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Deckhand™ Pro Logs Another Season on the F/V Iceberg Point

I recently returned from Alaska, having safely completed my twentieth year in the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to blend my role as a skipper with my position as Deckhand Logbook’s business development manager for North America, where our primary goal as a company is to develop and deploy Deckhand as an innovative “fishermen-first” electronic logbook solution for harvesters worldwide. 

Considering these two roles, my fishing boat is a natural testing ground for Deckhand. This summer proved to be the most exciting yet in terms of how far the software has come. After lots of hard work and dedication by our team, I saw firsthand how our software is now more than just a logbook for mandated electronic reporting: it has now evolved into a true “fishman’s logbook.” Many of the things I was once writing on paper, for my own use, were now able to be recorded in Deckhand. 

Bristol Bay is an extremely unforgiving environment for a piece of software, let alone an iPad: low connectivity, relatively small fishing boats, rough weather, and round-the-clock fishing make it difficult to even want to interact with an app. However, over the years, we’ve worked hard to evolve Deckhand into a tool that fishermen enjoy using. 

The version of Deckhand Pro I tested was designed specifically for Bristol Bay. Our Catchflow™ technology allows our team to rapidly design, adjust, and deploy customized versions of Deckhand Pro to fisheries with specific needs. Bri Snell, our tech support team member in North America, built the “Bristol Bay Catchflow” and I loaded it into my copy of Deckhand Pro prior to leaving for the fishing grounds.

I collected specific data that a typical Bristol Bay fisherman would be interested in collecting, such as onboard refrigeration data, catch-on-board and loading data specific to individual fish holds, the average weight of fish (to calculate total estimated poundage on board), and processor-specific delivery information when it came time to offload. Bri was even able to add in a button to choose the type of crane picks when delivering at the tender vessel (single or double) with associated weights. Finally, I could look at the running tallies of my season as time went on. 

Keep in mind that the data I collected during this testing phase was for my own use. For example, refrigeration info can be used later during the off-season to reconcile fish hold temperatures against the HOBO data loggers we’re required by processors to carry. I can look at drifts that I made on the map screen to see where I spent most of my time during the past season and caught most of my fish. Graphs can be generated to show when, during the season, most of my landings by weight were made. And that’s just the start. 

In the end, this is the point that really energizes me: this season, I could finally do away with my paper “Captain Jack’s” logbook and record all my season tallies for my business using Deckhand Pro. Regulations and rules aside – when we can finally say, as a company (and when I can finally say, as a harvester), that Deckhand is replacing the fisherman’s paper logbook, progress is being made and our customers are the winners.

– Lange Solberg

Deckhand™ Pro Logs Another Season on the F/V Iceberg Point2021-12-01T21:40:58+00:00

DECKHAND™ PRO APPROVED BY NMFS FOR eVTRs

Real Time Data’s Deckhand Pro electronic logbook was approved as an official electronic vessel trip report (eVTR) application by the NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Office in early May. This means that soon, federally-permitted fishermen will be able to use the software to collect data and submit eVTRs once the software goes “live” later this summer.  

The approval was a welcome milestone for the company, which has been working to tailor Deckhand Pro for fishermen in the Greater Atlantic Region for the past several months. Approval comes at the right time, too — beginning November 10, 2021, federally-permitted fishermen in the region (with some exceptions/exemptions) will be required to switch to electronic reporting from the current paper VTR framework. Real Time Data hopes to demonstrate to fishermen that Deckhand truly is fisherman-first technology that will make the transition to electronic reporting the easiest it can be. 

On top of basic eVTR reporting, Real Time Data is also working on additional features to be released later this summer which will increase Deckhand Pro’s value to fishermen. The aim is to provide tools in the software that will be beneficial to the daily operation of the vessel, fishing business, and bottom line. 

Real Time Data will announce details about the launch of Deckhand Pro in the coming weeks. 

*Deckhand™ Pro will not be available to submit eVTRs to NOAA Fisheries until after the official “Deckhand™ Pro for GARFO” launch date. Launch date will be announced on www.deckhandlogbook.com as well as through other platforms. 

Photo: Patrick Lalonde

DECKHAND™ PRO APPROVED BY NMFS FOR eVTRs2021-12-01T21:40:58+00:00

DECKHAND™ PRO: NORTH TO ALASKA

For many, December is a time for throttling back, perhaps taking some time off work, and enjoying holiday festivities. For others, the holiday season is the time to depart for the frigid fishing grounds of the Bering Sea, in search of an abundant opilio (snow) crab harvest.

In collaboration with the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers (ABSC), four vessels volunteered to trial Real Time Data’s (RTD) Deckhand Pro platform for the duration of the 2021 snow crab season. The objective was to send Deckhand Pro to one of the most rugged and remote fisheries on the planet to collect feedback from captains on feasibility and willingness to incorporate electronic logbooks into their daily operations.

Crab and groundfish harvesters have long been used to filling out the National Marine Fisheries Service Daily Fishing Logbook (DFL) for many years now. The DFL requires skippers to input a plethora of data by hand, including the latitude and longitude positions of each string of gear, gear identification information, and, of course, data on bycatch and target species. During a visit by RTD staff to Dutch Harbor last year, skippers expressed a strong desire to move away from what many call an arduous and sometimes unsafe recordkeeping process and in the direction of logbook technology that does much of the work on behalf of fishermen.

The trial has been a success with feedback from fishermen overwhelmingly positive. A basic version of Deckhand was used to replicate the DFL, and could be customized further for the Bering Sea crab fishery. This gave skippers a good sense of what using an electronic logbook designed specifically for their working environment could evolve to be. Fishermen kept in touch with Real Time Data 24/7 throughout the season via marine broadband, offering input and advising of any bugs or other issues that arose.

“I really appreciate the crew at Real Time Data letting us be a part of the Deckhand Pro trial in the Bering Sea. I’m looking forward to working with them in the future to help make this electronic logbook a fixture in our crab fisheries,” said Mark Casto, skipper of the fishing vessel Pinnacle.

“From a proof-of-concept standpoint, we’re really pleased with the trial. Using Deckhand Pro in a test scenario was totally an extra thing for the participants to take on, on top of all their other responsibilities. But it is clear to us that this is where fishermen want to go,” said Lange Solberg, business development manager for Real Time Data North America.

Jamie Goen, Executive Director for ABSC, agrees. “We are excited that the electronic logbook trial has gone so well. We are looking forward to working with Real Time Data to further build a tool that is incredibly useful and easy for our skippers to use for their own data needs, in addition to being responsive to federal and state reporting requirement

DECKHAND™ PRO: NORTH TO ALASKA2021-12-01T21:40:58+00:00

STEAMING TOWARD APPROVAL: DECKHAND™ PRO IN THE GREATER ATLANTIC

Real Time Data’s (RTD) Deckhand Pro electronic logbook platform is moving closer to federal approval as an eVTR solution in Greater Atlantic federal fisheries. When approved, it will be an electronic logbook designed and built by a company with commercial fishermen on the payroll.

 

“We’re excited, we’re ready,” says Lange Solberg, business development manager for Real Time Data North America and captain of a salmon vessel in Alaska. “We’ve cleared a lot of hurdles with the technology and come to a point where we’re just eager to get it in the hands of fishermen, get it out on the water.” 

 

As RTD works through the federal approval process, some fishermen in New England are testing Deckhand Pro, giving feedback, and imagining it as the “new way” to submit vessel trip reports to the Greater Atlantic Regional Office. However, RTD isn’t solely aiming to provide a solution for electronic trip reporting. 

 

“We’re really focused on giving fishermen a great and even enjoyable experience when using the platform,” notes Solberg. “Our product roadmap is deep and wide, and I would say that the majority of tasks on that roadmap wholly geared toward fishermen having a completely redefined logbook experience where the mandatory trip report piece is actually only a small fraction of all that the product can offer from a standpoint of value.”

 

When Deckhand Pro is approved by NMFS, the Greater Atlantic eVTR workflow will be available through the Apple App Store for use on the iPad. Webinars and tutorials will also be available in conjunction with the rollout of new eVTR regulations in the GARFO region. Check out the Deckhand Logbook website and the GARFO eVTR information page for updates.

STEAMING TOWARD APPROVAL: DECKHAND™ PRO IN THE GREATER ATLANTIC2021-12-01T21:40:58+00:00

NEW PROPOSED & FINAL RULES PUBLISHED FOR GREATER ATLANTIC & GULF OF MEXICO ELECTRONIC REPORTING

On July 17, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published a proposed rule for expanding electronic reporting in the Greater Atlantic Region. This rule mandates 100% electronic reporting for commercial fishermen in the Mid-Atlantic and New England Council fishery management regions as well as federally-permitted for-hire party/charter operators in the New England management region. 

 

For-hire operators in the Mid-Atlantic management region have been mandated to electronically report since April 2019. 

Under the rule, fishermen would be required to submit electronic vessel trip reports (eVTRs) within 48 hours of the end of a trip. Current electronic and paper reporting takes place on a weekly or monthly basis, depending on fishery and species. Document retention requirements would also no longer be necessary.

 

It is still unknown at this time when exactly the final rule will be published and take effect. The public comment period for the proposed rule ends 17 August 2020. 

In the Gulf of Mexico fishery management region, NMFS has recently published a final rule concerning federally-permitted for-hire charter/headboat operators. Beginning January 5, 2021, fishermen must submit an electronic hail-out report prior to departure and an electronic fishing trip report prior to offloading fish, or within 30 minutes of arrival if no fish are to be landed. Further vessel tracking regulations are slated to take effect at a later date, which has yet to be announced by NMFS. 

This rulemaking comes as electronic monitoring and reporting continue to become more critical to fisheries management in the age of increasingly-accessible technology. As innovation in the private sector evolves and agencies respond to fisher interest in electronic solutions for paper-based reporting and human observers, policies are increasingly becoming reflective of a changing age. 

NEW PROPOSED & FINAL RULES PUBLISHED FOR GREATER ATLANTIC & GULF OF MEXICO ELECTRONIC REPORTING2021-12-01T21:40:58+00:00

MEET LANGE SOLBERG

Meet Lange Solberg, Business Development Manager for Real Time Data’s North America operations. For two years, Lange has expanded RTD’s Australia origins into commercial fishing markets in the US and Canada. With offices based on Bellingham, Washington’s working waterfront, Lange continues to work hard at making RTD’s flagship product, the Deckhand electronic logbook, a tool that will enable fishers to move away from paper-based electronic reporting and make their fishing businesses more efficient. Lange is not a software developer; instead, he is an experienced fishing industry professional and spends his time out in the field testing the product and engaging with fishermen when he’s not in the office. 

For the months of June and July, Lange puts on his captain’s hat and runs the F/V Iceberg Point, a sockeye salmon vessel in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Lange is a third generation fisherman and began fishing on his father’s boat at the age of 12. In 2013, he took over the family business and has reinvested and expanded the fishing operation in subsequent years. 

He has been fortunate to be able to integrate his successful fishing business into his work with Real Time Data. With a master’s degree in marine affairs from the University of Washington, Lange has been able to marry his passion for fishing and being on the water with his passions for exploring the intersection of sustainable fisheries and innovative technology. 

Working closely with software developers and company leaders in Australia, Lange and his North America team have been working to integrate Deckhand with the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office of NOAA Fisheries. When deployed, Deckhand will allow fishers with federal permits to submit electronic vessel trip reports (eVTRs) on the first platform of its kind in North America.

“As fishermen begin using Deckhand to submit eVTRs, a ton of product design and development will have been accomplished that really needed to happen to ensure a successful debut into all US and Canadian fisheries. Our development team is incredibly talented and making amazing strides. Momentum will only accelerate,” he said.

When not commercial fishing or on the job with Real Time Data, Lange has recently been repowering and refitting his 32-foot Bristol sailboat in his hometown of Bellingham and spending time on Lopez Island (part of the San Juan Island archipelago) on the family farm. Most importantly, Lange can’t get enough of his young daughter, Freja and wife, Carley, who is also a commercial fisher in Alaska. 

MEET LANGE SOLBERG2021-12-01T21:40:58+00:00

PROGRESS & COLLABORATION AT THE NOAA ELECTRONIC MONITORING WEST COAST WORKSHOP

Which would you rather attend: The NOAA Electronic Monitoring West Coast Workshop or the latest blockbuster movie? If you said the movie, you may need to think twice.

An unexpectedly broad spectrum of information, cooperation and an incredible industry dynamic marked the most recent electronic monitoring (EM) workshop in Washington State last week. Similar to the workshop in New Hampshire during the autumn of 2019, this gathering offered NOAA staff, technology service providers, fishermen, NGOs, and other stakeholders the opportunity to spend two days collaborating and discussing issues facing the fishing industry as it slowly adopts new EM technologies. Service providers also set up tables in a vendor area to demonstrate their own EM and electronic reporting (ER) products. 

A particularly energetic panel discussion took place during the morning of the second day of the workshop. Several EM service providers took to the stage to share their experiences and projects worldwide as they work with governments, grant programs, and fishermen to deploy EM products. Diverse views were expressed by both the panel and the audience on how EM could provide value to fishermen on top of serving as a compliance tool. The very nature of the technology, the fisheries in need of EM solutions, and the degree to which stakeholders might allow the free market to dictate equilibrium in innovation and costs were hot (though respectfully) contested topics. Both the panel and audience clearly appreciated the dialogue and felt that some overall progress in the discussion had been made. 

Several sessions took place daily in the form of presentations and discussion panels. Participants in the audience were able to ask questions of expert panelists. The atmosphere was one of genuine desire to share information and advance further toward solving the many logistical, regulatory, and policy issues facing NOAA staff, technology providers, and fishermen. Session topics included data privacy and ownership, compliance, artificial intelligence, program funding, standards and interoperability, and regional experiences in EM-related initiatives across the US. 

The NOAA EM West Coast Workshop proved to be two packed days of networking and collaboration across stakeholder groups, all with an interest in finding ways to deploy cutting-edge technology to ensure a future of sustainable fisheries. After the workshop wrapped up, participants shook hands and scattered to all parts of the country and world to continue working on their own innovative projects in the EM and ER space.

PROGRESS & COLLABORATION AT THE NOAA ELECTRONIC MONITORING WEST COAST WORKSHOP2021-12-01T21:40:58+00:00

ELECTRONIC REPORTING MANDATES HOT TOPIC AMONG COUNCILS

Three federal fishery management councils on both US coasts have recently been discussing and acting on electronic logbook-related policies. 

Since 2018, the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils have been deliberating on whether or not all commercial fishermen harvesting species managed by the councils should switch to mandatory electronic vessel trip reports (eVTRs). Charter operators in the Mid-Atlantic region are currently required to submit eVTRs. In December and January, the Mid-Atlantic and New England Councils respectively took final action on mandating eVTRs with a 48-hour reporting deadline after each trip for commercial fishermen. With an implementation timeframe of roughly a year after final ruling, software developers, managers, and fishermen will have time to build, learn and adapt to electronic reporting technologies. Workshops will also be held around the region for users of the software to get acquainted through 2020. 

On the west coast, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council took up discussion at their January/February meeting on the topic of electronic logbooks in the Bering Sea Aleutian Island (BSAI) crab fisheries. Currently, BSAI crab fleets fill out and submit daily fishing logbooks (DFLs) to the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. With the exception of a handful of larger catcher-processor vessels using NOAA eLandings software, no electronic solution is used by the crab fishermen. An e-logbook discussion paper and cost analysis was prepared by council staff and presented at this most recent meeting. After testimony and discussion, the Council decided to table indefinitely further deliberation on building and implementing electronic logbooks for the crab fleet. Instead, the industry itself will continue searching for third party solutions which will not only satisfy reporting requirements but add value to data collection methods employed by fishermen while at sea. 

ELECTRONIC REPORTING MANDATES HOT TOPIC AMONG COUNCILS2021-12-01T21:40:58+00:00

TECHNOLOGY AT SEA: A REFRESHER ON EM, ER, AND VMS.

The evolution of technology in commercial fisheries is as constant as the industry itself. Traps, nets, engines, electronics, and materials have always been changing at varying paces through time. It is worth remembering that adopting new technologies, even if in some cases it’s mandator, can empower fishermen and make one’s operation more efficient.

Key among those are vessel monitoring systems (VMS), electronic monitoring (EM), and electronic reporting (ER). Many don’t understand what these technologies are or how they fit alongside one another.

Vessel monitoring system, or VMS, is a technology used to track vessels in near real time using devices on board which transmit location via satellite to shore based enforcement facilities. This is different from an automatic identification system (AIS), a vessel location system which uses the VHF radio band to transmit similar data and is accessible to anyone with the right equipment. VMS began as a tool to aid in fisheries enforcement in the 1990s in several fisheries worldwide. Now, most U.S. fishermen harvesting in federal waters must use a VMS transponder to transmit relevant location data back to National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Most inshore and state-managed fisheries around the U.S. do not have a VMS requirement. VMS data is typically not publicly available due to privacy, law enforcement and security concerns.

The commercial catch of target and non-target species is monitored primarily through the use of independent observers in U.S. federal fisheries. Due to cost and efficiency, many are now transitioning to electronic monitoring (EM) using mounted cameras. In particular, small boat fishermen in federal waters have been interested in switching over to fixed camera technology to ease the burden of carrying an additional person on board. EM is being tested around the country in various phases, depending on region. Innovation in camera technology, such as species identification using artificial intelligence is also well underway. Think about the artificial intelligence behind a mobile banking app, which reads a check deposited using a smartphone. EM makes catch and discard monitoring more efficient on board for those fishermen already required to carry observers.

Another technology that is becoming more common across fisheries is electronic reporting (ER). ER is the digitization of fish tickets or landings reports that fishermen have traditionally submitted to regulators in paper form.

Depending on the sophistication of the ER software, it can also be a powerful tool to provide real-time data to fishermen. It saves time when entering logbook data and calculating catch totals while allowing fishery managers to process landings data much more quickly, accurately, and efficiently. ER has been developed on devices ranging from special hardware to desktop computers and now is prevalent on tablets and smartphones. Many tablets and most smartphones running ER software also have GPS chips built in and may be able to serve as a low-cost alternatives to VMS, particularly in fisheries where vessel tracking has not yet been implemented.

East Coast fishermen are most familiar with reporting requirements through the submission of vessel trip reports (VTRs). Since March 2018, party and charter vessel operators in the Mid-Atlantic region have been submitting mandatory electronic VTRs (eVTRs), primarily using either free or paid apps on smartphones and tablets. The Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Councils have been deliberating on eVTR reporting and its potential application to all commercial federal fisheries in both regions. According to the Mid-Atlantic Council website, the Council chose in December to implement eVTRs in the region with a 48-hour deadline for submission after completion of a trip. The New England Fishery Management Council is currently deciding on the issue.

Maine lobstermen are required to meet a 100% harvester reporting requirement under Addendum 26 of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s lobster management plan by 2024.

Each technology serves a different purpose for fishermen and fishery managers. Adopting any new technology on a fishing vessel presents its challenges. Embracing the various EM, ER, and VMS solutions, however, can provide an opportunity to empower one’s own business operation with the specific advantages these innovative technologies can provide while fishing.

Lange Solberg wrote this article as a guest columnist for the February 2020 edition of LANDINGS Maine Lobstermen’s Community Alliance’s newspaper.

TECHNOLOGY AT SEA: A REFRESHER ON EM, ER, AND VMS.2021-12-01T21:40:58+00:00

ANOTHER PACIFIC MARINE EXPO LOGGED

Seattle, Washington: December 3, 2019 — Over 500 exhibitors and thousands of attendees descended on the annual Pacific Marine Expo, held November 21-23 at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle, Washington. PME is an annual trade show targeting the commercial marine industry, with many who attend representing the commercial fishing sector.

Under the booth name Deckhand Electronic Logbook, Real Time Data made its debut as an exhibitor at the show with the goal of introducing its customizable logbook software and fisheries data management system, coming to North American markets mid-2020. Co-founder Simon Dick and North America business development manager Lange Solberg chatted with industry stakeholders, answered questions, and learned about ways Deckhand can work for fisheries throughout the US and Canada.

While Pacific Marine Expo is marketed as serving west coast commercial marine and fishing markets from California to Alaska, Solberg thinks the show seems to reach farther than just the west coast.

“I’ve been coming to this show since I was a kid and have worn many hats here professionally over the years,” he notes. “As the years go on, the show seems to cover more geographical ground in terms of attendees who show up as well as those exhibiting.”

Solberg pointed out that the Real Time Data team had conversations with people from British Columbia to Nova Scotia, Maine to Alaska, and Japan to Norway.

PME is also regarded as an important time for industry associations, seafood processors, manufacturers, and other groups to bring their constituents and customers together for end-of-year gatherings, meetings, and product demonstrations. Many fisheries are winding down or have wrapped up for the season by the time the show rolls around. Decision makers – from vessel owners to seafood processing plant managers – are always eager to learn about the latest technology and innovations to make the business of fish smarter and more efficient. Many make significant purchases at the show.

Furthermore, PME is an important place to discuss relevant issues facing the industry. This year, a keynote discussion and panel on the proposed Pebble Mine in Southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay took place on the main stage. Other sessions on fishing vessel safety, young fisherman apprentice programs, and a maritime industry economic outlook also drew interested crowds.

Different categories of exhibitors and attendees will migrate to other maritime or commercial fishing-focused shows into 2020, such as WorkBoat, the Maine Fishermen’s Forum, and Seafood Expo North America; and many will likely reunite again at next year’s PME in Seattle.

ANOTHER PACIFIC MARINE EXPO LOGGED2021-12-01T21:40:58+00:00
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