Design and implementation of electronic monitoring in the British Columbia groundfish hook and line fishery: a retrospective view of the ingredients of success
Catches in the groundfish hook and line fishery in British Columbia on Canada's west coast have been monitored since 2006 with an interrelated suite of technical components. These include, but are not limited to, full (100%) independent dockside monitoring, full video capture of fishing events and vessel monitoring at sea, 10% partial review of the video imagery from each trip, and full coverage of fisher logbooks. The monitoring also relies on complete retention of the over 30 species of rockfish (Sebastes spp.). Each component, in spite of its weaknesses as a stand-alone monitoring tool, makes an essential contribution without which the overall programme would fail. The programme has surpassed expectations in providing accurate, defensible, and timely estimates of total catch for all quota and many non-quota species. This document summarizes contextual and process ingredients, which contributed to implementation, the key being a “carrot and stick” approach wherein industry support was facilitated by the “carrot” of coincident full introduction of individual vessel quotas (ITQs). The “stick” was that Government support was conditional on improving catch monitoring with the proviso that ITQs would not be considered and the fishery would be closed until the monitoring was improved. Also important was the fact that previous failures to solve management and catch monitoring in this fishery with overly simple solutions had created an understanding by all participants that an effective and lasting solution would be complex and require a major commitment of time and funds.