How effective is electronic monitoring in mixed bottom-trawl fisheries?

Helmond, A.T.M. van; Chen, C.; Poos, J.J.


In the context of the landing obligation under the European Common Fisheries Policy, electronic monitoring (EM) is often presented as one of the solutions to fully document catches. EM includes video monitoring to record the catch handling process on board the vessels. This study evaluated the efficacy of EM for cod (Gadus morhua) catches on vessels in a mixed bottom-trawl fishery and tested the hypothesis that cod catches are difficult to detect with video monitoring, specifically in catches with large volumes of bycatch. In 2011, a catch quota pilot study started for cod in the Dutch bottom-trawl fishery in which EM was used as an audit system to review the consistency of reported cod catches. Eleven vessels joined the pilot study on a voluntary basis. Participants received a 30% increase in individual quota for cod and were compensated with extra effort in days at sea. In return, all cod catches were counted against their cod quota. This mixed bottom-trawl fishery differs from fisheries where EM was proven to be a successful method, e.g. hook and line or single-species fisheries with low bycatch volumes. We conclude that distinguishing small numbers of cod in catches of mixed bottom-trawl fisheries is difficult because there is a low correlation between logbook and video data (Pearson r = 0.17). We expect similar difficulty in other mixed demersal trawl fisheries with large bycatch volumes, when similar-looking species are targeted. Meanwhile, implementing a landing obligation will pose large challenges for fisheries with large volumes of bycatch. Limitations in the applicability of EM to control one of the most common types of fisheries in Europe will be a burden on the implementation of the European landing obligation. Improved protocols and technical adaptations may reduce some of the limitations encountered in this study.