Monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) are challenging in wild capture fisheries and insufficient MCS has resulted in unsustainable fishing practices, data limitations in stock assessment and management, lack of transparency and unfair competitive advantage for those not following the rules. Major expenses and efforts are awarded to MCS, but effectiveness and coverage is generally very limited. There are however a number of emerging and already available technological solutions that can be applied to significantly improve MCS and reduce costs at the same time. These solutions are generally referred to as Electronic Monitoring (EM) or Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) solutions.
The Nordic countries are generally considered to have well-regulated fisheries and relatively good MCS. The authorities in these countries do however also understand that they need to keep up with new technology and use them when applicable to improve their fisheries. Denmark, Norway and Iceland have for example been awarding increasing attention to REM in recent years. As part of that work, the Nordic Council’s Working Group for Fisheries (AG-Fisk) funded a networking project in 2019 that was to facilitate a conference on REM, where experts in the field would present information on current state and emerging solutions for Fully Documented Fisheries (FDF). The conference was held in November 2019 in Reykjavík and the proceedings along with short summary are presented in this report. The report also contains concluding remarks in the end where the most important issues are summarised, and comments made on developments that have taken place from the time of the conference until the publication of this report.
It is evident that EM will not solve all problems when it comes to MCS of fisheries, but such solutions can be important tools to facilitate more efficient MCS and even reduce cost and/or increase coverage. The Nordic countries have not been in the forefront of implementing REM technologies (possibly with the exception of Denmark) where countries such as Canada, US, New Zealand, Australia and Chile have paved the way. The Nordic countries are therefore in the position to learn from those that have gone before them, use what has proven to be successful and avoid making the mistakes they did.
Several relevant pilot trials and research projects are currently ongoing in the Nordic countries and on European level. There are also ongoing similar initiatives elsewhere in the world and full implementation of some elements of REM are also taking place. It is important for the Nordic regions to follow and take part in these initiatives, as the authors of this report believe that REM solutions can be extremely effective tools for MCS in the future.