The Council approved a 2019 Trawl EM Cooperative Research Plan, developed by the Trawl Electronic Monitoring (EM) Committee. The 2019 cooperative research plan begins development of an EM program for compliance purposes, in accordance with Council direction from June 2018, and focuses on pelagic pollock trawl catcher vessels and tenders both delivering to shoreside processors, with a defined retention requirement. The Council also requested the EM Committee and NMFS begin working on regulatory implementation issues.
The trawl EM Committee expects EM to move more quickly for trawl vessels targeting mid-water pollock than it did for fixed gear vessels in the North Pacific. Rapid progress is expected because:
- much is already known about the EM technology;
- the Council’s (now disbanded) Fixed Gear EM Workgroup laid the groundwork for current work of the trawl EM Committee; and,
- a similar style trawl fishery in an adjacent region (West Coast Pacific whiting) is already using EM for compliance monitoring.
In June of 2018 the Council approved three objectives for the trawl EM Committee. With approval of the 2019 cooperative research plan, they also approved a fourth objective:
- Improve salmon accounting
- Reduce monitoring costs
- Improve monitoring data
- Examine retention/discard requirements (new)
The document further describes key research questions, pilot studies conducted in 2018, and project plans targeted for 2019 and 2020. All research projects are aimed at collecting information to inform the development of a pre-implementation plan as well as the development of alternatives for operationalizing EM as a compliance monitoring tool for pelagic pollock trawl catcher vessels. The EM Committee recognizes that there are further questions and potential interest in using EM on vessels conducting non-pelagic fishing and targeting multiple species, which will be addressed in the future. Staff contact for EM issues is Elizabeth Figus.