A program to get New England fishermen using video technology instead of human monitors to track their adherence to catch limits and document fish discarded from boats is getting mixed reviews in South Shore fishing ports.
Longtime commercial fishermen from Marshfield and Scituate said the project to equip some groundfishing boats with digital cameras comes with numerous pitfalls, including cost burdens and concerns about how video footage would be used.
Beginning this week, up to 20 groundfishermen from the Maine and Cape Cod will use three to four cameras to document fish handling on their vessels. At the end of each fishing trip, boat captains will send hard drives to third-party reviewers, who will view the footage and determine how much fish was discarded.
The Nature Conservancy is overseeing the project and hailed it Tuesday as a “new era in fisheries monitoring” that would be less costly than the current federal mandate, which requires having human monitors aboard boats on a percentage of fishing trips – at a cost to the fishermen of more than $700 a day.