NOAA Fisheries provides a comprehensive overview of electronic monitoring in the pollock fishery.
Let’s Talk Trawling
Commercial fishing takes many shapes, but, as our name suggests, MTC is primarily focused on trawling. Our member vessels pull conical nets either in the middle of the water column (midwater) or closer to the bottom – depending upon the species targeted. Over the years, a variety of safeguards have been put in place to reduce bycatch and protect the ocean floor. MTC members have voluntarily spent time and money developing and testing out new gear, excluder devices, and fishing strategies in order to improve efficiency and reduce interactions with unwanted species.
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To be a successful trawler, a vessel needs to have sufficient power to tow the net, a mechanism to hold the mouth of the net open, and warp wires to connect the net and gear to the towing mechanism.
So how does a trawl net work? As shown in the diagram, trawl nets are funnel shaped nets with extended wings at the opening. Nets are commonly made from two combined panels, a top and bottom, but can also incorporate side panels. The netting narrows, like a funnel, towards the back of the net where the fish are forced into a bag or collection area known as the cod-end. To maintain the horizontal shape, heavy boards/doors known as otter boards may be used. To maintain the vertical shape of the net mouth opening, floats may be used along the top of the netting, called the headrope, and weights along the bottom.
Trawl nets are responsible for the greatest portion of the nation’s fish and shrimp catches. There are hundreds of trawl styles and sizes used around the world to target schooling species or groups of species.
Electronic Monitoring (EM) is one method of ensuring that all fish harvested and/or discarded at-sea are accounted for. MTC vessels are committed to accountability and they care about healthy fisheries. They pioneered EM on the West Coast and are now participating in growing the program in the North Pacific.
A 2021 survey of commercial fishermen around the U.S. reveals the top priorities when it comes to technology in the areas of sustainability, safety, productivity, and data.
Fast tracking offshore wind development has generated numerous concerns among stakeholders, including the small businesses that make up our commercial fishing fleet.
For several years there has been an international campaign to protect 30% of the earth’s oceans and 30% of the land by 2030 to combat the climate crisis.
Some fisheries that MTC members participate in require monitoring, to ensure that all fish harvested and discarded at-sea are accounted for.