Center for Fisheries Electronic Monitoring at Mote (CFEMM)

Fishing is a $200-billion industry in the United States, providing 1.7 million jobs. The economically important Gulf of Mexico Reef Fishery includes more than 800 commercial reef fish permitted vessels and comprises 42 species managed using Annual Catch Limits. Objective, scientific data are necessary to ensure the fishery’s health, but currently, NOAA Fisheries’ observer program is only able to monitor less than 2% of vessels in the fishery.

To complement this important program and fill monitoring gaps — a need emphasized by federal fisheries managers and the commercial industry — the independent, nonprofit Mote Marine Laboratory operates the Center for Fisheries Electronic Monitoring at Mote (CFEMM).

CFEMM is the only program dedicated to developing and assessing electronic monitoring (EM) technology as a tool in the Gulf of Mexico snapper grouper fishery to better meet the strong demand for accurate, independent data to ensure long-term fishery health.

What CFEMM does – “Eyes on the Gulf”

CFEMM advances electronic monitoring in partnership with the Gulf of Mexico commercial fishing industry, charters-for-hire, federal and state management organizations, subcontractors, EM equipment and software providers, and other stakeholders.  

Volunteer commercial fishers partner with CFEMM scientists and Saltwater Inc., a provider of EM equipment and software based in Anchorage, Alaska, to have specialized cameras, computer processors, and sensors installed on their fishing vessels (top right photo). These systems record the trip length, speed, hydraulic pressure, location, and fishing events (sets, soaks and hauls) on a timeline. Video recordings (with no sound) are reviewed confidentially by the CFEMM Team (bottom right photo) to document fishing effort, total catch and bycatch of species per event and trip, species kept/discarded, and species disposition at capture and release.

CFEMM scientists and partner Waterinterface LLC analyze the collected data to demonstrate and improve the available technology and data products — including much-needed bycatch data — for management of the valuable Gulf of Mexico snapper grouper fishery. CFEMM scientists correlate their EM trip data with identifiers for other fisheries monitoring data from the same trips, including observer logs, dealer trip tickets, and biological sampling to augment datasets for industry, Fishery Management Councils, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

CFEMM results summary

  • 18 bottom longline and vertical-line vessels from Florida and Texas have participated in EM research that provides real data of use to fisheries management.
  • More than 60,000 species-level catch, bycatch, and discard records including their catch and or release dispositions have been collected by and reviewed confidentially, to inform management while respecting commercial fishers.
  • CFEMM and partners have used EM as a tool to monitor more than 110 fishing trips.
  • More than 120 finfish and shark species have been recorded by CFEMM.
  • Efforts are under way to develop underwater documentation of large shark cut-offs using an underwater camera (UCAM) tied into the EM system — a monitoring priority for this fishery.
  • Testing in taking place for recording fish measurements, using a Saltwater Inc. software tool.
  • To learn more, please check out this 2017 story in Mote Magazine. Watch for updates.

Opportunities to work with CFEMM

We invite our colleagues from resource management agencies, Fishery Management Councils, scientific institutions and the fishing industry to contact CFEMM to explore opportunities for collaboration and knowledge exchange.

As part of the independent, nonprofit Mote Marine Laboratory, CFEMM depends on competitive grants and philanthropic support, along with a team of dedicated, trained citizen scientists.

Contact CFEMM

Carole L. Neidig, M.S.
Staff Scientist, Program Leader
Directorate for Fisheries and Aquaculture
cneidig@mote.org
941-704-7663
 

Projects in progress

Gulf-Wide Electronic Monitoring for a Sustainable Commercial Reef Fish Fishery
Funding: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)
Project partner organizations: Mote Marine Laboratory (leader), Waterinterface, LLC., Saltwater Inc., NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA/NMFS)
Participants/Contributors: Bay-N-Gulf, Inc., Blenker Boatworks & Marina, Fishbusterz, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, Katie’s Seafood, Save-On Seafood Company, Snug Harbor Boat Works, and Wild Seafood, and vessel owners, captains and crew.

Best Fishing Practices for Bycatch Reduction in the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Fishery: Employing Innovation Underwater Cameras and the Refined Modeling to Further the Use of Electronic Monitoring
Funding: Grant from the NOAA/NMFS Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program (BREP)
Project partner organizations: Mote Marine Laboratory (leader), Waterinterface, LLC, Saltwater Inc.
Participants/Contributors: Bay-N-Gulf, Inc., Blenker Boatworks & Marina, Fishbusterz, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, Hubbard’s Marina, Katie’s Seafood, Save-On Seafood Company, Snug Harbor Boat Works, Sub Aqua, and Wild Seafood and vessel owners, captains and crew from commercial bottom longline, vertical line “bandit,” and charter-for-hire vessels.

Reducing Bycatch and Optimizing Efficiency in the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Fishery, Phase I: Accurately Assessing the Bycatch Problem Using Electronic Monitoring in Cooperative Research (CRP)
Funding: Grant from NOAA’s Cooperative Research Project (CRP)
Project partner organizations: Mote Marine Laboratory (leader) and Waterinterface LLC Participants/Contributors: Bay-N-Gulf, Inc., Don’s Dock, Fishbusterz, Lewis Woods Welding, Save-On Seafood Company, Snug Harbor Boat Works, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, and Saltwater Inc., and vessel owners, captains and crew.

Completed projects

2016-2017: Accurately Assessing Catch and Bycatch with Electronic Monitoring (EM): The Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Fishery as a Model for EM Application and Improvement
Funding: Grant from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)
Project partner organizations: Mote Marine Laboratory (leader) and Waterinterface, LLC
Participants/Contributors: Bay-N-Gulf, Inc., Don’s Dock, Fishbusterz, Save-On Seafood Company, Snug Harbor Boat Works, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, Saltwater Inc., and Archipelago Marine Research, Ltd., and vessel owners, captains and crew.

2013-2017: Regional Capacity Building for Gulf Electronic Monitoring
Funding: Grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)
Project partner organizations: Mote Marine Laboratory (leader), Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Foundation, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, Waterinterface, LLC, and Archipelago Marine Research Ltd.
Participants/Contributors: Save-On Seafood Company, Fishbusterz, Wild Seafood, and vessel owners, captains and crew.

2012: Pilot study of the use of electronic monitoring systems in the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fishery Funding: Grant from the Ocean Conservancy
Project partner organizations: Ocean Conservancy (leader), Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, Archipelago Marine Research Ltd., East West Technical Services, and Mote Marine Laboratory

Other Mote Research Programs View All