Wednesday, September 28, 2016

New Funds for Electronic Monitoring Project

The North Pacific Fisheries Association, in Homer, Alaska, has received a $595,047 National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant to support pre-implementation of electronic monitoring on up to 30 vessels in the Alaska Pacific cod fixed gear fishery.

The project will be administered by Saltwater Inc.

The project also includes $1,050,000 in matching funds, including in-kind contributions and potential funds from the National Marine Fisheries Service, according to a spokesperson for NPFA.

The project, beginning in 2017, will build on successful pilot efforts to implement a cost-effective data collection and management infrastructure to provide timely and accurate catch accounting data for fishery managers, and support implementation of electronic monitoring.

The North Pacific Fisheries Association was incorporated in 1955 as a marketing entity, negotiating salmon prices for Cook Inlet seine and gillnet harvester, and later became active also on halibut and groundfish topics.

With the development of electronic monitoring technology for use in fisheries observation and compliance, NPFA was awarded grants for 2012-2013 to develop electronic monitoring systems on under 60 foot halibut boats and 2013-2015 to develop electronic monitoring systems for under 60 foot fixed gear cod boats.

Based on findings of those pilot projects, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council recommended the pot cod fishery for pre-implementation beginning in 2017.

The project will also use and expand capabilities of an open-source data review software previously developed by Saltwater Inc. to provide a sustainable, cost effective data review infrastructure for electronic monitoring programs.

The overall effort is designed to implement electronic monitoring on a large scale to support full implementation of electronic monitoring in the Alaska pot cod fishery by 2018 or 2019, said Abigail Turner-Franke, program coordinator for NPFA.

The project fits with the Alaska Region Electronic Technologies Implementation Plan’s priority focus on electronic monitoring for small, fixed gear vessels, she said.

While the Sept. 20 deadline for the National Marine Fisheries Service electronic monitoring selection pool registration has passed, the project may be able to accept more pot cod vessels on a case-by-case basis depending on funds and available space within the program, she said. Priority is being given to smaller vessels that may have difficulties accommodating an observer on board, but otherwise acceptance has been first come, first serve, she said.

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