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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 2023
Progress summary for the reporting period
Progress summary for the reporting period:
  • January 2022: A problem was detected with two cameras that were recording the catch activities on board one of the vessels. The period of sampling for that vessel was extended accordingly.  
  • May-June 2022: General aspects of the project were presented at the IOTC 2nd Working Group on EM Standards and at a Global EM Symposium organized by PEW.
  • August-September 2022: After 6 months collecting EM records, the vessel Altar 10 was replaced by the vessel Altar 21 due to changes in fishing gear and fishing target on the former vessel.  
  • February 2023: EM analysis process started. 
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.
  • A second Ecuadorian flag vessel (Altar 21) was incorporated in August 2022. 
  • EM equipment was purchased and installed on the three vessels.
  • EM records and observer data started being collected aboard the participant vessels.
  • EM analysis commenced.
  • Conversations started with other longline fleets in the region to conduct similar pilot studies.
Tasks pending: 
  • June 2023: Continuation of EM analysis and processing of EM data.
  • November 2023: Start statistical comparisons between EM and observer data and writing the report.
  • April 2024: If data allows, begin with the development of a sampling design for using EM aboard longline vessels.  
Challenges and key lessons learnt
  • Vessel owners’ cooperation is key for the success of the project, and in particular for data collection using both EM equipment and observers.  
  • Changes in vessel participation caused the need for one-year EM records collecting for the replacement vessel (Altar 21), which further extended the project schedule as a result.
  • 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. Because of this, the IATTC staff is in conversations with other longline fleets operating in the region to potentially expand these efforts.  
  • Cameras’ malfunction occurred during one trip. Problem could be temporarily solved by programming commands sent remotely by the EM provider. This inconvenient caused the sampling period for that vessel to be extended accordingly.  
  • The long duration of the longline fishing trips made it impossible to receive the EM records in a timely manner which can impact the work schedule of the project. Different strategies were discussed and implemented to receive the EM records before the end of the regular fishing trip. Despite some of these efforts, the time taken to obtain the EM records was significant in most of the cases. 
  • 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.
The staff is currently preparing a project extension proposal for a total of 40 months due to matters related to malfunctions with the EM equipment, delays in EM records retrieval and changes in the participation of one longline vessel.