cooperation would enable the collection of most of the 64 missing fields. Almost half of missing fields could be collected dockside. The existing EM system could collect over a third of missing fields. Both the EM analyst and observer recorded the species, length and at-vessel condition of almost all retained catch, with only small differences in mean catch rates estimated by the EM analyst and observer for tunas, billfishes and other teleosts. EM performed poorly in recording species (43%), length (1%), at-vessel condition (57%) and release condition (48%) of discards. Improved views of areas where crew handle and release catch could be achieved by adding a camera to the outboard side of the rail near the hauling station, adjusting deck lighting at night and having crew bring catch that they will release in the water within the camera field of view. Accurate EM length estimates may only be possible for catch landed on deck. EM systems have the capacity to collect most fields of conventional observer programs with high precision while avoiding main sources of statistical sampling bias.