Observers and Innovations | WWF
Transparency and traceability are crucial for good fisheries management. Video monitoring of catch and discard as well as the use of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) 24/7 will substantially increase safety at sea for the crew and observers on board fishing vessels.
Ihe presence of observers on fishing vessels is an effective way to ensure that rules and regulations are actually being followed.mportantly, it also provides valuable opportunities to engage and teach the fishers about the importance of conservation and the longer term value of sustainably managed fisheries. Additionally, the fishers themselves are given an opportunity to impart their important local knowledge of the fisheries they operate within.

Independent observers on vessels who monitor and record bycatch and catches form  a very important part within effective fisheries management plans.However, monitoring, control, and surveillance of fishing vessels and their activities are difficult tasks, especially on the high seas.Consequently, many fisheries lack adequate observer coverage and even when a fisheries management body does have the desire to implement observers it can be too costly to implement effectively.

"Governments worldwide should make the installation of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) mandatory for every commercial fishing vessel to create transparency of fishing operations." 
Alfred Schumm, Smart Fishing Initiative Leader.

The value of observers

The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), responsible for management of the tuna fishery in the eastern Pacific Ocean, has made the presence of observers compulsory on all tuna purse seine vessels. This has been integral to successful efforts to reduce dolphin mortalities to near zero in tuna purse seine fisheries.

In the same region, a partnership between fishermen, WWF, IATTC and NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) has resulted in extensive observer coverage on the longline fleet which is proving invaluable in informing fishermen about the correct usage of circle hooks as a way of reducing marine turtle bycatch from longline fisheries.


How can aquatic and aerial drones, satellite remote sensing, video imaging, and laser applications benefit global fisheries?
WWF brought together fisheries monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) practitioners and the most advanced technology providers in their fields for a two day workshop in March where they explored the potential of new technologies such as drones, lasers, and advanced computing to fight illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in some of our most important fisheries. The workshop determined that many of these new and developing technologies are mature and ready for implementation while many others are rapidly advancing toward practical and economic solutions. Several MCS practitioners and government agencies established strong connections with the technology providers as a result of the event.

The materials presented at the workshop can be found here:
2016 MCS Emerging Technologies Workshop


WWF believes that technology could be the driving force in improving the way that oceans are managed and seeks to position itself as one of the leaders in innovative change through disruptive technologies.