The Maine Coast Fishermen's Association (MCFA) is working with The Nature Conservancy, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Ecotrust Canada and with the support of the Island Institute to develop a cost-effective option for electronic monitoring in the New England groundfish fishery. Currently vessels on a groundfish fishing trip are required to take an observer (randomly selected) 24% of the time. Currently the costs associated with that are covered by the federal government but as funding runs out that bill is going to eventually have to come out of the boat. The current cost for an observer on the boat is roughly $800 a day which is most of the profit from a trip for our small boats. Monitoring is an important component to our management system and with electronic monitoring we hope to find a cost effective way to get the data needed by the federal government while not overly burdening our hard-working fishing fleet.
We are not the only ones working on this issue and a recent conference in Seattle, Washington (attended by our partners at TNC and GMRI) was focused on electronic monitoring and what is happening on this issue domestically and beyond.
For a report from that conference see here.