Electronic Monitoring in Aquaculture

Electronic Monitoring in Aquaculture

Each year thousands of commercial shipping vessels take to the Seas to catch various kinds of fish ranging from ground fish and Scallops to fishes of all types


Each year thousands of commercial shipping vessels take to the Seas to catch various kinds of fish ranging from ground fish and Scallops to fishes of all types. Each year roughly 4 million metric tons of fish are brought to shore valued at $7 billion.  To be certain that fishing at this scale is sustainable, regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) must accurately track each vessel's catch in the areas they are responsible for.

Monitoring each and every fishing vessel of this magnitude is challenging, especially when boats operate so far from shore.  In an effort to collect data on fishing, many RFMOs mandated that observers be onboard to oversee the ethical catch and release practices are being followed and adhered to.  The only problem is that not every fishing vessel is the same and only seasoned observers know the etiquette of where to stand on the boat so as not to cause any injury or interfere during the fishing process.

Enter, Electronic Monitoring or EM as it is referred to in the aquaculture industry.  EM is a proven way for RFMOs to gain better intelligence into their areas they are responsible for.  EM systems are already installed on many fishing vessels today with adoption increasing across the board.  EM programs can generate high quality, cost effective monitoring data that an observer otherwise wouldn't be able to replicate.  By adopting EM on a fishing vessel, RFMOs are able to collect and analyze data on a fleet's catch and gauge the status of the fishing stocks to make the appropriate decisions around managing the harvest strategies and create better enforcement tools.

Electronic Monitoring

Observers have been the primary and only way to collect data on a fishing vessel's activities until recently.  However, when RFMOs ask to place more observers on a vessel to gather more intelligence around the coordinates in which they are fishing, fishers are quick to point out that placing more observers on the vessel will create challenges with lack of space and additional costs i.e.: food, water, sleeping quarters etc.

EM offers a solution that is not only cost effective but efficient.  The system generally requires a computer to be installed on board the vessel with video cameras which allows the RFMOs to monitor and record all activity in real time.  Having these systems in place is considerably cheaper than placing observers on a vessel, not to mention it takes up little to no space at all.  Generally, when a shipping vessel makes the switch to EM, they will see an estimated cost savings of roughly 30-40% less than observers.

Additionally, studies that are tracking the performance of EM have revealed that EM actually improves accuracy of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. 

Adoption Still Slow

EM is a new and upcoming technology and some fishermen are wary. Some obstacles include: 

  • An additional device to maintain on the vessel
  • Another technology to troubleshoot and maintain
  • Is Big Brother always watching me
  • We don’t catch enough fish to warrant a technology of this nature
  • Are the camera’s always recording during the day and night and in inclement weather

While these obstacles are understandable, RFMOs are asking fishermen to lean in. The cost to implement EM is inconsequential to their bottom line and in turn will boost their credibility with NOAA and other authorities.  Many companies are popping up to help take the burden off of the fishermen to fine tune their EM system.

So How Does NineTwoThree Fit In?

Oftentimes, fishermen set out to fish for days, weeks or even months depending what they are fishing.  In some cases, this could result in 20,000 hours of video footage to review.  Today, NineTwoThree Digital Ventures is working with Electronic Monitoring vendors to help parse through all the video footage.  There are many instances where weather, sunlight or darkness can obstruct the camera's field of view leaving you with hours of data and recordings that are not relevant.  NineTwoThree can incorporate Machine Learning to capture the relevant footage the RFMOs need to help them make better decisions.  From fish counting and fish identification to simply filtering out the white noise of your data and raw video, NineTwoThree Digital Ventures can assist in saving your organization time and money that you can allocate to other internal projects on your roadmap.

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