NOAA Front and Center at International Fisheries Observer Conference

August 23, 2018

NOAA participates in the 9th International Fisheries Observer and Monitoring Conference in Vigo, Spain.

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More than 280 participants representing more than 39 countries attended the  9th International Fisheries Observer and Monitoring Conference  this past June in Vigo, Spain. NOAA Fisheries leadership, Observer Program staff from across the country, and fisheries observers attended on behalf of the United States. U.S. participation in this international conference is important, as emphasized by Sam Rauch, the agency's Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs: "The IFOMC is critical in exploring how different countries deal with fisheries monitoring and observing, and sharing experiences to ensure best practices worldwide."

While participating in the first panel of the conference, titled Why Monitor Fisheries and What to Monitor, Rauch highlighted the value of domestic fisheries and the important role observers play in sustainability of U.S. fisheries. "Fishing is an important industry in the United States, worth over $200 billion in sales and supporting over 1.5 million jobs. Observers collect essential biological data to ensure that our fisheries are sustainably managed for the long term," he said. Rauch was on the panel with representatives from Chile, South Africa, Portugal, Solomon Islands, and Canada.   

Panels and Posters

During the 4-day conference, oral presentation panels covered both human observing and

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electronic monitoring, data analysis, technology, and observer experiences. Each panel session was followed by a 45-minute question-and-answer session that fostered further dialogue.

The interactive evening poster session featured 96 presentations that complemented the panel sessions. A panel of judges scored each of the poster presentations. First place was awarded to Daroomalingum Mauree and Jeromine Kompe Fanjanirina from the Indian Ocean Commission, who focused on the Regional Scientific Observer Programme in the South West Indian Ocean. Second place was awarded to Bobbie M. Buzzell, who focused on her experiences as an observer in the North Pacific Observer Program. Third place was awarded to NOAA Special Agent Jaclyn Smith from the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement's Anchorage office for her poster on observer safety and harassment in Alaskan fisheries.

Safety Is a Priority

The third day of the conference featured three workshops on the European Union Landing

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Obligation, Electronic Monitoring, and Safety. The safety workshop led by fishery observer safety expert Kim Dietrich, Ken Keene of the Northeast Fishery Observer Program, Jenna Rockwell of Fathom Resources LLC, and John La Fargue of the West Coast Regional Observer Program focused on conflict resolution, harassment, mental health/physiological well-being, and drug and alcohol issues. This workshop was designed to create a comprehensive list of best practices for each of the four topics to help sustain a long-term safety vision for observers. Participants were pleased with the emphasis on safety. "It's been very rewarding to see observer safety brought to the forefront at the IFOMC. We have seen a continual increase in the number of higher quality abstracts submitted for the safety panel as well as more participation and support for safety workshops and demos," said LaFargue.

More to Come

Because IFOMC attendees expressed interest in a U.S.-based fishery observing and monitoring conference, the National Observer Program is planning to organize a symposium at the 2019 American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting in Reno, Nevada. The next IFOMC meeting will be hosted by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources in Tasmania in early 2021.

Last updated by Office of Science and Technology on October 12, 2018