Pilot project on electronic monitoring on pelagic freezer-trawlers

Under the new Common Fisheries Policy in the EU, a landing obligation will be implemented for the pelagic fishery 2015 onwards. This will require techniques for at sea monitoring to document compliance with the new regulation. In the pilot project Electronic Monitoring, PFA is exploring the application of Electronic Monitoring (EM) to achieve those monitoring objectives within the fishery.


Technology-based fishery monitoring, or electronic monitoring (EM), has emerged as an alternative to human observers and is being applied in a variety of fisheries around the world. The EM system records sensor and image data from fishing operations, and thus can be used to provide 100% monitoring of fishing activity. The efficacy of EM varies between fisheries but the technique has been successfully applied in monitoring a range of issues including fishing locations and times, catches (released and retained), fishing effort, protected species interactions, and mitigation measures.
In a previous pilot project, first experiences with Electronic Monitoring have been achieved (Bryan et al 2014, Pastoors et al 2014). In this second pilot project, the focus is on taking the lessons a step further and engaging the inspection agencies in a concrete and active manner.
The project has started in May 2014 and is expected to be finalized by April 2015.

Pilot project on net-innovation

Avoiding the bycatch of unwanted species or sizes is an important challenge that the landing obligation has set the fisheries. In the pilot project on net-innovation we are developing and testing specific grids that will allow the escape of unwanted fish (small size, species). The grids  will be tried and scientifically monitored on four PFA vessels (Dutch, German) during their fisheries for mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting.

Grids are based on different designs and using different materials. They will be tested during commercial operations in the autumn and winter of 2014-2015. Several vessels will carry an underwater camera that will be mounted in the net to observer the escape behaviour. A dedicated scientific monitoring programme will be part of the trials. The scientific monitoring links closely to the quality monitoring that is already taking place on board of the vessels. Comparisons between innovative gears and traditional gears will be obtained by fishing alternately with and without modified gears.

Pilot project on broadband echosounders

Pelagic fisheries are very dependent on acoustic measurements of fish schools. Species recognition by acoustic equipment would be an important asset to improve the species selectivity of the fishery. Several trials are already ongoing with forward looking broadband sonars and downward looking multi-frequency echosounders. The new generation of broadband echosounders are expected to provide a much higher resolution for better species recognition. The pilot project on broadband echosounders will test the potential applicability of this technique for commercial fisheries. 

Pilot project on making best-use of unwanted bycatch

Although the pilot projects aim to reduce unwanted bycatch as far as possible, some unavoidable bycatch is expected to remain. In this pilot project we are looking at the most innovative ways to make use of those unwanted bycatches. We are reviewing the bio-chemical content of different fish species and the expected bycatches in the future. By taking lessons from other branches, we intend to develop viable solutions that could be implemented within the companies that are members of PFA. 






PFA represents the interests of nine European freezer-trawler companies involved in pelagic fishing activities for human consumption.

Learn more about the PFA policy of sustainable and responsible production.

Check our certified