In 2013 the Council continued to consider the use of electronic monitoring for the trawl catch share program.
The Council decided the program would focus on monitoring the compliance required for individual accountability of catch and discard, as opposed to biological data collection or other scientific monitoring (such protected species interactions).
In April, the Council adopted regulatory objectives, reviewed a 2012 electronic monitoring field study report by Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, and approved recommendations for the 2013 field study. The studies focused on comparison of video and human observer data on retained and discarded catch.
In May, NMFS released its policy for Electronic Technologies and Fishery Dependent Data Collection.
In June, the Council established the Groundfish Electronic Monitoring Policy Advisory Committee (GEMPAC) and the Groundfish Electronic Monitoring Technical Advisory Committee (GEMTAC) to focus on developing alternatives and options for electronic monitoring. The Council established a timeline for considering electronic monitoring, reviewed a white paper on performance standards for an electronic monitoring program, and received a final 2012 field study report from PSMFC.
In August, both of the committees met to further the Council scoping process. The GEMPAC developed a draft set of electronic monitoring program alternatives for the Council’s consideration in September 2013. At the same meeting, the Council asked the GEMPAC to continue developing alternatives. Specifically, the Council asked the GEM Committees to discuss a “phased-in” approach for electronic monitoring, starting with midwater trawl and fixed-gear fisheries, with a separate phase for bottom trawl fisheries. The Council also asked the committees to discuss the use of data logger systems, to discuss alternatives for an electronic monitoring program that includes species that may be discarded under maximize retention fisheries, and to explore ways to minimize discards for safety reasons.
The committees met again in October. The GEMPAC refined the draft alternatives and developed a report with recommendations for Council consideration in November 2013. At that meeting, the Council received a draft set of alternatives for an electronic monitoring program, revised them as recommended by the Enforcement Consultants, and moved forward with further analysis.
The Council also scheduled consideration of special, out-of-cycle exempted fishing permit (EFP) proposals for electronic monitoring, with maximized retention requirements. The Council announced that it would accept EFP applications at the April 2013 meeting. At the GEMPAC meeting in March, applicants received feedback for refinement of their EFP applications prior to submission to the Council.