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As part of the Future Fisheries Alliance, we've come together with RSPB and WWF to create a colourful, cutting-edge report that outlines why effective monitoring on vessels using Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) with cameras is essential if we are to eliminate bycatch, as well as overfishing.
Fish are central to the health of our ocean and the livelihoods of fishing communities.
With only 35% of UK stocks fished within environmental limits, and bycatch recognised as a major threat to marine wildlife, we urgently need to ensure fishing fleets are properly managed and monitored.
These problems are often hidden in the depths of the ocean as a result of poor fishing activities and fish being illegally discarded at sea.
Together with RSPB and WWF, we have created a colourful, cutting-edge report that outlines why effective monitoring on vessels using REM with cameras is essential if we are to eliminate bycatch as well as overfishing.
It should be a mandatory requirement to have REM with onboard camera coverage on all vessels fishing in UK waters to help tackle the nature and climate emergency we are currently facing.
Incidental death in fishing gear is one of the top threats to marine wildlife across the globe.
In UK waters, thousands of rare and threatened marine animals continue to be killed unnecessarily as ‘bycatch’ in fishing gear every year, caught on fishing hooks, entangled in nets, or wrapped up in ropes.
We don’t currently know the true levels of bycatch. And we don’t know how much fish is coming out of the sea. But we do know that if fishing activity at sea is more effectively monitored, it will help fishers evidence a more sustainable approach to fishing.
This will facilitate UK stock recoveries, help monitor and minimise bycatch, and promote a thriving and sustainable industry for generations to come.
And there is a tangible technology available that will help answer these questions, once and for all.
Cameras at sea
Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) systems are a game changing technology that combine video and sensor technology to provide a full picture of fishing activity.
REM allows us to see where, what, and how fish and other marine wildlife are being removed from our ocean.
These smart cameras at sea enable fisheries to expand data collection of their fishing fleets to assess bycatch levels and mitigation methods, fish and catch levels, conservation science data and to discourage discards overboard.
Intelligent cameras at sea are an effective, value-for-money tool to assess fishing activities, collect data and assure sustainable best practice.
REM can bring a range of benefits for wildlife, fishers, scientists, retailers, and consumers alike.
Protects wildlife - Helps to monitor and reduce bycatch levels and reduce impacts on marine wildlife such as sharks, seabirds and cetaceans.
Improved scientific data - REM can capture widespread data to provide a full picture of fishing activity and help us better understand our seas.
Cost effective - Greater coverage, data and confidence for significantly less money than other monitoring methods.
Increased transparency - By allowing vessel owners or fishing companies to monitor catches and share information with supply chains.
Level playing field - A set of standards that everyone complies to so all fisheries have the same monitoring regime.
Improves sustainability - Efficient monitoring of the net hauling and fish sorting process will encourage fishers to fish more selectively and discard less so that stocks are fished within environmental limitations.
Confident consumers, responsible retailers - Provides fishers with verifiable evidence of what they are seeing, haul-by-haul, to evidence responsible practices at sea.
Safeguards Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) - GPS, sensors and video can monitor fishing gear and help protect key marine habitats, and help us understand the impacts of fishing on wildlife.
A collaborative, cooperative approach
Healthy relationships between managers, scientists, enforcement agencies and fishers will be key to safeguarding the future of our ocean and fisheries.
Instead of the traditional approach of top-down policy and enforcement, camera monitoring systems offer a new collaborative, cooperative approach with everyone sharing a common goal: a healthy, thriving ocean with sustainable fish stocks.
With ongoing developments in technology, we envisage a day where scientific data will be accessed by fisheries, managers, and fishers alike, in real-time, after each haul.
REM can empower fishers who are operating in accordance with best practice by evidencing sustainable practices through objective, verifiable data.
Confident consumers, responsible retailer
Consumers are increasingly environmentally aware and willing to support sustainable practices. REM offers a new way to build trust, ensure sustainability, and potentially improve market access for fishers.
We envisage a world where consumers can confidently buy seafood over the counter, knowing that their product doesn’t come with a side of unwanted wildlife bycatch or discarded fish before arriving on their plate.
Intelligent cameras at sea are a win-win-win for wildlife, fishers, and the consumer.
REM provides an effective, value-for-money tool to assess fishing activities, collect data and assure sustainable best practice. This will help to protect marine ecosystems and prevent unsustainable fishing, whilst increasing long term yields and profits for fishing communities.
It should be a mandatory requirement to have REM with onboard camera coverage on all vessels fishing in UK waters to support sustainable fishing and safeguard our ocean.
REM offers the UK a chance to improve fisheries management and lead the way in the adoption of progressive technology that delivers sustainability, accountability, and confidence in the supply chain.
REM is a gamechanger and could position the UK as a world leader in sustainable fisheries management and help to ensure marine biodiversity is protected for generations to come.
- CEFAS Assessing the sustainability of catch limits negotiated 2022
- Scottish Government estimates 7,000 tonnes of undersized haddock discarded in 2021 (thefishingdaily.com)
- An evaluation of cetacean bycatch in UK fisheries: problems and solutions (2021)
- defra - Research and Development for the UK Seabird Plan of Action (PoA) - ME6024
- Assessing bycatch risk from gillnet fisheries for three species of diving seabird in the UK (2022)
- Scottish public opinion poll on MPAs (2022)
- The SSC calls for clarity and ambition for the future of UK fisheries management (2022)
- van Helmond et al (2019) Electronic monitoring in fisheries’ in Fish and Fisheries
- Minister Pow keynote speech - Coastal Futures 2022 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Ulrich et al. 2015 Discarding of cod in the Danish Fully Documented Fisheries trials
- Remote Electronic Monitoring - Protecting Our Ocean Through Enhanced Fisheries Monitoring (2020)
- WWF: Remote Electronic Monitoring in UK Fisheries Management (2017)