The Queensland Government is now in caretaker mode until after the state election. Minimal updates will be made to this site until after the election results are declared.

Skip links and keyboard navigation

Electronic, automated monitoring of commercial fishing operations in Queensland

Nominated by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Challenge statement

The challenge is to provide an affordable automated electronic monitoring system that will record all information required of commercial trawl, net and crab fishing operations (taking into account different sized vessels), and submit this to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) in real or near real time.

Applications to solve this challenge closed at 2pm (AEST) 26 September 2017.


If you are interested in collaborating to address this challenge, you may wish to review or register for inclusion on the list of organisations seeking partners.

Challenge imperative

The Queensland Government is committed to ensuring fisheries resources are managed in a sustainable and responsible manner that recognises the interests of all Queenslanders.

In June 2017, the Queensland Government released the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027, paving the way for Queensland to have a world-class fisheries management system. 

The Sustainable Fisheries Strategy is the biggest fisheries reform in Queensland’s history. 

These reforms will ensure healthy fish stocks that will support thousands of Queensland jobs.

The strategy is the outcome of a significant consultation exercise in 2016, during which the Queensland Government sought views from everyone in the community about where we are now, where we want to be, and how we can get there. We received more than 11,800 submissions. The overwhelming message was that all stakeholders wanted reform in the way we manage fisheries.

The strategy outlines 33 actions to be delivered across 10 reform areas and sets targets to be achieved by 2020 and 2027.

To support the reforms, the government is investing more than $20 million over three years.

This will deliver a boost to compliance (including 20 more frontline compliance officers), more monitoring, better engagement and communication and more responsive decision-making.

Some of the actions in the strategy include things like harvest strategies for each fishery, satellite tracking on all commercial fishing boats, regionally specific fishing rules and using new technologies more effectively.

Additionally, the Reef 2050 Plan identifies an explicit action to enhance compliance with zoning plans, fish habitat area provisions and other regulations through improved enforcement, and adoption of new technologies such as tracking systems on vessels in the Great Barrier Reef.

Challenge context

The stakeholders involved

The Challenge Owner is the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF).

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority also has a direct interest in improving the sustainable operation of commercial fishing within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The Authority is interested in vessel tracking to further improve compliance with the marine park zoning plan (e.g. green zones where fishing is not permitted). 

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority is also interested in commercial fishing vessel operations from a marine safety, and search and rescue perspective, and would be interested in a solution that also meets the existing AIS requirements of other commercial vessels.

The end user of a solution to this challenge will be commercial trawl, net and crab fishers in Queensland.

The current situation

DAF uses information collected from commercial fishing operations to make decisions about management of fisheries resources. Currently in Queensland, information is provided by commercial fishers through a range of mandatory reporting requirements including:

  • paper and (to a limited extent) electronic logbooks
  • phone reporting for quota (through an automated voice recognition system)
  • satellite tracking equipment (for larger vessels like trawlers).

The reporting is costly and time consuming for fishers, prone to intentional and unintentional misreporting, reliant on often unreliable equipment and causes significant delays in the delivery of information for decision making.

Current technology offers only a partial solution. For example:

  • vessel monitoring systems are only on large trawl vessels, but aren’t small or robust enough for smaller inshore vessels (or to track gear such as crab pots or nets)
  • e-logbooks are available for the line and trawl fisheries, but with low uptake (and they need to be manually entered into on-board computers)
  • in some other jurisdictions, fixed cameras or videos are installed on boats, but the footage (or a subsample) has to be watched and analysed by staff.

A complete solution suitable for small commercial vessels does not currently exist anywhere in the world that collects all of the necessary data (other than location and sensing gear deployment and retrieval) independently of the fisher, and that automatically submits this to the department in real or near real time.

Solution design parameters

The successful application will deliver a set of technology solutions (e.g. tracking systems, sensors, robotic vision, species recognition and/or electronic monitoring) that can be packaged together into one or more products to make it easier for fishers, improve accuracy and provide data to enable DAF to make robust fishery management decisions to ensure the ecological sustainability of Queensland’s fish stocks.

There are currently 1370 registered commercial fishing operations in Queensland (around 3500 boats including all tenders). The potential solution should focus on trawl (411 fishers), net (440 fishers) and crab (586 fishers). These figures represent the maximum number of operators based on fishing symbols held.

Technical considerations

The successful solution will need to demonstrate an ability to deliver the following technical requirements:

  • Be tamperproof and waterproof.
  • Be portable or movable if fishers change vessels.
  • Be suitable for commercial fishing vessels of any size
  • Be affordable in terms of installation costs, polling costs (to transfer data) and maintenance costs.
  • Provide information in a format compatible with vessel monitoring system platforms on the market or in an approved XML format.
  • Have the capacity to transmit data in near real time at intervals configurable over the network or according to geo-fencing rules (i.e. notifications on vessels moving into closed areas).
  • Have internal battery capacity and be can operate for extended period with external power disconnected.
  • Operate 24/7.

Design benefits

The successful solution will need to demonstrate an ability to deliver the following key benefits:

  • Provide information equivalent to existing logbook information (refer to Table 1) in real time (strongly preferred) or near real time, including:
    • location to improve compliance with fisheries and marine park legislation.
    • fishing effort (i.e. where and for how long)
    • fishing catch (including bycatch and protected species interactions) to improve fisheries management decision-making and compliance with fisheries and marine park legislation.
  • Provide an automated and affordable system that reduces the time fishers need to spend filling out information but still provide accurate information.
  • Improved confidence in the accuracy of the information collected on fishing operations.
  • Provide a mechanism to monitor commercial fishing operations independently of the fisher.
  • Eliminate costly, outdated and time consuming data reporting obligations and systems.
  • Facilitate timely validation of data required for the management of catch and effort quota managed fisheries.

Potential secondary benefits that a solution may deliver include:

  • A next generation vessel monitoring system that can be rolled out across all commercial fishing boats by 2020.  An interim solution will need to be rolled out before the end of 2018 for net, crab and line boats (and may or may not be part of this challenge depending on timing and ability to release products to market).
  • Provide vessel location data to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and Queensland Police Service (QPS) in the event of a sea search and rescue.  

Table 1 – Datasets required for trawl, net and crab fishers

  Trawl Net Crab
Boat Mark * yes yes yes
Commercial Fishers Name * yes yes yes
Commercial Fisher Licence Number * yes yes yes
Extended period not fishing * yes yes yes
Port departing from * yes    
Date yes yes yes
Location yes yes yes
Fishing activity (Fishing/not fishing/steaming/searching) yes yes yes
Number of pots/dillies     yes
Number of pot lifts     yes
Set time     yes
Last lift     yes
Trawl Gear * yes    
Time Shot Away yes    
Number of shots yes    
Total Hours Trawled yes    
Species Targeted yes yes  
Prior Number yes   yes
Mesh Size (mm)   yes  
Total Net Length (m)   yes  
Place net set (foreshore, river, offshore)   yes  
Soak Time   yes  
Depth (metre) yes yes  
Mesh Drop (Number of mesh)   yes  
Dropper Length (m)   yes  
Species name or species group yes yes yes
Weight yes yes yes
Number yes yes yes
Product form yes yes  

* Denotes fields that do not change during a fishing trip.

Commercial opportunities

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program aims to provide commercial opportunities for applicants, while at the same time, solving Queensland Government challenges via an innovative procurement process.

Successful applicants will receive funding to research, develop and test their idea. At the end of the process, applicants have the potential to secure a contract with the Queensland Government. Additionally, intellectual property developed within the SBIR is retained by the party who developed it, allowing applicants the potential to access broader commercial opportunities.

In addition to immediate opportunities for selected applicants, any successful solution has the potential for use in other Australian and international jurisdictions.

Additional information

The following additional information has been provided:

How will applications be assessed?

Applications to this challenge will be assessed by an evaluation panel assembled by the DAF in accordance with all relevant Queensland Government Procurement policies.

Applications will be assessed against the following criteria:

  1. Addresses the challenge (Weighting: 35%)
    1. How well does the proposed solution address the design parameters (technical considerations and design benefits) identified in the challenge statement?
    2. How innovative is the proposed solution – new to market, or novel application of existing technology?
    3. How feasible is the proposed solution when scaled to address the challenge statement?
  2. Capability to deliver (Weighting: 25%)
    1. Does the applicant have the experience, skills and capacity to deliver the solution?
    2. Does the applicant have access to any necessary intellectual property?
    3. How viable is the development and supply of the proposed solution within the timeframes of the SBIR?
  3. Commercial potential (Weighting: 15%)
    1. How viable is the identified route to commercialise the proposed solution?
    2. Does the solution appear financially and commercially viable?
  4. Fair market value (Weighting: 15%)
    1. To what extent do the proposed development costs represent fair market value?
  5. Broader benefits for Queensland (Weighting: 10%)
    1. To what extent does the proposed solution offer broader benefits for Queensland?
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia (CC BY-ND 3.0)
Last updated
25 September, 2017

Call us

13 QGOV (13 74 68)

Page feedback

  1. How satisfied are you with your experience today? *
Scroll to top