Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Crabbers Applaud Success of Test Logbooks During Snow Crab Fishery

Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers (ABSC) are hailing as a success a test of electronic logbooks during the opillio (snow) season.

The effort involved those aboard four vessels who volunteered to trial Real Time Data’s (RTD) Deckhand Pro platform for the duration of the 2021 snow crab season. The captains provided RTD with feedback on the feasibility and willingness to incorporate electronic logbooks into their daily operations.

For years, crab and groundfish harvesters have filled out the National Marine Fisheries Service Daily Fishing Logbook (DFL), which requires skippers to input all data by hand, including the latitude and longitude positions of each string of gear, gear identification information and data on bycatch and target species. To many skippers this has proven an arduous task and, they told the RTD staff, sometimes unsafe recordkeeping process.

Jamie Goen, executive director for ABSC, said her organization is looking forward to working with RTD to further develop a tool that’s useful and easy for their skippers to use for their own data needs, and is responsive to federal and state reporting requirements.

For the trial run, a basic version of Deckhand was used to replicate the DFL and the company says that version of Deckhand can be customized further for the Bering Sea crab fishery. Fishermen engaged in the trial run were able to keep in touch with RTD 24/7 throughout the season via marine broadband, to offer input and advise on bugs or other issues with the electronic device.

One of the skippers, Mark Casto of the f/v Pinnacle, said that he is looking forward to working with RTD in the future to help make this electronic logbook a fixture in the crab fisheries.

Lange Solberg, business development manager for Real Time Data North America, said that from a proof-of-concept standpoint his firm was pleased with the trial. Using Deckhand Pro in a test scenario was totally an extra thing for the participants to take on, on top of all their other responsibilities, but it is clear to us that this is where fishermen want to go, he said.

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