A major grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) will be used to improve at-sea monitoring of Alaska’s longline fisheries via electronic monitoring (EM)technologies. The technology uses video cameras placed onboard fishing vessels to monitor catch and bycatch in lieu of human observers. Since many small boats don’t have the capacity to accommodate for an additional person during fishing trips, EM can provide the same observation and potentially be more cost effective.
Electronic monitoring as an option for small fixed gear vessels in the partial coverage sector of the observer program was approved in 2016 by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. The $577,959 grant received in February by the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Kingfisher Foundation.
ALFA’s Dan Falvey says that 117 longline EM boats signed up for 2018. Of these, 55 are new EM vessels that require EM hardware and installations. ALFA NFWF funds will be used to cover start-up costs for 26 of these vessels. Those funds will also be used to support stakeholder travel and engagement at NPFMC meetings over the next two years as EM is integrated into the observer program, and to develop new tools that prove the utility of EM data for fishermen.
Over the next two years, 120 longline vessels in Alaska will use electronic monitoring while fishing.
This is the second NFWF grant received by ALFA to assist with electronic monitoring implementation.
The NFWF grant program awarded over $3.59 million in grants this year, with those 12 awards generating $3.15 million in matching funds from grantees, for a total conservation impact of over $6.75 million.