Monitoring systems

Ensuring that the tools to collect the information needed by fisheries managers and scientists are comprehensive and robust

Fisheries monitoring data are used to characterise a fishery and determine the trends in marine populations or stocks of fish though time. The types of data collected, the monitoring tools used, and the application of the data collected in fisheries management have evolved to reflect the complexity of stock assessment and fisheries management needs. In addition to catch and effort, fisheries monitoring collects information on the demography and biology of fish populations and more broadly on the ecosystems for science. Fisheries managers use population trends through time as an index of the success in fisheries management measures, or even to directly assess compliance of participants with the control measures.

Fishery-dependent data are collected through direct monitoring of commercial fishing operations.  The baseline is the measurement of fishing effort and the catch or resource yields through time. Data may be submitted by fishers, such as with logbooks and transfer receipts. Where reporting may impact on the fishers, monitoring can be done independently, such as using fisheries observers, electronic monitoring (EM), vessel monitoring systems (VMS), and unloading monitoring and/or port sampling. Each method has its strengths and weaknesses with respect to the data collected, its efficiency, cost, and accuracy.

Individual monitoring tools cannot fill all the evolving information needs of fisheries science and management. Monitoring systems utilise a suite of data collection tools to achieve the continuous need for information to describe a fishery and its changing operating dynamics.

Integrating data collection tools into a monitoring system allows the strengths of each tool to be used as a primary source for a specific data type, but also a secondary role in validating other tool’s data (through quality control feedback mechanisms). Being able to cross reference data types means a fisheries monitoring system is more robust than the sum of its individual tools.