Strategic Framework for Fishery Monitoring and Catch Reporting in the Pacific Fisheries

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Strategy 2: Monitoring and reporting programs

DFO will work with harvesters and others to identify and implement a cost-effective package of monitoring and reporting measures to meet the specified information requirements.

The tools and methods commonly used for fishery monitoring and catch reporting are listed in Table 3.  There are two broad categories of activity that can be combined in various ways to provide the necessary level and attributes of monitoring and catch information:

  • Fisher dependent techniques rely on individual harvesters or groups of harvesters to monitor and report on their own catch.  In reality, no one is better positioned to monitor the fishery and associated catches than the participants themselves.  Given positive engagement, adequate training and the appropriate reporting technologies, this type of information gathering can be very cost-effective when accurate.
    On the other hand, a fisher dependent approach has limitations. For example, it can be hindered by non-compliance, a lack of key information (e.g., releases, bycatch) and unreliable data communication.  Independent verification can remove or reduce many of these problems.
  • Fisher independent monitoring and reporting is typically carried out by regulatory authorities (i.e., DFO fishery officers, managers, scientists and other staff) and designated third party observers.  This type of approach is preferred where conservation risks are high, catch quotas or defined shares must be confirmed, or there are other circumstances that demand greater objectivity and certainty of information.
    Independent monitoring techniques vary considerably in the kinds of data they can collect.  As with any sampling program, they also have their own inherent biases.  In general, these tools and methods are often expensive and it can be problematic extrapolating the data to the entire fishery.
Table 3: Monitoring and Reporting Tools and Methods
Data Gathering Tool Data Delivery Method
Fisher Dependent Fisher Independent
Commercial sales slips Aerial gear counts (over-flights) Mail
Logbooks (paper/electronic) On-water gear counts (charter patrols) Internet/intranet/e-mail
Fisher hail-ins/hail-outs On-board observers Telephone/radio
Harvester/creel surveys Camera systems (video monitoring) In-person interviews
Fisher collected biological Dockside monitoring   Real-time vessel monitoring
  Samples Post-season buyer/supplier surveys  

For each fishery, Resource Managers and harvesters will come together to decide on the appropriate combination of measures for meeting the information requirements from Strategy 1.  They will begin by reviewing the current monitoring and reporting program to determine its adequacy and identify any required improvements.  Where changes are necessary, the participants will review the options and develop a mutually agreeable monitoring and reporting program. 

The costs of the identified program must then be estimated.  If the program is affordable, it can be implemented; if not, the level of information requirements may be relaxed in exchange for a more conservative harvest opportunity or management regime (e.g., a pooled fishery).  In this way, the process can be iterative, whereby discussions on monitoring measures and costs lead back to a re-examination of the options to manage fishery risks and standards. 

In order to gain efficiencies, the potential for coordinated monitoring and reporting measures across fisheries must be explored.  The joint collection of biological data and the use of dockside monitoring programs for multiple fisheries are examples of possible efficiencies.  Fisheries should also share information on best management practices and take advantage of cost-effective technological advances as much as possible (see Strategy 6).

Strategy 3: Data management

DFO will complete the development of its major information management framework, PacFish, to facilitate access to Pacific fisheries data for Resource Managers and other users. Ongoing support and maintenance requirements are to be identified and incorporated into operational budgets.

The Pacific Region has a multi-year project under way to develop an information management framework for Pacific fisheries. PacFish aims to provide the human resources, data and technology for enabling the effective management and use of fisheries data.  When completed, the project will represent a fundamental change to the management of fisheries information in the Pacific Region and ensure that:

  • Users of fisheries information have easy and secure access to timely, complete and consistent data of defined quality;  
  • The data collected serve both local and broad (integrated) needs;
  • Data and technology management has clear accountabilities and is cost-efficient and service-oriented; and 
  • A comprehensive framework is in place to guide the future evolution of Pacific fisheries data and associated systems.

Under the framework, information from monitoring and reporting programs will be subject to common data standards and formats and will be stored and managed in designated enterprise repositories.  Within DFO, a regional data group will be responsible for determining standards, guidelines, accountabilities and processes for data transfer and management.  This central unit will coordinate the work of various sub-groups organized by species grouping and/or harvesting sector.   Cross-fishery data will be consolidated in a regionally integrated reporting database to facilitate user access.  Other fishery or species-specific data will be available to users through a variety of Fishery Data Systems.