|3. What type of work do fishery observers perform?|
Fishery observers monitor and record catch data commercial fishing activity from US vessels and processing facilities. When observing, most observers are at sea. Processing facilities may be on shore, but many are large factory vessels. The data is used to supplement research and aid in the management of US living marine resources. The observers may collect data on species composition of the catch, weights of fish caught, disposition of landed species and protected species interactions. Though most observer programs cover commercial fishing activities, not all do. Some observers in the Gulf of Mexico monitor the removal of oil drilling platforms and off Florida's East coast, observers monitor beach nourishment dredging.
Much of the data collected by observers are fish lengths, weights and aging structures. Observers working on processing vessels can often collect stomach content data that would be otherwise difficult to collect. Fishing positions and fishing effort are important data for managing fisheries. In some fisheries, observers provide valuable assistance to researchers with tagging projects involving sharks, tunas, sablefish, spiny lobsters, swordfish, and even some species of sea turtles. Observer programs often are responsible for collecting the largest part of fisheries management data.
The first hand information supplied by observers to NOAA Fisheries on protected species interactions with fishing activities provides excellent information to help sustain and rebuild some populations of protected species.