The Eastern Pacific large pelagics – longline FIP (run by Martec) includes yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) and mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) in Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panama, and swordfish (Xiphias gladius) in Costa Rica. The fishery improvement project (FIP) is already implementing circle hooks, monofilament leaders, and different bait types to reduce bycatch, but they do not have electronic monitoring (EM) in place to collect data on the effectiveness of those mitigation practices. There is also a general lack of data collection in the region to clearly understand the types (species) and amounts of ETP bycatch interactions in the fishery.
SFP will work with The Nature Conservancy and Martec to implement EM on three vessels for one year. The EM will confirm that vessels are using best practices to reduce bycatch of sharks and sea turtles and will provide an opportunity to capture data on the frequency and locations of interactions and the result of the interactions (released alive, retained, mortality) as well as more specific data on the species of sharks and sea turtles. Instead of just focusing on the mahi season, this will be a year-round effort. These vessels fish for different species year-round, and having the EM onboard all year will give us a better sense of their bycatch challenges.
October 23, 2023
Two Panamanian tuna longline vessels have had two cameras installed by Integrated Monitoring, the electronic monitoring program being used in this project. One camera is a telescopic arm that points to where the fish come up, and the other camera is set to capture images from the deck. These two vessels, fishing out of Pedregal, have both completed two trips (approximately 15 days each) with the camera systems operational. Data collected during these trips was stored while the vessels were at sea, and the data was transmitted once the vessels were within a few miles of the coast. Data is being analyzed by AIS and a Peruvian team of EM Reviewers. In the next month, a third vessel will begin fishing with both the Integrated Monitoring system and Starlink, which will provide live feed of data.