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In 2018, The Nature Conservancy and CEA Consulting released the report, “Catalyzing the Growth of Electronic Monitoring in Fisheries.” This progress update report revisits the original recommendations, assesses the progress and new innovations that have been made, identifies key remaining barriers, and updates the investment blueprint based on what has changed or been learned over the last year and a half.

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Crew on a Rhode Island flatfish boat measure fluke in view of the electronic monitoring cameras. Ayla Fox / The Nature Conservancy

Electronic monitoring (EM) is an integrated system of on-board cameras and sensors that record fishing activity and extract data. It has proven to be an effective and scalable tool to deliver the granular on-the-water data necessary for effective fisheries management.

Crew on a Rhode Island flatfish boat measure fluke in view of the electronic monitoring cameras. Video reviewers will convert lengths to weight to be used for science and management. Photo: Ayla Fox / The Nature Conservancy

EM has numerous benefits.

  • Improves data integrity and compliance
  • Enables incentive-based management
  • Builds shared trust in fisheries-dependent data
  • Can unlock value in the seafood market
  • Provides operational benefits
  • Can be lower cost and more scalable than human observers

EM can help protect and maintain the productivity of fisheries.

Republic of the Marshall Islands. Photo: Kydd Pollock / The Nature Conservancy

EM has grown slowly and now covers approximately 1,500 vessels worldwide—just a fraction of the world's estimated 500,000 large motorized fishing vessels. Interest in EM is building and growth of the technology appears to be at an inflection point.

Read Recent EM Progress here.

EM is being trialed and implemented all around the world.

Read Global EM Developments here.

EM pilots and programs are expanding into new regions. (Adapted from Aloysius T. M. van Helmond et al., “Electronic Monitoring in Fisheries: Lessons from Global Experiences and Future Opportunities,” Fish and Fisheries 21, no. 1 (2020): 162–89,

Several barriers still limit the growth of EM.

  • Limited government demand
  • Weak consumer demand for sustainable seafood
  • Immature EM market
  • Fishing industry opposition

Read Updated Recommendations here.

Photo: Ayla Fox / The Nature Conservancy

Targeted investment—on the water, in technology, in policy, and in markets—is needed to overcome these barriers.

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