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Northeast Industry-Funded Scallop Observers

Observers play a vital role in the management of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Atlantic sea scallop fishery.

Observer measuring scallop shells, measuring board, and orange basket.

Industry-Funded Scallop (IFS) observers collect data from fishing trips targeting Atlantic sea scallop, primarily using dredge gear. All federal scallop fishery permit holders are required to participate in the IFS program under the authority of the New England Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries, as specified by the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan.

Vessels that carry an observer receive compensation through a set-aside program. Each year, one percent of the annual catch limit is set aside to help vessels pay for the cost of observers. Limited Access vessels receive either additional pounds in access areas or Days-at-Sea (DAS) in open areas, and Limited Access General Category Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) vessels receive additional pounds attributed to their IFQ allocations.

Prior to taking a trip, scallop vessels will notify via the Pre-Trip Notification System (PTNS) to declare their intent to fish. The PTNS determines whether the vessel is selected for observer coverage and sends an automatic notification. If selected, the vessel should contact the IFS observer provider listed in the email to set up trip logistics.

IFS observers collect catch, gear, fishing effort, and biological data on sea scallop trips from Maine to North Carolina. In addition, they also record interactions with marine mammals, sea turtles, sea birds, or other protected species. This information is critical for stock assessments and management of all species associated with the sea scallop fishery.

Approved Scallop Observer Provider Companies

Independent third-party monitoring of at-sea catch is required under existing fishery regulations. To become an approved sea scallop observer provider please refer to Code of Federal Regulations, §648.11— At-sea sea sampler/observer coverage.

If you want to become an observer, contact one of our approved providers.

Reports and System Changes

Last updated by Northeast Fisheries Science Center on April 23, 2024