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