by Dave Key, Program Officer - Dockside Monitoring Program, Conservation and Protection Directorate, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) implemented the Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP) in 1991 as a means to efficiently and effectively gather catch data. In doing so, the fisheries resources could be more effectively managed and the stocks conserved so that the fishing industry would be able to prosper in an ongoing sustainable manner.
In order to monitor all landings and collect data on the type and weight of all fish caught, dockside monitoring companies were established to observe offloading of fish and report this information to DFO, ensuring that the various fisheries could be effectively managed and conserved. Today, the Dockside Monitoring Program constitutes one of the primary sources of landing information on which the management of fisheries is based. The fishing industry and the Department are dependent on the accurate verification of landings by the dockside monitoring companies (DMCs).
In order to monitor landings, DMCs must be designated by DFO. DMCs and their employees must comply with and adhere to the requirements of the Fishery (General) Regulations, the DMP Quality System Standard and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Dockside Monitoring Program Policy and Procedures.
DFO hired the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) to assist in the verification of the quality management systems of dockside monitoring companies. When DMCs are found compliant with the DMP Quality Systems Standard, they are listed by the CGSB and audited periodically to ensure that they remain compliant.
To further ensure the integrity of the DMP, DFO fishery officers carry out random field checks of observed offloadings to ensure fishermen, dockside observers, fish buyers and processors are working in a legal manner and are complying with the regulations and policies.
Information received from the DMCs is used by the Statistics Branch of DFO to report on commercial fisheries landings. The Resource Management and Science branches use this information to evaluate the health of the various fish stocks and allocate available quotas to licensed commercial fishermen. This information is essential to ensure the conservation of the fish stocks and a prosperous fishing industry.