Data for Electronic Monitoring Cost-Benefit Analysis

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Data for Electronic Monitoring Cost-Benefit Analysis

This paper is part of a series that summarizes discussions from the 2022 Global Electronic Monitoring Symposium, which convened more than 50 EM experts, both in person and virtually, for a three-day workshop. The symposium focused both on the use of electronic monitoring programs to increase oversight and transparency in international fisheries management and on existing barriers to the uptake of EM. Although this series of papers does not represent an exhaustive discussion of the issues, it includes the key points that symposium participants raised.

Worth $40 billion a year at the final point of sale, tuna species require effective management and monitoring to ensure sustainability. One way to strengthen monitoring oversight is to employ tools that allow cost-effective collection of data. Electronic monitoring—using technology to collect and analyze data on a fleet’s catch, fishing efforts and discards—is a potential tool for parts of the global tuna industry where traditional monitoring programs cannot be used: for example, on longline vessels where human observers are not easily placed. However, as with any new fishery tool, there are concerns about cost.

To support the consideration and development of electronic monitoring (EM) programs and help address economic concerns, policymakers and industry leaders are increasingly requesting cost-benefit analyses (CBAs). Three recent reports attempt to answer this call: a study by researchers from Sea Change Economics, the University of California, San Diego, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that examined the costs and benefits of implementing EM on eastern Pacific longline vessels; and two studies by Poseidon Fisheries Research that estimated the costs and benefits of an EM program for the Western and Central Pacific purse seine fisheries associated with the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency. Each report found that wide adoption of EM would provide a positive net benefit to the fisheries due to factors such as increased scientific data, reduced mortality of bycatch species, increased market premiums for tuna and better compliance with fishing rules and regulations.

The two regional reports can form a model for future research, but future studies that look at different areas, gears or fleets will require specific information from the relevant fisheries. A standardized form would be helpful to ensure that future reports could be comparable.

The Pew Charitable Trusts provided funding for this project, but Pew is not responsible for errors in this paper and does not necessarily endorse its findings or conclusions.

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