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Remote Electronic Monitoring and UK Fisheries

This report provides clear evidence that Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) with closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) should be a key component of a well-monitored fishery and supports the case for REM being made a condition for fishing in UK waters.

As the UK develops new fisheries policies that will come into force after it leaves the European Union, it is vital to the economic wellbeing of fishing communities and the long-term protection of our fish stocks and the marine environment that the UK and devolved governments adopt the most effective, value-for-money tools for monitoring fishing activities, collecting data and assuring best practice.

Download the report (PDF)

This new report for 2017 follows WWF’s 2015 investigation into monitoring and control practices, which was commissioned in response to growing concerns over the failure of fisheries managers to introduce effective monitoring of, and compliance with, new fisheries legislation. It also looked at the use of REM and compared coverage and costings of both this and more traditional monitoring processes. The 2015 study revealed that REM with cameras offers by far the most cost-effective option for monitoring at sea and can offer 100% coverage levels at a fraction of the cost of more traditional methods, which provide less than 1% coverage.

Our 2017 findings not only reinforce these conclusions, but also reveal that the cost of installing cameras on the UK fishing fleet has continued to fall, making the case all the more compelling.

The report also explores the human cost of the current system of collecting scientific data using on-board observers and how this may be affected by new legislation. We hear from observers about the threats and intimidation they can face from vessel owners and crews, and the unsafe working conditions they are sometimes exposed to. While these incidents are thankfully rare and it appears that most of the fishing industry understands the need for data collection, they add weight to the argument that our current systems are not fit for purpose.

This evidence supports our call for mandatory REM to be included in the UK's new fisheries legislation when it leaves the EU. Read more about what should be included in the UK's new fisheries policy

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