Electronic monitoring trial

Trialling electronic monitoring in Victorian commercial fisheries

Electronic monitoring (also known as ‘e-monitoring’) is being trialled for the first time in Victoria’s Giant Crab Fishery.

Electronic monitoring systems contribute to ensuring the sustainability of marine resources and can help make the VFA a more efficient and effective fisheries management agency.

This 2-year trial will build on the recent implementation of vessel monitoring systems  in Victoria’s key commercial fisheries.

What is Electronic Monitoring?

Electronic Monitoring (EM) is a system of video cameras and sensors capable of monitoring and recording fishing activities. This data is stored on hard drives and can be reviewed to independently validate fisheries logbook information including;

  • total catch and discards of commercial species and bycatch
  • total fishery interactions with protected species
  • catch per unit effort for the fishery.

EM will ensure the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) obtain accurate records of catch and effort in the fishery.

What are the benefits of Electronic Monitoring?

Successful fishery management relies on the collection of data that accurately reflects fishing activities. Data on catch, effort and bycatch is used in scientific stock assessments to make sure that fishing activity is sustainable.

With EM, the VFA and the public can be confident that fishing activities are independently monitored and that fisheries data is accurately reported. This in turn helps improve the overall quality of scientific assessments and decision-making.

Adopting these technologies reinforces community confidence that Victoria’s commercial fishing industry continues to adopt world’s best practice while operating at the highest possible standards.

Other benefits include:

  • Increased knowledge of commercial fishing operations within the Zeehan Australian Marine Park and reduce the compliance risk from commercial fisheries which operate in or transit through this area.
  • Enabling Victoria to make better management decisions and improve compliance with measures designed to protect both commercial and protected species.
  • Reduced reliance on precautionary management (ie. conservative TACCs) due to lack of data.
  • Improved transparency in fishing operations will lead to enhanced social licence and accreditation opportunity leading to increased market access potential.

When is the trial in the Giant Crab fishery?

From 16 November 2022, recently active vessels operating in the commercial giant crab fishery (i.e those licence holders that fit specified catch criteria) require an EM unit to be fitted for the first part of trial. A Fisheries Notice is now in place to support these arrangements.

The Notice has been designed so that it only applies to recently active Giant Crab Fishery (Western Zone) Access Licences that have landed a total of more than 1 tonne of giant crab in Victoria between 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2022 inclusive.

A regulatory guide has been developed to ensure these fishers understand their responsibilities (including protocols for circumstances where there may be issue with the equipment)

The VFA will continue to monitor the activity of licences that meet the current catch criteria during the trial, and we will take an adaptable approach to ensuring key objectives of trialling this technology can be met. The trial is expected to run until 30 June 2024.

What happens to the data and footage?

Video footage and other data are recorded on data drives. Fishers will be required to post the data drive to the contractor following a fishing trip and replace with a new drive. A pre-addressed, pre-paid envelope will be provided for this purpose to ensure this a simple process. The data is then analysed by the independent contractor and a report sent to the VFA.

How will the privacy of fishers' data be protected?

The VFA respects the privacy of commercial fisher’s data and treats this information as confidential. Individual’s information collected is used for compliance and fisheries management purposes and is shared only with external agencies under strict conditions and in accordance with the Fisheries Act 1995.

There are strong legal protections under the Fisheries Act 1995 to prevent unauthorised access to or divulging of this information.

If you would like further information on the trial, please contact Toby Jeavons, Giant Crab Fishery Manager at Toby.Jeavons@vfa.vic.gov.au