E-monitoring for back for review

The National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS, has been working on a pilot project to see how electronic monitoring, or EM, could be used as part of the observer program.

That’s something many in the industry hoped would be part of the program all along.

Jeff Stephan, director of the United Fishermen’s Marketing Association, wrote in an email that his organization “strongly supported the concept of NMFS expeditiously moving forward on all EM fronts.”

The group had hoped NMFS would test and implement the technology widely and productively, across a range of fishing fleets, Stephan wrote.

This year the agency had difficulty getting vessels to participate in the pilot project.

In June, the council agreed to send a letter asking vessel owners to participate after the agency said that it was having trouble getting the cameras on boats.

Now NMFS is asking the council to discuss ways to incentivize participation. NMFS sent the council a letter Sept. 13 asking it to consider placing pilot program participants in the “no coverage” category so they wouldn’t have to take a human observer.

That’s something members of the industry said would help encourage participation at the June meeting. Arranging to take a camera can add time in port for a fishing vessel, and make getting out on the water a little more difficult, fishermen said. The waiver from human coverage could make it easier.

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