Fishermen at the helm of a shift in monitoring
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News from Ecotrust Canada

Cross-Border Crabbing


Tucked away on the western shores of Washington State lies the small town of Westport, home to the Quinault Indian Nation’s Dungeness crab fishing fleet – and a quiet shift in American fisheries management.

Twenty-five vessels form the Quinault crab fleet, deploying 10,000 crab traps per season. The fleet has recognized the need to track fishing activity and trap locations in order to prevent gear abandonment and tampering. Coupled with an industry-wide recognition that fishing has become more difficult due to environmental and enforcement issues, the Quinault are leading the drive for better and more transparent data collection to help them manage these challenges.

Our electronic monitoring emphasizes accessibility, giving the Quinault information they can use to co-manage their fisheries and hopefully change the status quo around crab monitoring in Washington State.

Last year, 3 Quinault vessels piloted our monitoring system. This year, the entire fleet is sporting Ecotrust Canada’s EM boxes, and they’re hoping non-Native fishermen will join them too.


Bryan Pawlina is a fourth-year Engineering Physics student at UBC. Originally hailing from the Comox Valley, Bryan joins us as an electronic monitoring technician at our Prince Rupert office – or wherever the program takes him. “Electronic monitoring has been very fulfilling for me. It’s quite novel to provide an automated solution to an industry that is otherwise very manual.”

EM will help the Quinault obtain the data they need to sustain the fishery and achieve the stability they need to sustain their fleet.”


The Pacific Northwest’s Dungeness crab fishery does not currently have consistent, federally regulated at-sea monitoring. But with more attention to the question of seafood sustainability, it’s not surprising that fisheries are moving in this direction. And the fact that fishermen are at the helm of this shift is a refreshing change; where most Canadian fisheries policymaking is still using a top-down approach, this American fishery is decidedly bottom-up.

The Quinault represent a sea change in fisheries management. Not only are they demanding change, they are demonstrating that it can be done; cost-effective monitoring can benefit fishermen and managers alike.

We are proud to support the Quinault in their pursuit of a triple-bottom-line solution: one that benefits people, place, and pocket alike. 


With thanks,

Brenda Kuecks, President