Electronic monitoring in fisheries of the United States
In several fisheries managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service, electronic monitoring (EM) has been implemented to meet particular goals of collecting fisheries- dependent information but none of the systems so far have included components specifically related to seabird bycatch. Pilot testing has been carried out to electronically monitor seabird interactions with third-wire cables on trawl vessels and to examine the feasibility of monitoring the use of seabird avoidance devices and seabird mortality in the Pacific halibut longline fishery. In that study, correct species identification from the EM system varied between ca 10% and 76% based on frame rate and other attributes. In a recent effort to implement EM for the fixed gear small-boat groundfish and halibut fisheries in Alaska, the pre-implementation plan for 2016 includes an objective to monitor seabirds and to monitor compliance with seabird mitigation measures. To improve the accuracy of seabird identifications additional measures are being required. If birds are caught, vessel operators will hold incidentally caught seabirds up to the camera for 2 to 3 seconds and ensure that images of certain key parts of the animal, such as the beak, are captured by the cameras to allow for species identification. Project staff hope to identify what length of imaging time is best for this identification. This paper briefly describes past studies and recent EM efforts within U.S. fisheries that relate to seabird bycatch to inform discussions within the Seabird Bycatch Working Group meeting on electronic monitoring.