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Camera at the stern of the ship (photo: courtesy Orpagu)

Orpagu promotes the bases for the standardization of the electronic observer in Spanish fishing

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Saturday, November 28, 2020, 19:00 (GMT + 9)

The Obepal project, which will last until November 2021, is a pioneer in Europe and is funded by the Biodiversity Foundation and the Ministry for Ecological Transition, through the Pleamar program.

A Guarda - The Organization of Guardeses Longliners, with the collaboration of numerous public and private institutions in the fishing sector, has launched the Obepal project, which aims to standardize the methodology of monitored electronic fishing observation, as an alternative and complement to the presence of physical observers on board, but maintaining the same reliability. This goal ranges from the installation conditions, to the obtaining of data, its analysis and the presentation of results in order to achieve transparency, sustainability and efficiency in the fishing activity, as well as to ensure the correct operation of the remote system.

For several years, the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) have promoted the presence of observers on vessels as a reliable control method and source of data. In fact, ICCAT requires 5% observation coverage on longline vessels and at the IATTC this requirement is gradually increasing to 20%. As the fleet knows, boarding a scientist is expensive and further limits an already small space such as a fishing vessel and in which several people have to live together for weeks, a situation that has worsened even more in recent years. times due to the pandemic.


That is why in recent years electronic monitoring has been developed as an alternative or complement to scientific observation, an option that is already reflected in the recommendations of regional fisheries organizations. To achieve this, the system needs some adjustments and, above all, a norm or standard that gives the possibility of certification of its methodology in terms of installation conditions, privacy of the crews, as well as data collection and analysis, something that doesn't exist yet. And this is where the Obepal project, promoted by the Organization of Guardeses Longliners (Orpagu), fits in.

With the collaboration of the CSIC Marine Research Institute, the Biodiversity Foundation and the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the co-financing of the FEMP, the project promoted by Orpagu, launched on November 1 and which will last one year, will know the current state of electronic observation, in terms of methodologies for data collection, analysis and presentation of results "based on the requirements of each Regional Fisheries Organization." All of this with the ultimate aim of certifying ships in this area of ​​such relevance for the sector.

Thus, once the project is completed, the results of both the developed standard and the certification processes will be disclosed, so that any interested entity can avail themselves of it. In addition to the collaboration of the CSIC as a recognized scientific body, the guarde longliners also have the Spanish Association for Standardization, for the study and development of a UNE standard that details and specifies all the requirements to be met so that electronic observation is certifiable and offers , therefore, reliability in terms of the data obtained from any body or administration with powers in this matter.

Swamp camera (Photo: courtesy Orpagu)

The data obtained under standardized and certified electronic monitoring may be used to improve fisheries management. Likewise, this method will avoid the problem of lack of space in those cases in which it is not possible to embark physical observers and will increase the coverage of scientific surveillance, which will facilitate the obtaining of more data for sustainable fisheries management.


In a first phase, Obepal will compile the documentation related to electronic monitoring, including visits to ships with EMS cameras (Electronic Monitoring System) and interviews with interested parties and the Administration. Afterwards, UNE will establish a Standardization Working Group that will bring together the representative stakeholders of the fishing sector to later prepare drafts of the Electronic Observation Standard, which will be validated by the interested parties until their final approval. Finally, criteria will be proposed that will lead to a certification methodology after consulting the parties involved.

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