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Project C.2.b - Pilot study of electronic monitoring (EM) of the activities and catches of longline vessels

01 Mar 2021 - 30 Apr 2023

Program(s) in charge: Ecosystem & Bycatch Program
Establish what data EM is capable of collecting aboard longline vessels greater than 20 meters length with as much precision as the observer as for target and nontarget catch data by size and species, discards, transhipments, and the potential augmentation of data for science purposes
  • Tuna CPUE modelling requires high resolution spatial-temporal size composition data to estimate relative abundance indices.
  • Current observed EPO fishing effort coverage of 5% by longline fishing vessels greater than 20 meters length, established by Resolution C-19-08 has been considered low by the IATTC staff and the IATTC Working Group on Bycatch. Instead, it’s been suggested to be raised to 20%.
  • Logistical, financial and space constrains have caused the observer placement onboard longline vessels to be difficult.
  • Shortage of human observer coverage could be achieved by electronic monitoring systems (EMS).
  • Trials on EM for longline fishing vessels have been fully developed in other regions of the Pacific Ocean, except in the EPO.
Relevance for management
  • Improved indices of relative abundance for tuna stocks will improve tuna stock assessments and therefore advise to management.
  • Size-based stock status indicators for species not monitored with assessments will improve management decisions for those species.
28 months
Workplan and status
  • [M 1-2] Solicit bids from EM companies for equipment, installation and data archiving services.
  • [M 3-5] Identify vessels willing to participate in the study. Purchase EM equipment.
  • [M 6-16] Trips with simultaneous collection of EM and observer data aboard longline vessels.
  • [M 17-21] Processing of EM data.
  • [M 22-26] Statistical comparisons. If next activity not implemented, submit report.
  • [M 27-28] If implemented, develop a sampling design for a pilot study using EM aboard longline vessels, and submit report
External collaborators
Fishing industry, technology companies
Reports for the SAC and the Commission, with recommendation of minimum data fields that can be reliably collected by EM.
Updated date: 01 May 2022
Progress summary for the reporting period
  • August-October 2021: Vessel companies agreed on the participation of the longline vessels in the project, and formalized this cooperation through Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) between the IATTC and the vessel companies. EM equipment was installed on the vessels.
  • November 2021: EM and observer data collection started aboard longline vessels.
Tasks achieved
2021: August-October:
  • The participation of three longline vessels in the project it’s been confirmed: Two Chinese-Taipei flag vessels (Yi Rong No.168 and Huang Fu), and one Ecuadorian flag vessel (Altar 10). and corresponding MOUs signed.
  • EM equipment was purchased and installed on the three vessels.
  • EM records and observer data started being collected aboard the three vessels.
  • The IATTC staff continues in conversations with the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura, INCOPESCA (Costa Rica) for the participation of a fourth longline vessel.
Tasks pending: 
  • June 2022: Start processing of EM data.
  • February 2023: Start statistical comparisons between EM and observer data and writing the report.
  • April 2023: Development of a sampling design for a pilot study using the data collected by EM aboard participating longline vessels. Report the results of this analysis .
Challenges and key lessons learnt
  • Vessel owners’ cooperation is key for the success of the project, an in particular for data collection using both EM equipment and observers.
  • Being able to cover all the elements of the longline fleet in terms of fishing operativity, fishing strategies and vessels’ infrastructure is also key to obtain a meaningful representation of longline vessels and their operability.
  • Cameras’ malfunction occurred during one trip. Problem could be temporarily solved by programming commands sent remotely by the EM provider.
  • May 2023: Progress report will be presented at SAC-14.
  • 2021-2024: A number of presentations are expected to inform the series of EM workshops that the staff is organizing.