In 2012 we began working with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI), The Nature Conservancy, and the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association (MCFA) to adapt our existing electronic monitoring (EM) equipment and services for the New England groundfish fishery.
Our goal is to operationalize and refine our EM system to the point that it could either support or replace the US National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) At-Sea Monitor program. If local fishing regulations and program requirements can be easily integrated into current EM technology, the switch to EM could represent a significant cost savings for a struggling industry.
In Year 1, we adapted our EM software and hardware for use on gillnetters and trawlers and sent the system out for trial runs on two MCFA boats. In Year 2 we expanded our trial to seven vessels, collecting a wealth of information on the fleet’s technical needs. Moving into Year 3, we will be exploring further system adaptations based on proposed regulatory changes and pursuing NMFS approval as a designated service provider.