Alaska commercial fishers will have the option to use electronic monitoring systems from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries during next year’s fishing season.
Starting in 2018, NOAA Fisheries will integrate cameras and sensors to record and monitor fishing activities, something usually done by human observers onboard commercial fishing vessels. According to a press release from NOAA, the information collected by observers is crucial for Alaska’s commercial fishing industry.
NOAA Fisheries says electronic monitoring systems can identify almost all species required for management and could collect catch and bycatch data. Jim Balsiger, NOAA regional administrator for the Alaska region, says, “this program is a first step towards automating observer data for the very specialized North Pacific fleet.”
Electronic monitoring technology would only be an option for owners and operators of fixed gear vessels who are part of the North Pacific Observer Program. According to NOAA, participation in electronic monitoring is voluntary.
This final NOAA rule becomes effective on September 7th of this year.
Image at top: Fishing vessels at the Nome harbor. Photo: Matthew Smith, KNOM.