Marine resources – remote electronic monitoring: consultation analysis

Analysis of public consultation on remote electronic monitoring (REM) as part of ensuring the long term sustainability of marine resources.

7. Benefits of REM in the pelagic sector (Q6)

Q6: Do you agree with the scientific and compliance benefits of REM for the pelagic fleet as set out in this document? Are there other benefits which you can consider, including to industry, the environment, or local communities?

Benefits outlined in consultation paper

7.1. The consultation paper outlined several scientific and compliance benefits from having REM on pelagic vessels.

7.2. For science, the benefits outlined included:

  • Additional verification that data collected via scientific programmes is valid allowing for confirmation that what is being caught is the same as what is being landed
  • To have certainty over the current landings data, it is important to know that no slipping or discarding is taking place
  • Being able to access additional data gathered by pelagic vessels as they subsample their catch at regular intervals would significantly add to the data sets available to scientists which would improve the reliability and resilience of scientific stock assessments and advice

7.3. For compliance purposes, the benefits outlined were that REM provides a system to demonstrate compliance with relevant legislation which would aid confidence that what has been caught has been retained. For pelagic vessels this would mainly be the landing obligation but also legislation on high grading, slipping of catch and misreporting. In order to demonstrate compliance REM needs to be able to confirm how much the vessel has caught and how much the vessel has landed.

Response to closed question

7.4. Respondents were asked whether they agreed with these scientific and compliance benefits and whether they could think of any other benefits for industry, the environment, or local communities.

7.5. In total, 34 respondents answered the closed element of the question with 74% saying that they did agree with the scientific and compliance benefits set out in the consultation (75% of individuals and 73% of organisations) while 26% did not agree with them (25% of individuals and 27% of organisations). Fishing organisations were less likely to agree with the scientific and compliance benefits set out in the consultation paper than conservation organisations.

7.6. For the open element of the question, 38 respondents provided a written response.

Agreement with benefits and further benefits

7.7. Many responses noted the scientific benefits of REM for the pelagic fleet. The potential for increased timeliness, richness and availability of data is noted in many responses.

7.8. Some note that the potential for this data has to be met with transparency and seek clarification on how data will be accessed and whether it will be available in an anonymised way beyond Scottish Government and to the broader research community or individuals. The following quote illustrate some of these views:

"The difference between a 1-2 hour polling interval and the 10 seconds offered by REM is huge as is the richness of the data. To me it seems under stated in the document. The opportunities these data give to the scientific community are enormous." [Individual]

7.9. Some responses note that REM as a tool for data collection would allow for monitoring to ensure that stocks are being harvested sustainably and to minimise the potential negative impacts on the wider marine environment including sensitive species bycatch. However, it is noted that in order to meet this potential benefit that REM systems must be optimised to allow for collecting data to monitor sensitive species bycatch through positioning of cameras and that those reviewing the data have the right level of knowledge to capture the data needed for management purposes.

7.10. Relatedly, other responses illustrate the potential positive impacts of increased confidence in the supply chain as the evidence collected would allow fishers to be able to demonstrate that their fishing activities are sustainable which gives consumers greater confidence when selecting seafood to buy. The following quote sums up these views:

" We agree there will be significant scientific and compliance benefits to the use of REM by the pelagic fleet. It can also be used: for data collection to ensure stocks are being harvested sustainably; to identify the scale of issues, such as sensitive species bycatch and whether the mitigation measures put in place are addressing the issue; it should provide greater transparency around fishing operations, where and how fish are being caught and in so doing give confidence to consumers about the sustainability of the fish they are buying." [Organisation, Third Sector]

7.11. Respondents who agreed with the scientific and compliance benefits outlined tended to focus less on additional compliance benefits.

7.12. However, it was noted by a few respondents that for compliance to be effective that legislation needs to ensure that the information collected by REM is available to all enforcement authorities and that there are sufficient systems in place to ensure the large volumes of data are appropriately accessible and analysed.

7.13. A group of responses saw the compliance benefits as secondary to the scientific benefits in terms of REM as result of the fact that there is an opportunity to create a functional catching policy which would promote a culture of compliance.

Disagreement with benefits outlined

7.14. A number of reasons were given by respondents who did not agree with the scientific and compliance benefits outlined in the consultation paper.

7.15. Some responses stated that they felt that Scottish and many non-Scottish pelagic vessels fishing in Scottish waters already collected significant scientific data for use in ICES stock assessment. Therefore, some responses queried whether the additional scientific benefits set out for REM in the consultation document were overstated and queried whether concerns had been raised by ICES or other bodies in relation to the veracity and reliability of existing sampling programmes and data collection. Responses also included queries on what additional data Marine Scotland foresee being captured by REM. The following quotes illustrates this point of view:

"we are very unclear about the additional scientific benefits claimed for REM. It is suggested in the consultation document that REM systems can boost the reliability and resilience of existing data-gathering, yet to our knowledge no reservations have been expressed by ICES or any other competent body over the reliability or resilience of existing sampling programmes." [Organisation, Fishing organisation]

"the scientific benefits specified within the consultation document and accompanying BRIA are overemphasised and at best aspirational over the longer term. The Scottish pelagic sector already operates a comprehensive self-sampling scheme which we understand is capable of delivering the majority of the scientific data and benefits specified." [Organisation, Fishing organisation]

7.16. Some responses indicated that they felt that the benefits outlined could only be achieved if REM was applied to all vessels, while others felt that the requirement for the pelagic fleet was biased and not in the spirit of a level playing field.

7.17. Among those who disagreed with the benefits outlined some felt that the compliance element was more prominent than the scientific and some responses sought to understand what the trigger for inspection of REM data would be.



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