NOAA strongly believes in the health, safety, and security of fisheries observers and at-sea monitors who work for the agency as its eyes and ears on the water in many ocean fisheries here and overseas. Observers are professionally-trained technicians who work alongside fishermen in stressful, strenuous, and many times dangerous conditions. To ensure observers have safe and healthy working environments, NOAA Fisheries voluntarily started and completed a two-year, comprehensive Observer Program Safety Review to examine existing factors facing observers and at-sea monitors.
That review included an independent audit of current policies and protocols and the final report is now complete. The review found national and regional observer safety programs in the United States to be robust, mature, and effective. The report also makes recommendations in seven areas: safety reporting; communications; practices and policies; training; regulations; equipment; and international observers.
The agency is currently developing an action plan based on the review as the first step to implementing many of the recommendations. The agency will post online progress reports that track the implementation of recommendations as they happen and every six months following the biannual National Observer Program Advisory Team meeting in October 2018. Click here to download the full report.