Observer Safety

This workshop will focus on defining best practices, training content and safety policies on topics selected by conference registrants. Examples include:

  • Conflict Resolution
  • Harassment
  • Positive mental health and psychological wellbeing
  • Drug/Alcohol Issues

In this workshop we will share experiences and policies among countries and programs. We will identify common challenges, issues, and best practices associated with these topics.

The workshop will be conducted in concurrent sub-groups, where each theme & questions will be discussed for 30 minutes.  At the end of the workshop we’ll give a brief presentation on the most important points discussed from each sub-group.

The final hour will focus on an open discussion to identify best practices and provide recommendations to pursue issues identified in the sub-groups.

Ecosystem and bycatch data

Commercial fisheries around the world frequently use stock assessment methods and monitor catches of target species through both vessel records and observer reported data, to ensure sustainable harvesting and allocation of catches. However, the adverse impacts of bottom fishing on marine ecosystems are widely recognised and is an issue that occurs in domestic fisheries and, increasingly, in fisheries that operate in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

The global concern about the adverse effects of bottom fisheries has placed the issue on the agenda of the United Nations Open-Ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (UNICPOLOS).

Many UNICPOLOS recommendations have been endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in a series of resolutions aimed at addressing the impacts of bottom fishing activities. As a consequence, both RFMOs and national fisheries are adopting monitoring programmes to measure the impact of fisheries on associated species through by-catch or incidental mortality.

This workshop will present a series of case studies looking at how ecosystem and bycatch data monitoring programmes have been implemented, and provide examples of how bycatch data have been used to develop fishery regulations.

Electronic Monitoring

Electronic Monitoring (EM) refers to an integrated array of sensors, usually including still or video imagery, deployed on fishing vessels for the purposes of providing independent, verifiable fisheries information.

There is growing interest to deploy EM technologies in commercial fisheries where its efficacy, operational feasibility, and cost effectiveness can be demonstrated. There are few operational monitoring programs and EM is relatively new as practitioners are gaining experience with how best to implement EM for fisheries science and management.

Unlike human-based monitoring, EM has more technological and operational complexity, as well as stronger dependencies on various stakeholders. Moreover, technology is advancing rapidly and there are diverse views on what direction, and how quickly, EM will advance.

EM technologies have been a consistent conference theme for IFOMC since 2004 but presented mostly as plenary sessions.

The organizers for this conference decided to include an EM workshop session in addition to the dedicated plenary session on operationalizing EM. Indeed, EM was a frequent topic of discussion in many of the plenary sessions although the workshop was structured to facilitate more focused small group discussions, guided by challenge topics provided by workshop facilitators. Attendance at the workshop involved about 140 conference delegates from 27 countries.

The workshop involved two discussion sessions held over a six-hour period. Each session included brief introduction to the topic, small group discussion, and summary remarks by delegates to the larger group. Workshop objectives were:

  • Build a shared understanding of the current state of EM technology
  • Discuss use cases to identify successes and challenges of EM technology
  • Expand networks among participants
  • Help participants visualize use cases for EM in the fisheries they work with
  • Help participants gain a better understanding of the functional elements of an EM program

Funding Observer Programmes

The creation of comprehensive, high quality information systems for fisheries have long term benefits and are highly valued but they do come at a cost, particularly when there is a need for independent monitoring with EM or observers.

The costs are often shared by multiple entities and can have a direct impact on fishing behavior. Increasingly, industry is being asked to foot the bill for these information systems, following the principle that users who benefit from the resource should help pay for the cost of the data needed to support resource management.

Regulatory agencies, who represent the public interest of these common property resources, increasingly  seek to cost recover these programs from industry and private sector companies are engaged to carry out the monitoring functions.

This triad - requirements specifier (agency), payer for the service (industry), and provider of the service (private monitoring companies) – sets in play an unusual dynamic when it comes to considering questions like:

  • What are the drivers in deciding appropriate approaches to monitor a fishery?
  • What are the best practices for scoping monitoring programs and their costs?
  • What can industry afford to pay, both in direct and soft costs (or what is a reasonable amount to recover from industry)?
  • What is the best method for cost recovery and to pay for services?
  • What strategies can be used to ensure best value and manage costs?
  • Are there strategies that can be used to create a market for fishery data, thereby providing funds to offset monitoring costs?

This workshop will present a few different fisheries as case studies, then putting challenge questions for small group discussion.  The goal of the workshop is to share knowledge and experiences among participants, hopefully to build a set of best practices.