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FMA Staff Participate in 7th International Fisheries Observer & Monitoring Conference, Viña del Mar, Chile

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The 7th International Fisheries Observer & Monitoring Conference (IFOMC), hosted by the Instituto de Fomento Pesquero, IFOP (Institute for Fisheries Development), was held 8-12 April 2013  in Viña del Mar, Chile. The goal of this 5-day conference was to a) improve fishery monitoring programs worldwide through sharing of practices and development of new methods for data collection and analysis, and b) provide a forum for dialog between those responsible for monitoring fisheries and those who rely upon the data they collect. The conference, which was attended by 150 attendees representing 27 countries, was guided by the motto:  “Scientific Fisheries Observers are the first essential link in fisheries research for sustainable resources management.”

The Fisheries Monitoring and Analysis Division (FMA) submitted six abstracts that were selected as presentations or posters, but due to travel restrictions only four were presented at the conference. Dr. Craig Faunce attended the conference representing our FMA efforts.

The conference included 11 topical panel sessions with a moderator and four to seven panelists. Each panelist gave an oral presentation followed by questions. Following each sessions’ complete panel presentations was a dynamic question and answer period between the audience and panelists. In addition to the verbal presentations, many posters displayed additional information related to each session topic. Three sessions were of particular interest to FMA. These sessions focused on data quality, electronic monitoring, and potential sources of bias in the collection and analysis of scientific data.

Session 1 titled “How to balance cost effectiveness of data quality in fisheries monitoring programs?” explored how monitoring and sampling programs have balanced their budgets without slashing data quality. During this session, Dr. Faunce served as a panelist and presented “A field test of an observer-audit approach to improve catch reporting in Alaska: NPRB Project 1017 Alternative catch monitoring of Alaskan groundfish”- a cooperative research project designed to test whether species composition data collected by observers at shoreside processing plants could be used to gauge the quality of the catch information reported on fish tickets. The project is co-authored by Jennifer Cahalan from the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) and Julie Bonney of the Alaska Groundfish Data Bank. Craig also presented a poster assigned to this session entitled: “The 2013 Alaskan Observer Program by the Numbers, describing the quantities of individual elements that together comprise the most recent effort to ‘restructure’ the North Pacific Groundfish and Pacific Halibut Observer Program. This restructure began in April 2010 and was successfully implemented in January 2013.

Although unable to attend the conference, AFSC scientists Mike Moon from FMA and co-author Duane Stevenson from the AFSC RACE Division provided a poster assigned to Session 1. In this poster, the authors illustrate a Geographical Information System model developed in 2009 providing FMA staff a low-cost and efficient method to automate the detection of species identification outliers.

Dr. Faunce also served on the panel for Session 7 entitled “How to determine and reduce bias in monitoring programs?” Because there can be many potential sources of bias in the collection and analysis of scientific data, this session discussed the main sources of sampling or analysis bias and considered procedures or methodologies that can be employed to minimize them.  Craig, Farron Wallace (FMA), and Jennifer Cahalan co-authored this presentation, which explained how sampling strata, a deployment rate that could be afforded by the program budget, and a comparison of the amount of coverage that would be expected from the new deployment were derived for the 2013 (restructured) Observer Program.

The final book of abstracts and conference program can be found at: Full conference proceedings will be available soon.

By Patti Nelson



By Allison Barns and Patti Nelson

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