Fishery Observer Training

Poor regulations, lack of enforcement, and exploitation by foreign governments with large distant water fleets have resulted in declining marine stocks in many regions of the world and West Africa is no exception. Even if fish stocks are healthy, the marriage of stock assessments and fisheries management typically does not occurred in West Africa. The fisheries research arm of the government has little or no connection to the fisheries management group that issues fisheries permits but does not monitor or provide information on the removals of fish.   

In West Africa, fish or seafood products provide an estimated 60-70% of the nation’s protein supply. The result of depleted resources can have a profound effects on developing nations particularly those that are starting to recover from civil war (Sierra Leone, Liberia) and destabilize nations undergoing transition (Guinea, Gabon,) in their governments. 

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing has flourished throughout the world as rouge vessels attempt to supply increasing seafood demand from developed nations. By its very nature accurate information on the scale and impact of IUU fishing is difficult to obtain. However it is estimated that between 10 and 23.5 billion US dollars occurs in IUU catches each year. The nation’s most hurt by these activities are often the country’s that require the most assistance. The loss in revenue, loss of  employment and loss of food source from IUU fishing are significant impacts to nation’s that can least afford it.

To combat IUU and provide sound fisheries management for sustainable harvest, NOAA is focusing funding to provide capacity building assistance to the nations of West Africa. International, regional, and national fisheries management and scientific institutions have identified the lack of fisheries and enforcement data as one of their primary limitations in developing and implementing sustainable fisheries practices. Well designed and well implemented observer programs offer international bodies and national agencies the opportunity to collect critical data on target and bycatch species; gear and economic information; and assist with data gathering on IUU and enforcement related matters. Alternatives to at sea observers are very limited and usually do not provide the quality or the suite of robust information gathered by observers necessary to adequately manage the world’s fisheries.

NOAA has identified improving data collection and reporting as a critical objective for the United States, and we have undertaken a wide variety of initiatives to improve these tasks, such as observer training programs.


Bycatch Reduction Gear Engineering (SEFSC)
Turtle Excluder Devices (TED), Bycatch Reduction Devics (BRDs), circle hooks, weak hooks, etc.