The North Pacific Observer Program plays a vital role in the conservation and management of the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, and Gulf of Alaska groundfish and halibut fisheries. The program trains, briefs, debriefs, and oversees over 400 observers annually who collect catch data onboard fishing vessels and at onshore processing plants that is used for in-season management and scientific purposes such as stock assessments and ecosystem studies. The program ensures that the data collected by observers are of the highest quality possible by implementing rigorous quality control and quality assurance processes for the data collected by observers.
The fishery dependent data observers collect are used by the Alaska Regional office for quota monitoring and by NOAA Fisheries scientists for stock assessments, ecosystem investigations, and an array of research investigations. The observer role is vital to sustainable fisheries management.