The UK Government has announced that remote electronic monitoring (REM) will soon become compulsory for all fishing vessels fishing in UK waters, including non-UK vessels.

The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said REM would ensure that catches are accurately recorded and that fish are not illegally thrown back into the sea. Data captured by cameras, gear sensors and GPS units will support fisheries by enabling sustainable resource management by the government and giving retailers and consumers greater confidence in the sustainability of UK fish. , the report said.

The move to REM was made in the wake of Brexit, which made the program possible, said UK Fisheries Minister Mark Spencer.

“Leaving the EU presents us with an opportunity to take a new approach to fisheries management that is in the best interests of the UK fishing industry,” he said.

Initially, volunteers from five priority fisheries will begin using the REM system this summer, helping their work improve the UK's monitoring targets and ensure the technology works for fishers. Once these monitoring targets are finalized and the REM system is successful, monitoring will become mandatory for all vessels in those fisheries.

“By leveraging this technology, we can sustainably manage fisheries resources to benefit the industry, future generations and the marine environment,” Spencer said.

Defra also confirmed that a different approach to managing discards will be adopted in England, with both landings and discards being subject to quota quotas from 2025. It said the quota used to cover waste varies and depends on the type of vessel and the type of gear used.

Additionally, a waste reduction scheme will be established to identify ways to reduce unnecessary capture in the first place.

Mr Defra said the scheme would work with regulators and industry to identify and resolve barriers to improved gear being used. Both approaches are expected to be implemented early next year. According to the department, the new reforms mark a “clear departure” from the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) tradition.

The introduction of the new electronic monitoring system follows the UK Marine Management Authority's partial failure to implement the Inshore Vessel Monitoring System (I-VMS) in 2023. The company had to pause deployment of new systems in May 2023 after two of the four systems were completed. Available devices approved for use in the I-VMS program (Satlink Nano and Maritime Systems MS44) did not meet the criteria after additional testing.

James Glover, managing director of Maritime Systems, disputed the move, saying MMO never gave the company a chance to rectify the problems, calling the process “a clear witch-hunt by MMO's senior management.” ”.

Despite problems with the initial deployment, MMO retried the I-VMS deployment in October 2023 after a pause.

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