1. Why monitor fisheries and what to monitor?

This session will explore the underlying reasons and requirements for monitoring fisheries.

It will examine the historical, legal and stewardship-related issues that have led society, governments, NGOs, eco-labels, etc. to require fisheries to be monitored. The session It will examine the many (and increasing) types of information needed from monitoring programs - for scientific, compliance and management purposes, to monitor bycatches of general discards and charismatic species, to monitor human rights abuses, pollution, seafood traceability, eco-certification, etc.

We especially invite abstracts about commercial, recreational, artisanal and traditional fisheries.

2. Industry engagement with monitoring

While fisheries monitoring programs can lead to tensions between regulators and industry, there are a number of examples where industry has become actively engaged in monitoring, leading to results that are better than those obtained when either group operates in isolation.

This session will explore these collaborations to identify their essential elements, benefits and weaknesses.

Contributions from industry participants are preferred.

3. Monitoring artisanal fisheries

Artisanal fisheries can be subsistence or commercial fisheries, which provide an essential supply of fish for local consumption and export. They occur throughout the entire world, and depending on different definitions or criteria may range from one-man canoes in less developed countries to greater than 20-m and technified vessels in more developed countries.

These types of fisheries typically involve a large number of boats, employ a wide diversity of fishing systems and gears, and operate over extensive geographical areas. In spite of their importance, these conditions make difficult to monitor artisanal fisheries either for scientific or enforcement purposes, restrictions that negatively affect its management.

This session will focus on exploring how to overcome these monitoring challenges, providing an opportunity to discuss successful experiences and different approaches used worldwide.

Methodological aspects, innovative solutions, the use of alternative sources of information, along with human, social and economic aspects that need to be considered when working in these fisheries will be also discussed.

4. Monitoring recreational fisheries

Recreational fisheries are often viewed as self sustaining and different from commercial fisheries as they are not as dependent on the social and economic forces of the commercial market. In many areas of the world recreational fisheries also provide significant economic benefits through charter operations, and are an important source of protein in less developed countries.

As such there is international recognition for greater inclusion of recreational fisheries catch data in species, fisheries and ecosystem assessments. However monitoring of recreational fisheries is difficult due to the small nature of vessels, and highly dispersed nature of fishing effort.

This session invites abstracts on how monitoring of recreational fisheries has been undertaken, and use of recreational fishing data by fisheries management regimes.

5. New approaches to analysing monitoring data and use of bycatch data

As knowledge and technology increases, advances in new tools and strategies for analyzing fishery observer data and EM have been introduced to achieve sustainable fishery management. Moreover, other dynamics including, but not limited to, environmental, biological and socio-economic data have recently been integrated into observer and EM assessments.

These advances have reduced bias and uncertainty and led to sustainable gains in bycatch (inclusive of protected species) reduction technology, more robust single and multi-species stock assessments, and holistic ecosystem and probabilistic modeling approaches.

In this session, we will explore these new and innovative analytical approaches on how fishery observer data and EM are used in fishery management decisions.

6. Considerations for design and application of observer and monitoring programmes

Observers or monitoring may not be on every fishing trip, and instead may only be on a subset of the fleet.

For the most accurate results, the monitored vessels should be representative of comparable fleet segments, but this is not always the case – especially in fisheries where the act of discarding is illegal, or the cost of fishing is higher on monitored trips.

This session will focus on defining, categorizing, detecting, and measuring the significance of potential monitoring bias in at-sea monitoring programs and assess whether potential biases can be reduced or eliminated.

7. Harmonizing and standardising observer programmes

Many fish- and shellfish stocks are exploited and shared by fishing fleets from more than one country or more than one state. This lead to a situation where more than one fisheries research institute or fisheries monitoring service provider are involved in fishery dependent monitoring of these stocks.

To ensure fisheries data that are used for stock assessment and fisheries management purposes are comparable and can be merged it requires harmonization and standardizing of monitoring programmes for minimizing bias in data.In many parts of the world lessons have been learned and experiences gained as significant effort has been put into harmonization and standardization monitoring programmes.

This session will explore the challenges and best practice when developing harmonized and standardized monitoring programmes to be conducted by all fishery monitoring players when monitoring the same shared stocks.

8. Observer training, safety and mental health

Observers face many challenges and risks while deployed on a huge variety of vessels worldwide. They must deal with infectious disease, cultural differences, stress, fatigue, isolation, unsafe vessels and sometimes even violence.

Programs have the task of helping observers to cope with these factors through support, training, technology and equipment.

This session will explore some of the issues faced by observers and how protocols, training, and technology can help reduce the risks associated with observing.

9. Technology used by observer programs, at-sea and shore-side

Increasingly, observers rely on technological tools to improve data collection quality, efficiency, personal safety and other workplace issues. There are lessons to be learned from observer programs about different technology choices, in particular experiences with their integration and the benefits achieved.

The focus of this session is on the operational impacts of technology, rather than specific features of the technology itself.  For example, what are the considerations and results of transitioning to a paperless program, using electronic reference manuals, establishing satellite communication services, etc.

We will hear from program’s on enhancements they have made through the application of new technology.

10. Operationalizing technology-based monitoring: Learning from programmes around the world

EM technology has been around for over a decade and many agencies responsible for fishery monitoring are eager to learn from the experiences of those who have fully operational EM programs.

Issues such as program objectives, equipment choices, deployment and maintenance of gear, video/photographic examination, data accuracies and inaccuracies, funding models, etc. will be examined in an attempt to identify “best-practices” in establishing EM programs.

11. The future of monitoring programmes outside fisheries

This conference has shown us that, worldwide, there are already a number of different types of monitoring programs, designed and structured in a variety of ways. As demand increases for information and data from monitoring programs, so does the uptake of new methodologies and technology to provide electronic reporting, geospatial information and electronic monitoring.

This session will identify changes that have already occurred in some programs, explore some of the types of monitoring programs that will potentially exist in the future and provide insights for new or emerging programs and the challenges that they face.

12. Briefing and Debriefing Observers

This session will explore the process of briefing and debriefing observers, a significant component in the multi-step fisheries management process. Trainers and briefers prepare observers for the challenge they face at sea; program staff support observers while they are in the field; and debriefers conduct data quality control measures with all of these interactions ensuring the best available science and compliance information support sustainable fisheries.

Training, briefing, and debriefing staff are often the touchstones for observers -- they are the mentors, evaluators, and offer a safe, understanding ear. The interaction between observers and briefing/debriefing staff is vital and yet the time we have to interact with each observer is often incredibly short.

We welcome abstracts that highlight best practices and tools to leverage these brief, yet valuable interactions with observers.