Observer Program Mandate and Authority
Mission of the program
To characterize shrimp trawl bycatch and evaluate various gear types for the reduction of bycatch
Authority to place observers
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Endangered Species Act.
Voluntary or mandatory
Annual program costs
Penaeid shrimp (brown, white and pink).
Other commercially landed species
Finfish bycatch includes red snapper, groundfish, with Atlantic croaker and longspine porgy being the dominant species both in number and by weight for the Gulf of Mexico.
One Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, one manatee, and 411 sea turtles since 1992.
Area of operation
Gulf of Mexico - Texas to North Carolina
Approximately 6,000 USCG documented vessels and an unknown number of state registered boats.
Size range of vessels
Annual catch of target species
Number of fishing days per year
250,000 (24-hour days fished).
Season of operation
Year around; highest effort from May through December.
Observer Program Management
Brief overview of program structure
Individuals contracted and supervised by either NOAA Fisheries or the Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation. Vessels are located through Sea Grant agents, NOAA Fisheries port agents, Foundation contacts and fishery associations. Each observer group (i.e., NOAA Fisheries or Foundation) is responsible to get observer to port of departure.
Other participating agencies
Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation
Number of observers
Observers employed by
Johnson Controls, Inc.
Average deployment length
Average observer retention rate
Average number of fishing days
Unit and definition of fishing effort for purpose of estimating coverage
A fishing day is the unit of effort.
Percent observer coverage