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Electronic monitoring on-board in purse seiners. (Photo: iss-foundation.org)

'Electronic eyes' will serve as on-board observers in Indian Ocean

Click on the flag for more information about Canada CANADA
Friday, March 23, 2012, 23:30 (GMT + 9)

High-tech "electronic eyes" will soon be sent out to the Indian Ocean to monitor fishing activities in pirate-ridden waters.

The purse seine Torre Giulia will set sail next week, carrying a team of researchers and the most advanced electronic monitoring technology. The cruise is the latest installment in a global project designed to test and experiment new technologies and techniques for reducing non-targeted catch in large-scale purse seine fisheries using floating objects that attract fish (FADs), the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) reports.

This cruise is a joint scientific effort between the ISSF and the European-funded project Mitigating Adverse Ecological impacts of open ocean fisheries targeting large pelagic fish in the open ocean.

The video-based electronic monitoring system, designed by Victoria-based Archipelago Marine Research, has been used for seven years to monitor fisheries on British Columbia's (BC) groundfish fleet.

"The interest that we have in our equipment is very broad. It is across a wide range of fisheries," said Howard McElderry, VP of electronic monitoring for Archipelago.

Archipelago’s systems observe, record and review fishing operations and log data such as vessel location, speed and direction. Cameras record scenes such as fish being hauled on board, being processed and discarded, Times Colonist reports.

Fisheries managers use the technology to help maintain quotas, catches of protected species and bycatch mitigation strategies. It is used to help authenticate log books, enforce regulations and support sustainable management methods.

Archipelago's equipment will be used on two fishing trips on purse seiners late this month to participate in a trial of Archipelago's system.

Fishing in the Indian Ocean will run until late June. It follows trials on a Spanish-owned tuna boat operating off West Africa.

The trials represent the "first tropical tuna vessel" to test Archipelago’s electronic monitoring system, the company said.

Spanish firm PEVASA offered its purse seiner Playa de Bakio for the initial trial for two fishing trips off Africa. Archipelago is partaking in the trial on behalf of the ISSF, a joint effort supported by an onboard observer from the research centre AZTITecnalia.

Playa de Bakio's equipment was installed in November and its latest trip ends this month, McElderry said.

“It appears there will be another pilot project with tuna boats in the Western Pacific in the next month or so," McElderry commented.

Globally, the tuna fishery has about 600 vessels, he said.

"There's a fairly strong move to much, much, much higher levels, if not 100 per cent monitoring across the entire fishery," he stated.

While the fleet already has well-established on-board observer programmes in some regions, other areas like the Indian Ocean preclude the use of human observers because of piracy, so this technology allows for the expansion of monitoring in those areas, he said.

"There isn't an equivalent technology in use anywhere in the world,” stated Shawn Stebbins, Archipelago president and CEO. “There are some that are similar but not applied in the same way that we've applied. There's interest in looking at what's been done in BC."

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com


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