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New FMA Division Assumes Role of Observer Program

photo of a full codend of fish dumbed into the hold of a catcher-processor

A full codend of fish is dumped into the hold of a catcher-processor. Catches of catcher-processors in the North Pacific groundfish fishery are closely monitored by NMFS-certified  observers.  These observers provide NMFS information to support sound fisheries management.

The North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program is the largest fisheries observer program in the United States. Funded largely by industry, the Program deploys approximately 400 observers who spend roughly 36,000 days at sea each year to collect data for use by the National Marine Fisheries Service in managing the Alaska groundfish fishery. The Alaska groundfish fishery is recognized as one of the best managed fisheries in the United States.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council cites an effective monitoring system, with the Observer Program at the core, as the key to successful management of the Alaska groundfish fishery. Indicative of the Programís success and importance to its many constituents is the Alaska Fisheries Science Centerís formation of the new Fisheries Monitoring and Analysis Division with the Observer Program as its foundation. The following article traces the evolution of the Program and considers the future of this vital component of the North Pacific fisheries management infrastructure.

 

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