» Electronic Monitoring in Quinault’s Crab Fleet Ecotrust Canada
Tucked away on the western shores of Washington State lies the small town of Westport, home to the Quinault Indian Nation’s fishing fleet – and a quiet shift in American fisheries management.

The Quinault Indian Nation’s Dungeness crab fleet consists of 25 vessels that deploy approximately 10,000 crab traps per season. The fleet has recognized the need to track fishing activity, and specifically track location of traps for both retrieval of derelict gear and to try to reduce the occurrence of gear tampering. Coupled with an industry-wide recognition that fishing has become more difficult due to environmental and enforcement issues, these fishermen are embracing a new type of data collection that can help them manage these challenges. The Quinault are leading the drive for better and more transparent data collection in Washington State’s Dungeness crab fishery.

US fisheries policy encourages co-management of fisheries with native tribes at both the state and federal levels. Our electronic monitoring emphasizes data accessibility, providing the Quinault with information they can use to better carry out this co-management.

 

Quinault EM docks   Quinault EM screen

 

Electronic monitoring data is helping to track crab pot deployment numbers and locations, limit illegal activity, and gain more information about crab population trends and movements.

As strings of traps are set and retrieved, an onboard scanner reads an RFID chip that has been embedded in marker buoys. With each scan, our computer also records time, location, and gear data, giving fisheries managers an unprecedented look at crab fishing locations, effort, enforcement, and biology.

Three Quinault vessels piloted the program in 2014. One year later, the whole Quinault fleet is sporting Ecotrust Canada’s EM boxes, and they’re hoping non-Native commercial crab fishermen will join them in their push for greater transparency and accountability.

Learn more about our Electronic Monitoring program here.