The 5th International Fisheries Observer Conference in Victoria, BC, included three special sessions to present the work of three observer working groups -- Training, Safety, and Professionalism. Additionally, mapping of observer programs around the world was initiated. The Portland Conference will continue the efforts of the working groups to develop resources and guidance for observer programs worldwide to address these critical issues.
The Global Map of Fisheries Observer & Monitoring Programs is an ongoing effort to identify and map fisheries data collection programs worldwide. The goals of this collaborative effort are to catalogue the collection of basic information on marine resource management around the globe, serve as an information resource on existing programs, a collaboration tool for fisheries managers interested in identifying existing programs with fishing gear and data collection goals similar to their own, and highlight areas of overlapping coverage where jurisdictional boundaries may need to be clarified.
The Training Working Group is about sharing expertise internationally through identification of common training elements, recruitment and training standards, and training resources. The group seeks to establish a network of observer training and subject experts that can aide the availability of training curricula and resources found across international observer programs. The training work group page includes training resources links to international observer programs and scientific resources.
The Safety Working Group is dedicated to establishing processes for the sharing of resources that include; safety training resources, safety equipment, safety training guidelines, and information about accidents and close calls. It also works to identify common safety issues and provide suggestions for solutions that include links to other maritime organizations involved with the safety of workers at sea.
The primary focus of the Professionalism Working Group is to investigate and categorize the international working knowledge of observer employment practices in order to outline principles that may foster the professional development of fisheries observers; whilst working to ensure and strengthen the scientific and technical integrity of the fisheries observer profession and observer programs. It is made up of four committees that address social equity, support and opportunities, employment standards, and wages and benefits.