Electronic monitoring (EM) consisting of on-board video imagery and on-shore analysis, offers an alternative or supplement to at-sea observer programs in commercial fisheries. In the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO), where observer coverage in most tuna longline fisheries has historically been < 5%, the advent of EM has been perceived as a tool for meeting international data collection and exchange obligations. However, the capability of EM to collect and support interpretation of records into data for all fields currently collected by at-sea observers is still under assessment. We use the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) as a case-study to evaluate the longline WCPFC regional observer programme minimum standard data fields, their current scientific application, the proportion of member countries exchanging data and the capability of EM technology to collect these fields. We identify that 78% of the longline fields can be collected with current EM technology, with 84% of these used in scientific analyses. For the 16% of fields not routinely used in scientific analyses, the introduction of EM may facilitate a sufficient increase in data availability to support their future use. Alternative tools would be required to collect fields that EM could not record to ensure data continuity and scientific rigour are not compromised. In examining the capability of EM in the context of WCPFC member state requirements under international law, we advocate for a holistic and integrated approach to the use of EM in future research and monitoring programs in both the WCPO and global longline fisheries.
Emery, T. J., Noriega, R., Williams, A. J., Larcombe, J., Nicol, S., Williams, P., … Peatman, T. (2018). The use of electronic monitoring within tuna longline fisheries: implications for international data collection, analysis and reporting. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 28(4), 887–907. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11160-018-9533-2