In Kodiak, the Council received an update about fixed gear and trawl EM development from the Electronic Monitoring Workgroup (which has now been renamed the EM Committee) and endorsed preliminary monitoring objectives for trawl EM development.
In April 2018, the Council reconstituted membership on the EM Workgroup to reflect a transition from the development and recent implementation of EM for fixed gear, to a new focus on developing EM systems on trawl catcher vessels in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. The old and new memberships held a joint transition meeting in May. During the portion of the meeting devoted to fixed gear, the group developed a list of remaining fixed gear EM implementation topics to handover to the OAC (now renamed as the Fishery Monitoring Advisory Committee), which will now regularly advise on the integrated observer and EM program.
To guide the development of an EM program for trawl catcher vessels, the Council adopted the following preliminary monitoring objectives as recommended by the trawl EM Workgroup (now EM Committee):
- improve salmon accounting;
- reduce monitoring costs; and,
- improve the quality of monitoring data.
The Council appreciates these are preliminary objectives which may be amended or added to in the future. The Council endorsed the group’s initial focus on developing a program to use EM on trawl vessels for compliance purposes, in conjunction with a full retention requirement, and directed the trawl EM Committee to develop a cooperative research plan for 2019.
The Council appreciated the rigorous schedule outlined by the trawl group to develop the cooperative research plan, and expects that progress on developing a trawl EM program may proceed more rapidly than occurred with fixed gear. This is due partly to the ability to build on the methods developed for the fixed gear approach, and also because there may be models from compliance-based trawl EM models in other regions (e.g., the west coast whiting fishery). Rapid progress is dependent on securing external funding for the earliest stages of trawl EM development, as revenue from the partial coverage observer fee can only be used to support EM once a program is implemented. The Council encourages trawl EM Workgroup members to apply for grants to support field work in 2019. Without such funding, some areas (e.g., the western GOA) may be delayed by a year in EM implementation. Staff contact is Elizabeth Figus.