The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) in partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has started implementing E-Monitoring on Long Line Vessels with two vessels already fitted with E-Monitoring Units over the weekend.
The units are made up of cameras and recording hard drives which will be used to monitor all activities on the fishing deck.
Global Fisheries Limited and Solong Seafoods Ltd – two locally based company vessels were the first to be fitted with e-monitoring devices.
Director of Fisheries, Mr Edward Honiwala said TNC provided the first eight units and the last vessel is expected to be fitted with e-monitoring units by the end of October 2017.
He said introduction of e-monitoring device on longline fishing vessels is important because it will increase the rate of monitoring on Longline Vessels.
Currently the Ministry of Fisheries is doing five percent (5%) observer coverage using human observers on Longline vessels but is required to increase coverage so the introduction of the e-monitoring will solve that issue considering the challenging living conditions faced by observers on longline fishing vessels.
E-monitoring would be seen as a solution to collect both biological and compliance data. These biological and compliance data is vital for proper management of this very important fishery. The Western Central Pacific Tuna Commission recommendation is for member countries to implement electronic solutions for improved data management.
Mr. Honiwala stressed that this system will assist the Ministry of Fisheries with monitoring and compliance as vessel operators will always be mindful of their actions and activities, as they know well that they are monitored through these system.
“This system can also be used for Fish Identification and also to collect other biological data, for example the units can be calibrated to estimate length of fish and so on, he added.
With the support of the New Zealand funded MSSIF Programme to house the related onshore infrastructure, MFMR fisheries technicians will analyse the stored data, collected during the fishing trips, when the vessel is in port for transhipment.
They will remove the hardware and analyse it for likely infringements if there is any during the fishing trip.
The Fisheries Director said this process is important to ensure all locally registered fishing boats comply with the conditions of their license and also measures governing Illegal Unreported and Unregulated fishing inside the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
TNC also supported similar projects in Palau, Republic Of Marshall Islands and Tuvalu.
Two Satlink technicians (from Fiji and Spain) were engaged to install units which include cameras and monitor on the two vessels.
The cameras are positioned in three locations (one at the back and two in the mid-section) of the vessels to monitor all activities on board.
Francis Pituvaka, Communications Officer – MFMR