At-Sea Observers and Electronic Monitoring

Beginning April 1, 2013, industry will assume the full costs of the At-Sea Observer Program nationally, as well as the Groundfish Electronic Monitoring Program in the Pacific Region.

Canada's At-Sea Observer Program places certified private-sector observers aboard fishing vessels to: monitor fishing activities; collect scientific data; and monitor industry compliance with fishing regulations and licence conditions. The Department now has standards in place to designate individual at-sea observers and corporations seeking to provide at-sea observer services. A list of corporations certified by the Canadian General Standards Board and designated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada is now available for industry to engage.

The Pacific Region's Groundfish Electronic Monitoring Program uses multiple cameras and sensory devices onboard fishing vessels to monitor fishing activities; collect scientific data; and monitor industry compliance with fishing regulations and licence conditions. The Department presently has requirements for electronic monitoring set out in licence conditions and the Groundfish Integrated Fisheries Management Plan.

As part of this service delivery change, the Department is taking steps to review and update groundfish licence conditions and the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan to ensure that all electronic monitoring requirements are clearly established. The development of electronic monitoring standards through the Canadian General Standards Board, and Departmental designations against those standards, is not being pursued at this time.

What is changing?

  • Beginning April 1, 2013, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will no longer share the costs of the at-sea observer program - nor will the Department pay any costs related to the Electronic Monitoring Program delivered in the Pacific Region.
  • Industry will now enter directly into contracts with at-sea observer service providers that are certified by the Canadian General Standards Board and designated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
  • Interested companies may continue to apply to the Canadian General Standards Board to become certified, and then, to the Department to become designated as a service provider for at-sea observer services.
  • As of April 1, 2013, industry in the Pacific Region will also now enter directly into contracts with electronic monitoring service providers that are approved by the Department as meeting the requirements for the provision of electronic monitoring services set out in the groundfish licence conditions and Integrated Fisheries Management Plan.

How will these changes benefit industry?

  • Fishermen will have greater control over the operational elements of the at-sea observer program.
  • Fishermen will have greater ability to select their at-sea observer or electronic monitoring service provider and negotiate fees for this service directly with the provider.

Will Fisheries and Oceans Canada play any role in this program?

  • The Department will focus on monitoring and auditing the program to ensure data integrity and continued industry compliance.
  • The Department will also be responsible for standard setting and service provider certification and approval.

We have been informing observer companies, fisheries organizations, and fishermen about these changes to help them prepare for these changes.

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