An anonymous reader shares a report: New England’s groundfish season is in full swing, as hundreds of dayboat fishermen from Rhode Island to Maine take to the water in search of the region’s iconic cod and haddock. But this year, several dozen of them are hauling in their catch under the watchful eye of video cameras as part of a new effort to use technology to better sustain the area’s fisheries and the communities that depend on them. Video observation on fishing boats — electronic monitoring — is picking up steam in the Northeast and nationally as a cost-effective means to ensure that fishing vessels aren’t catching more fish than allowed while informing local fisheries management. While several issues remain to be solved before the technology can be widely deployed — such as the costs of reviewing and storing data — electronic monitoring is beginning to deliver on its potential to lower fishermen’s costs, provide scientists with better data, restore trust where it’s broken, and ultimately help consumers gain a greater understanding of where their seafood is coming from. […] Human observers are widely used to monitor catch in quota-managed fisheries, and they’re expensive: It costs roughly $700 a day for an observer in New England. The biggest cost of electronic monitoring is the labor required to review the video. Perhaps the most effective way to cut costs is to use computers to review the footage. Christopher McGuire, marine program director for TNC in Massachusetts, says there’s been a lot of talk about automating the review, but the common refrain is that it’s still five years off. To spur faster action, TNC last year spearheaded an online competition, offering a $50,000 prize to computer scientists who could crack the code — that is, teach a computer how to count fish, size them, and identify their species. The contest exceeded McGuire’s expectations. “Winners got close to 100 percent in count and 75 percent accurate on identifying species,” he says.
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