Developing Technological Solutions to Sustainability Challenges with Electronic Monitoring of Tuna Longliners

For Immediate Release on 28 March, 2014

HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS – 28 March 2014  – Two CT4 class longliners departed the port of Noro the Western Province of the Solomon Islands earlier this month with the latest video technology onboard to improve data collection in the Western and Central Pacific tuna longline fisheries for albacore, yellowfin, and bigeye. 

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) calls for five percent observer coverage onboard longliners operating in the region.  However, challenges such as limited space onboard smaller vessels, logistics, and costs have limited human observer coverage to around two percent.  Third-party data is therefore lacking on longline target catch, non-target catch, and overall operations.  This data is necessary to improve our scientific understanding of these fisheries, strengthen management tools, and promote better enforcement of existing national and regional conservation measures.  Use of modern technology to supplement the role of human observers offers real opportunities to overcome these challenges in tuna longline fisheries, making this an important and pioneering effort.

The Yi Man #3 pulling into Port in Noro.

The Yi Man #3 pulling into Port in Noro.  Photo:  Malo Hosken

This highly collaborative project was developed and launched by Tri Marine, National Fisheries Developments (NFD), Yi Man Fishery Company, Satlink, the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), and the Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR).  Tri Marine and NFD are contributing to project management, and installation, maintenance, and costs of the electronics.  FFA, via the EU funded DevFish 2 project, shares the equipment costs, and plays a major role in overall coordination.  Satlink provides and covers partial costs of the electronics, while also designating staff to installation, data monitoring and review.  Yi Man Fishery Company volunteered two vessels, allocating valuable time to facilitate installation along with some vessel space and resources to accommodate the equipment and human observers.  MFMR has provided human observers to overlap with the electronics, while SPC assigned a Field Coordinator to assist with observer placement, data review, and project evaluation and reporting.





Observer Placement MeetingObserver Placement Meeting.  Photo:  Matt Owens

This multi-stakeholder effort will assess whether or not video cameras, electronic storage, and vessel monitoring systems (VMS), combined with at-port inspections, can generate information sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the WCPFC Regional Observer Program minimum data fields.  Imagery collected will be reviewed after each vessel trip by MFMR, with FFA and Satlink involvement, using customized reviewer software.  Human observers will also be onboard conducting regular observer duties. Their results will be compared against those collected electronically. 

The project is being done with two vessels for two fishing trips which may last anywhere from 6-10 weeks each, for a total of four trips.  Early results will be presented at the WCPFC Scientific Committee meeting in August 2014, followed by a full report summarizing the findings, including cost-benefit analysis and recommendations for further development and implementation.

Camera Installation

Camera installation.  Photo:  Malo Hosken 

Although the project is unique and innovative in its application to distant water tuna longliners in this part of the Pacific, it does fall within the broader framework of WCPFC electronic technologies development.  E-reporting to digitize and streamline data recording by vessel and fisheries department staff has been tested with NFD purse seiners and is being expanded to other fleets.  E-monitoring, or EM, is already being applied under VMS requirements, and is now broadening to incorporate video systems like the one being tested with this project.

Next week, the WCPFC will advance these complimentary efforts by hosting an E-Monitoring and E-Reporting Workshop at FFA headquarters in Honiara from March 31-April 1.  The objective is to gain member input into progressing E-technology and developing a related proposal for the next Technical Compliance Committee Meeting.  An overview of the design and launch of this project will be presented at the workshop, with the hope that it will result in feedback to be applied for the upcoming second vessel trips.

Monitors, data storage and transmission equipment in captain’s quarters.Monitors, data storage and transmission equipment in captain’s quarters.  Photo:  Matt Owens

Although tuna resources face growing pressure, collaborative efforts like this one between industry and fisheries managers provide tangible results that can guide improvements.  Modern fishing technology is often blamed for negative impacts on the marine environment, but strategic application of new innovations can also contribute to improved science, and the monitoring, control and surveillance needed for a more sustainable future.

About:  Tri Marine’s global activities include fishing, procurement, processing, and trading of tuna, pelagic species like sardines, squid and mackerel, and other seafood products. A privately held company headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, Tri Marine has offices in 14 countries with several processing plants strategically located around the globe.  The company’s fleet of 25 fishing vessels includes tuna and pelagics purse seiners and pole and line boats, all operating in the Pacific Ocean.  Since its founding in 1971 in Singapore, Tri Marine has grown to be one of the largest tuna supply companies in the world.  Visit us at

Satlink S.L. is a Spanish company headquartered in Madrid with a presence in Vigo, Seychelles, Ecuador and Honiara. Satlink S.L designs and develops products and solutions for the tuna industry and fisheries authorities . SeaTube is a powerful electronic observer system designed to record and monitor fishing activities aboard any vessel. SeaTube utilizes HD cameras on board and land based review systems to analyse video data and track vessel activities.

Background on NFD & Tri Marine

National Fisheries Developments LTD (NFD) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Tri Marine Group of Companies. Tri Marine’s business includes fishing, procurement, processing, and trading of tuna and other seafood products. A privately held company headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, Tri Marine has offices in 14 countries with 12 processing plants strategically located around the globe.   The company’s fleet of 21 fishing vessels operates primarily in the Western Pacific, ten based in American Samoa.  Since its founding in 1971 in Singapore, Tri Marine has grown to be one of the largest tuna supply companies in the world serving well-known CPG brands as well as processing plants and fishing companies.