The Fisheries Sampling Branch (FSB) manages the Northeast Fisheries Observer Program (NEFOP) and the At-Sea Monitoring Program (ASM) which collects, processes and manages data and biological samples obtained during commercial fishing trips. These data are collected by trained fishery observers for scientific and fisheries management purposes.
Observed trips are required under many of the region's fishery management plans, and for some fisheries by other federal laws and authorities such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and the Sustainable Fisheries Act.
Fisheries Observers Make a Difference!
If you are interested in becoming an observer, certain qualifications must be met, and you must go through training. To find out more about what observers do, see articles, "Meet a Fisheries Observer with a Passion for Her Work" and "A Fisheries Observer's Tale." Observers are hired as federal contractors through one of the approved providers; please contact them directly for employment opportunities. The International Fisheries Observer and Monitoring Conference (IFOMC) develops, promotes, and enhances effective fishery monitoring programs to ensure sustainable resource management throughout the world's oceans. Their mission is to improve fishery monitoring and observing programs worldwide through sharing practices and development of data collection and analysis. Be sure to check out our FAQ page. Learn more about the Northeast Fisheries Observer Program >>
TIES THAT BIND: Observing Northeast Fisheries from Cognitive Dissonante Studios is a 4-part documentary that explores the nature of fisheries, science, and resource management by coming to know a few of the personalities behind the process. Watch on Vimeo >>
Want to Make A Difference? A glimpse into the training of an observer and the program's purpose.
Approved Observer Providers
The Northeast Fisheries Observer Program (NEFOP) is a multi-year (usually five years) contract currently awarded to a single provider:
The Industry Funded At-Sea Monitoring Program (ASM) has providers that are approved by NMFS if they meet certain standards, and include:
The Industry Funded Scallop Observer Program (IFS) has providers that are approved by NMFS if they meet certain standards, and include:
Observer Regulations and Mandates
- Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA)
- At-Sea Sampler/Observer Coverage - Oct 2008
- Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA)
- Marine Mammal Authorization Program (MMAP) Requirements
- Information on the Annual List of Fisheries - 2015
- Endangered Species Act (ESA)
- Observer Requirement for Fisheries under ESA - Aug 2007
- Standardized Bycatch Reporting
- Industry Funded Scallop Framework - Jun 2007
- Observer Health and Safety Regulations - Nov 2007
- Sustainable Fisheries Act - Oct 1996
- NE Fisheries Regulations
- USCG Safety Examiners Contact List for Fishermen - May 2015
- Observer Harassment Warning
- NEFOP Selection Letter - Sep 2015
- Joint Letter on Observer Courtesy - May 2013
- OLE Safety Decal Letter Jun 2016
Data Quality Assurance Programs
- Data Quality Monitoring and Improvement Measures - 2013
- Late Observer Policy - Dec 2014
- Gear Certification and Maintenance Program - Dec 2014
2015 NEFSC FSB Program Review
In December 2014 through January 2015, an independent review was conducted to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the Fisheries Sampling Branch, the relevancy of its programs to current and future needs, the value and contribution of program outputs to meeting program objectives, the applicability of current approaches to strategic and operation processes. The final report and the NEFSC's summary and response to the report are now available.