General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

Winner of the MedFish4Ever Award on innovative practices
in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Use of remote electronic monitoring, including closed-circuit television technology, as a control and monitoring tool

Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment, Cyprus

What is the project? 

Control and enforcement of fisheries management measures at sea has always been a challenge for authorities, particularly for vessels in distant locations. Deploying patrol boats is costly, and despite progress in identifying high-risk targets, the likelihood of detecting certain technical infringements remains low. In response, the Cyprus Department of Fisheries and Marine Research is piloting remote electronic monitoring (REM) technology, including closed-circuit television, as a tool to improve compliance. Installation of REM systems to monitor and securely store a record of fishing activities – using video footage and sensors to monitor net drum activity, door activity, light, etc. – enables a comparison to be made with vessel logbook declarations, revealing any discrepancies and ensuring enforcement of fisheries rules on overfishing, illegal discards, etc. It also supports detailed reporting of activities and catches, improving the overall quality of data gathered, with this enhanced information in turn contributing to long-term sustainable management.

Why does this matter?   

This innovation clearly relates to Target 2 of the GFCM 2030 Strategy: “Compliance and enforcement: a level playing field to eradicate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing”. Remote electronic monitoring systems support the monitoring of fishing activities 24/7 from any location. Operators can select certain fishing trips based on risk analysis, and detect possible infringements including illegal fishing, transshipments and discards, while that ensuring catches are correctly recorded and reported. Remote electronic monitoring also provides a tool to educate fishers on responsible practices, thus contributing to the development of a culture of compliance and respect for the marine environment.

How is the project impactful?  

The project’s analysis of the first fishing trips revealed a range of practices, some deliberate and others stemming from a lack of awareness, that did not adhere to national and regional regulations. In response to these findings, the project leaders collaborated with vessel captains and operators to implement a series of noteworthy enhancements. Consequently, logbooks and landing declarations are now being rigorously verified. Discards are comprehensively recorded, distinguishing between sharks, turtles, fish without allotted quotas, and undersized specimens. The project team even corrected the misidentification of specific shark species. Overall, fishing practices have become more responsible, and practices such as ocean littering have been eliminated. Furthermore, fisheries authorities now possess a significantly clearer understanding of the situation at sea at any given moment.

Location and possibility of replication in the GFCM area of application 

The two longliners in this first pilot are mostly active in the central Mediterranean, and another three vessels will soon be added to the development group. The technology itself can essentially be used anywhere in the world – indeed, this is a fundamental part of its design – so there’s enormous scope for applying it both in the Mediterranean and across the globe.