AFMA understands that the public cares about the state of fisheries, especially the impact of fishing on the marine environment. That is why we continually strive to find innovative ways, like e-monitoring, to see what is going on in the fisheries that we manage. By doing this, we can make the best decisions to ensure that our fisheries are sustainable now and into the future.

What is electronic monitoring

Electronic monitoring (e-monitoring) is a system of video cameras and sensors capable of monitoring and recording fishing activities, which can be reviewed later to verify what fishers report in their fishing logbooks.

These systems are now compulsory for most commercial fishing boats in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery, the Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery and the Gillnet, Hook and Trap fishery.

Electronic monitoring also:

  • helps AFMA to verify that fishers accurately report the amount and type of fish they catch
  • allows AFMA to verify that fishers report all interactions they may have with threatened, endangered and protected species
  • saves the fishing industry money, as on-board observers are not required for boats that have e-monitoring systems.

Benefits of electronic monitoring

  • Fishers can show they are responsible operators and follow fisheries management arrangements.
  • Fishers are responsible for their own actions and AFMA can work with individual fishers to improve their practices without penalising responsible fishers.
  • Over time the impact of e-monitoring will lead to improved data, enabling AFMA to make better management decisions and improve compliance with measures designed to protect both commercial and protected species.
Successful fishery management relies on the collection of data that accurately reflects fishing activities. Data on catch, effort and bycatch is used in scientific stock assessments to make sure that fishing is sustainable now and into the future.

With e-monitoring, AFMA, scientists and the public can be confident that fishing activities are independently monitored and that fisheries data is accurately reported.  This in turn helps improve the overall quality of scientific assessments and decision-making.

The use of e-monitoring in Australia will provide greater insight into fishing operations, including the state of fish stocks and the impacts of fishing on the marine environment. This will enhance AFMA’s ability to manage Commonwealth fisheries, and will provide consumers with confidence that the seafood they buy from Commonwealth managed fisheries is from a sustainable source with a low environmental impact.

How it works

Typically, an e-monitoring system includes several key components: three or more video cameras, a hydraulic gear sensor, a drum sensor, a GPS receiver, satellite communications and a control centre. Sensors on the drum and the vessel’s hydraulics trigger the video cameras to record both the gear being set and hauled. This fishing information is stored on the system’s hard drive for detailed analysis. Some information such as vessel location is transmitted to AFMA for real-time monitoring.

Monitoring and data collection

AFMA has contracted Archipelago Asia Pacific (AAP), a subsidiary of Archipelago Marine Research, to assist in the design and installation of e-monitoring, and the analysis of e-monitoring data.

E-monitoring data is used to independently verify fishers’ logbook information. Feedback will also be provided to fishers about how accurate their logbook reports are and where improvements can be made. Overseas experience has shown that logbook accuracy is greatly increased with e-monitoring.

AFMA collects fishing data in a number of different ways; e-monitoring is just one of them. Read more about AFMA’s monitoring and data collection programs

Are you a fisher? Please visit our e-monitoring page for industry for more information on your e-monitoring responsibilities

Frequently asked questions


E-monitoring allows AFMA to cross-check logbook data from fishers, to make sure that fishers are reporting everything they are meant to in their logbooks. This means that people choosing Australian seafood can be confident that it has been sustainably fished with a low environmental impact.
75 boats have been installed with e-monitoring systems across the GHAT, ETBF and WTBF fisheries
At this stage AFMA has implemented e-monitoring in the ETBF, WTBF and GHAT fisheries. Other fisheries still have human observers.
Video footage and other data are recorded on data drives. These are then analysed by Archipelago Asia Pacific and sent to AFMA.  Archipelago Asia Pacific also provides AFMA and fishers with a report on the quality of the video footage and a comparison of the fisher’s logbook report with what was seen on camera.

E-monitoring video footage is securely stored by AFMA and held for a minimum of six months. After this time, the footage may be erased and the data drive reformatted ready for use again. However, if the review of the footage identifies anything of concern, the footage will be kept for a longer time.

The e-monitoring cameras only record fishing activity. Cameras begin recording when sensors detect signals from the fishing gear. Cameras continue recording for a short while after the gear stops, ensuring that the whole fishing event is recorded. Cameras do not record at any other times.