The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, SwAM, has completed its assessment on how a ban on the discarding of unwanted fish can be monitored. The methods investigated include inspectors, CCTV surveillance, and monitoring via air and water.
“We have looked at the pros and cons with these different methods. A fundamental point is to obtain as precise of an idea as possible of how much fish is caught, both the amount that is landed in port and that which is tossed back overboard,” says Jenny Nord, analyst for fisheries regulation at SwAM.
The Skagerrak—the sea area bordering the northern half of Sweden’s west coast, the southeast coast of Norway and the peninsula of Denmark—may become the first of the EU’s marine areas to receive fisheries management with a ban on the discard of fish. In July 2012, the EU and Norway agreed to implement a discard ban in the Skagerrak which prompted the Swedish government commission SwAM to investigate the possibility of monitoring such a ban.
As a basis, SwAM’s analysts have used the EU Commission’s proposed regulation on technical and monitoring measures in the Skagerrak. This proposal covers 35 species of fish, certain gear regulations, and mandatory CCTV camera surveillance on vessels over 12 meters starting July 1, 2016. For vessels over 15 meters, the proposal suggests an earlier start date of January 1, 2014. The Commission’s proposal has not yet been adopted.
“We have also looked at the experiences of other countries with a complete documentation of fish that are caught,” says Nord.
In Denmark and Scotland, several pilot projects have documented cod caught in the North Sea. In Canada, camera surveillance is already used on fishing vessels for roughly 60 fish species. Efforts have also been made in Australia.
“We’ve also been in close contact with a number of commercial fishing associations as well as the Swedish Coast Guard, the Swedish Board of Agriculture, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and the Swedish Data Inspection Board.”
Certain requirements for reporting the amount of fish both caught and cast back into the sea are already in place today for Swedish fisheries.
“We know that unreported discards take place; this is evident by comparing the data in logbooks to the estimates that scientists acquire through sampling,” explains Nord.
The fish thrown back overboard usually don’t survive and won’t benefit society in the form of income or consumption.
SwAM has looked at the pros and cons of nine alternatives for control and documentation: inspectors, CCTV surveillance, monitoring via GPS and sensors, naval and air patrol, reference fleet, landing control, satellite tracking with VMS (vessel monitoring system), and the fisheries’ self-reporting (including logbooks, landing declarations, and sales notes).
“Our assessments conclude that there are two options that can meet the goal of fully-documented fishing – inspectors and video surveillance. The first option is very costly and difficult to implement in practice, while the second option can be perceived as intrusive,” explains Nord.
SwAM’s assessment is based upon a CCTV surveillance that is limited to the necessary minimum. The idea is for cameras to be placed where fish are taken out of the water, where they are cleaned and sorted, and where unwanted fish is thrown back. No sound is to be recorded, and footage would be confidentially protected by Sweden’s Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act.
“Within the fishing industry, there is a strong resistance to CCTV cameras on ships, mainly because it is perceived as an invasion of privacy," says Nord.
SwAM has reviewed whether or not CCTV surveillance is compliant with Sweden’s Personal Data Act and Public Camera Surveillance Act. Today, the surveillance of fishing vessels falls under the Personal Data Act, but from July 1, a new law will come into force. CCTV monitoring aboard vessels in Swedish territorial waters will fall under this new law when conducted; all other instances will covered by the Personal Data Act.
“Under our evaluations, CCTV monitoring in the intended conditions are consistent with Swedish law. If CCTV is selected as a control method, surveillance should be carried out to supervise the discard ban, and all recorded footage should only be used for this purpose,” says Åsa Toll, legal advisor at SwAM.
“The discard ban is part of the effort to create sustainable fisheries within the EU, something that concerns the use of a resource that belongs to us all. The general interest of effectively overseeing the discard ban may be considered as outweighing the intrusion of privacy that surveillance implies.”
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