In UK waters, commercial fisheries are currently responsible for causing the greatest pressures on the marine environment, significantly contributing to why we still have not achieved Good Environmental Status (GES). It remains logistically and financially difficult to effectively monitor fishing activity and measure catches to robustly understand the full impacts of fishing on the environment and thereafter accordingly manage the most deleterious impacts . The capability of Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) to measure and mitigate some of these impacts has been accepted for some time but its implementation has so far been limited to a few isolated projects.
The aim of the report was to consider implementation options for the most efficient and effective suite of REM technologies for English inshore fisheries. A pragmatic approach to the development of any such programme would be to prioritise those fisheries that pose the highest risk to the marine environment, and the achievement of GES. The framework adopts a risk-based approach, firstly assessing the risks posed by different fishing métiers (gear types) to the wider marine environment (through GES descriptors), and secondly evaluating how various REM configurations can gather data to inform how these risks could be optimally mitigated. The framework also includes an evaluation of the costs and benefits provided by different levels of monitoring, thereby allowing policy-makers and regulators to consider different approaches and understand the relative cost implications.
Natural England believe the implementation of an REM programme would be a significant advancement in the UK’s efforts to not only achieve GES but work towards the UK goal of World Class Fisheries.