By: L.N. Reklai
(Koror, Palau) Electronic Monitoring Devices (EMDs) were recently installed on fishing boats licensed to fish within Palau’s EEZs. These special cameras will monitor the boat catch and ensure compliance with not only Palau’s fishing regulations but also the WCPFC’s regulations, according to Asterio Takasi, Tuna Project Manager under the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism (MNRET).
“Palau is the first to deploy these monitoring devices on long line fishing boats. We now have 3 installed on the 3 locally based fishing companies and 2 on Japanese fishing boats licensed to fish in Palau,” reported Mr. Takasi.
According to Takasi, these devices helps Palau address the issue of lack of available observers required on the fishing boats. Currently, Palau has only one full time observer and one part time.
“Under the WCPFC’s regulations, we should have 5% observer coverage on the fishing boats licensed to fish in our waters. Right now, we are barely covering 1%. With these electronic monitoring devices, we are able to cover more without having to have a person on board,” added Mr. Asterio Takasi.
The fishing boats benefit from these electronic devices as well said Takasi. For each observer on the boat, the fishing company has to pay $75 dollars a day, food and keep of that person and is also responsible for that person’s well-being and health.
The devices cut that cost for the boat and also, a tv screen is placed on the pilot’s wheelhouse which shows all camera coverage on the boat. The specialized cameras are placed in various angles. This gives the captain opportunity to see his boat at various times without leaving his wheelhouse.
“These equipments do not replace the observers but supplement them. In addition to monitoring catch, these equipments collect lot of other data from the boats, data needed for better decision-making.”
“We have office observers. We have an office with the equipment and two local observers trained to review the data received from these equipment, analyze and collect important information from them. These are specialized equipment that had to be read by trained personnel but can’t be tampered with while on board,” reported Takasi.
The equipments are satellite based and will give off alarm if attempt to tamper with them occur. “We’ve had only one incident since we installed them and immediately the alarm was sent to the service base which immediately informed us. We have spoken to fishing company and since then, no incident has occurred”.
“The advantage of having the equipment is that, first, it implements PNMS regulations which require vessel monitoring and approve use of electronic monitoring devices. Second, it helps us address the lack of needed observers. Third, it serves as a deterrent to potential violators. Fourth, it collects more data than if we just have one observer on board. Last but not least, it also benefits the fishing boats. It saves them the cost of having to host an observer as well as having more eyes on his boat than he normally has on a given time,” stated Mr. Takasi in an interview.
The electronic monitoring devices are part of a project funded by The Nature Conservancy in support of Palau’s fisheries management program. [/restrict]