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Major Refresh Orients Northeast Fishery Monitoring and Research Division Toward the Future

January 27, 2021

Integration, modernization will improve operations and interactions with the fishing industry.

Observer wearing blue insulated work gloves lays a flounder flat on a wooden surface for sampling aboard a commercial fishing vessel.

Staff involved with cooperative research and fishery monitoring at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center interact daily with the fishing industry. It’s a challenging job, and an essential one: scientists and fishermen working together in areas of mutual interest improves fisheries science and management. 

It’s little wonder that managing the many moving parts of this effort requires constant assessment and adaptation. The most recent effort is a major one that has resulted in a new internal structure to improve operations and maximize resources. 

The ultimate goal is to ensure accurate representation of fishing activity.

“Improving integration of our efforts, modernizing our systems, and making the data we collect even more useful will enable us to have increased confidence in our science, take some of the burden off the industry, and make it easier for fishermen to access information,” said Amanda McCarty, chief of the center’s Fishery Monitoring and Research Division, which includes the fishery monitoring and cooperative research efforts. 

Four Branches, Each with a Strategic Focus

The new organizational structure for this division facilitates collaboration and encourages accountability within the division. Four organizational groups, rather than two, are now responsible for: 

  • Fisheries observer program
  • Fisheries observer training and trip data
  • Data and information systems management and development
  • Cooperative research

Two special projects teams—one for the Research Set-Aside Program and another for dockside monitoring—and an administrative team round out the division’s operations.

“Aligning structures and strategies, matching employee strengths with organizational needs, and improving the flow of information will make us a more effective and efficient team,” said McCarty.

The Fishery Monitoring Operations Branch is helmed by Katherine McArdle, a long-time staffer in the division.

The Training and Data Quality Branch is new, as is branch chief Ryan Shama. The branch supports fishery-dependent data collection efforts through effective training and data quality processes. "Our dedicated staff work hard to adapt training techniques and opportunities to fit the evolving needs of the fishery and to ensure the accuracy of the data we report," said Shama.  

Mike Palmer, chief of the new Data and Information System Branch comes into the position after a long stint as a stock assessment analyst at the science center. "Our branch vision is to improve fisheries data through integration, modernization, efficiency, and accountability,” said Palmer. “Our approach will be to bring analytics, data science, and business analysis into the data management and processing conversation."

Anna Mercer has been leading the Cooperative Research Branch since April 2019. "We specialize in working with members of the fishing industry to develop, implement, and apply research to support fisheries management,” said Mercer. "The raw passion and unique insight of our research partners inspire me and everyone in the branch. We continually strive to develop research to address the ever-changing needs and priorities across the region."

A Reorganization Built Through Community

McCarty noted that this change in organizational structure has been under discussion for several years. It is based in part on recommendations from the observer and cooperative research program reviews that involved internal and external participants. Many of those recommendations are still being implemented. 

“This realignment gives the staff more support and sustainable workloads, and creates a cohesive working environment and focus on our shared mission,” said McCarty. “It makes us a stronger team going forward as we strive to be a trusted presence among the fishing, scientific and management communities.”

The new structure was created to improve management of the current workflow and the growing list of monitoring and data integration mandates. “We are still doing what we were doing before,” said Amy Martins, deputy chief of the division. “We are just going to do it better, and be able to expand and grow into the expectations that people have of us.” 

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Last updated by Northeast Fisheries Science Center on July 19, 2024