It’s no secret that when it comes to using electronic monitoring (EM) systems for fisheries management purposes, Australia is a world leader in the field, with several Commonwealth fisheries requiring fishing vessels to use EM since 2015.

EM is a system of video cameras and sensors capable of monitoring and recording fishing activities, which are reviewed by AFMA. EM systems are a valid data collection method, and can support a range of national objectives.

Electronic monitoring.
Credit: AFMA.

AFMA uses the data to refine regulations, to audit reporting in logbooks, to complement observer programs and to provide verified data on retained and discarded fish as well as handling practices.

Australia also plays a key role in an international forum on EM, working with our regional partners to develop standards which facilitate the uptake and management of EM.AFMA’s Senior Manager of International Compliance, Kerry Smith, is the Chair of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) Electronic Reporting and Electronic Monitoring Working Group.

The WCPFC was established by the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPF Convention) and includes 26 members.

The working group is tasked with making recommendations to the Commission and its subsidiary bodies which meet annually.

In August 2018, the working group held its third annual meeting in Busan, Republic of Korea, where participants continued discussions on the potential of EM systems in collecting timely, reliable and accurate data in support of the Commission objective.

The working group considered a regional framework for an EM program based on standards including program management, technical, logistical and data analysis requirements.

In Australia, EM systems have been compulsory since 2015 for commercial fishing boats operating in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery, the Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery and the Gillnet, Hook and Trap fishery. EM is now being trialled on trawlers in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery and the Small Pelagic Fishery.

More information on EM can be found at