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Item Identification

Title: Pelagic Longline Observer Program
Short Name: Pelagic Longline Observer Program
Status: In Work

This data set contains data that are collected by trained observers aboard pelagic longline vessels in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. The fishery observers are deployed to collect catch and effort data and record information on the types and numbers of fish that are discarded and interactions with marine mammals or endangered species.

Vessels that have Federal permits to fish for swordfish are required to take a fishery observer onboard for the duration of a trip if the vessel is selected. The data that are submitted to the mandatory pelagic longline logbook program are used as the population from which the vessels are randomly selected. A 5 to 8 percent sample of vessels is selected to carry an observer for at least one trip during a calendar quarter.


The primary purposes of the observer program is to collect detailed data on the catches and associated effort for trips made by pelagic longline vessels that fish for swordfish in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. A secondary purpose is to collected objective data on the species and amounts of fish that are discarded during the trip.


Theme Keywords

Thesaurus Keyword
None Dolphin
None Gear
None Marlin
None Observer
None Pelagic Fisheries
None Protected Species
None Swordfish
None Tuna
None Turtles
None Wahoo

Temporal Keywords

Thesaurus Keyword
None 1992-present

Spatial Keywords

Thesaurus Keyword
None Atlantic Ocean
None Carribean
None Gulf of Mexico

Stratum Keywords

Thesaurus Keyword
None area
None latitude
None location
None longitude
None species

Physical Location

Organization: Southeast Fisheries Science Center
City: Miami
State/Province: FL
Country: USA

Project Information

Project Type: Program
Is Mandated?: Yes
Mandated By: MMPA, ESA
Collection Type: Observer
Collection Authority: Federal
Collection Method: Electronic and Paper

Support Roles

Point of Contact

CC ID: 3380
Date Effective From: 2006-01-01
Date Effective To:
Contact (Person): Beerkircher, Larry
Address: 75 Virginia Beach Drive
Miami, FL 33149
Email Address:
Phone: 305-361-4290
Contact Instructions:

Phone or email

View Historical Support Roles


Extent Group 1

Extent Group 1 / Geographic Area 1

CC ID: 3379
W° Bound: -96
E° Bound: -37
N° Bound: 51
S° Bound: 1


Extent Group 1 / Time Frame 1

CC ID: 3378
Time Frame Type: Continuing
Start: 1992-01-01

Access Information

Security Class: Confidential
Data Access Policy:

Contact Data steward

Data Access Procedure:

Read and sign for NOAA Administrative Order 216-100

Read and sign System Access Application (see URLs)

Contact DBA Daniel Leon for userid/password.

Data Access Constraints:

Access is restricted to personnel authorized in accordance with NOAA Administrative Order 216-100. A signed non-disclosure agreement must be on file for all authorized personnel.

Data Use Constraints:

Please cite data.

Please be cognizant of meta data

Metadata Access Constraints:


Metadata Use Constraints:




CC ID: 44253

Homepage Of Pelagic Observer Program

Technical Environment


Data In Oracle Tables

Data Quality


POPOL data are likely representative of the fleet?s catch and effort characteristics, although some ?observer effect? (vessels altering fishing practices when an observer is on board) is possible. Vessels are randomly selected and come from the full range of temporal and spatial strata that the fleet operates in, in the full range of vessel sizes. Observer coverage in years prior to 2007 was approximately 4-5%; from 2007 onward observer coverage rates are above 8% annually. There are no known quantitative analyses of the representativeness of this data set.


Nothing is known about the degree of agreement between individual measurements in the POPOL data set and the true measurements, as the observer colleting the data is the sole source of the information and it cannot be cross checked with alternate sources.

Analytical Accuracy:

The accuracy of analytical results to the ?true? values cannot be determined as the true values cannot be calculated without 100 % observer coverage and multiple observers on each vessel. Neither situation has ever occurred during collection of POPOL data.

Quantitation Limits:

The POPOL data system is a relatively complex collection system devised to collect a large amount of variables for use in many different types of analyses rather than a single purpose system designed to estimate or produce one set of values. Further, the quantitative limits for many values would be dependent on the frequency of the observations, which is highly species dependent


There have been no quantitative studies to detect potential bias in POPOL


There are few comparable data sets to POPOL; where they exist no quantitative analyses have been done to compare the sets.

Completeness Measure:

All vessel hauls are planned to be observed during an observer deployment. Prior to 2006, data on the number unobserved hauls occurring was not collected; however since that time the number of unobserved hauls is less than 1% of the planned total hauls. Data on the number of values that are not collected during individual deployments are not systematically kept.


There have been no quantitative studies to determine the precision of observations in POPOL. Since the ?instrument? used to quantify the variable is generally the human observer themselves, measures of precision would require the same observer to record a variable, of known property, multiple times under the exact same conditions. Such studies are not practical

Analytical Precision:

No information Available

Field Precision:

No information available


Since the ?instrument? used to quantify the variables is generally the human observer themselves, sensitivity largely relies on the ability of the individual observer to see small variations in conditions, morphology, lengths, etc. No analyses of this characteristic have been conducted for this data collection system specifically or for fisheries observation systems in general.

Detection Limit:

Not applicable. Variables collected in the POPOL system where specifically chosen such that they could be consistently and reliably determined by the human observer themselves.

Completeness Report:

Information on the types of data, specific variables, and coverage rates can be found at


BWFA Blue Water Fishermen's Association
NED North East Distant high seas of the Western Atlantic Ocean, in an area off New Foundland known as the Grand Banks.
POP Pelagic Observer Program
RRA Russell Research Associates, Inc.



CC ID: 43728
Date: 2008-01-20 01:00:00
Author: Larry Beerkircher

What is Experimental Data


Overview of experimental data in the Pelagic Observer Program on line (POPOL) data system.

Experiments using different gear techniques conducted on board on board commercial pelagic longline vessels have been monitored by POP observers starting in 2001. Because the data needs for these experiments were very much the same as normal POP data collection, experimental data was collected and stored in the POPOL system. Sets/hauls that are marked ?Y? in the IS_EXPERIMENT field of the POPONLINE.POP_HAUL_LOG table, and all animal log records from the POPONLINE.POP_ANIMAL_LOG_EXP table, represent observations from experimental fishing operations and therefore may not be representative of usual fishing operations.

Experiments in the NED statistical area during 2001-2003 examined hook type, bait type, and hook spacing (some other factors were considered) in order to examine fishing method that would mitigate the capture of sea turtles while retaining enough target catch for the fishery to remain viable. In 2004, a small experiment examined the use of small vs large circle hooks in the GOM statistical area to determine the impact of hook size on target catch. A larger experiment in 2005, conducted both north and south of Cape Hatteras, as well as in the GOM, examined the effect of hook offset and baiting technique on target and bycatch species. A series of experiments 2008-2010 conducted in the GOM during late spring tested the effect of weak tensile strength hooks on Bluefin tuna bycatch and target catch. Experiments in 2008-2010 compared catch and bycatch inside the FEC and SAB closed areas with results outside the closed areas. Finally, in 2010 and 2011 in the MAB, FEC, and SAB, experiments were conducted to examine the effect of commercially available hooks with varying tensile strength on catch and bycatch.

This overview is complete as of July 2011. Specific questions regarding experimental protocols, or updates regarding experimental data in the POPOL system after July 2011, may be addressed to Ken Keene, POP coordinator, at

Catalog Details

Catalog Item ID: 1935
GUID: gov.noaa.nmfs.inport:1935
Metadata Record Created By: Lee M Weinberger
Metadata Record Created: 2006-06-13 16:21+0000
Metadata Record Last Modified By: SysAdmin InPortAdmin
Metadata Record Last Modified: 2022-08-09 17:10+0000
Metadata Record Published: 2021-05-06
Owner Org: SEFSC
Metadata Publication Status: Published Externally
Do Not Publish?: N
Metadata Last Review Date: 2021-05-06
Metadata Review Frequency: 1 Year
Metadata Next Review Date: 2022-05-06