Observer collecting scale samples from a yellowtail flounderObserver collecting scale samples from a yellowtail flounder. Scales can be used to estimate the age of the fish. This information, combined with the length of the fish will add to the robustness of the stock assessment. Credit: NE Observer Program, NEFSC / NOAA

Observer Program Data and Forms

For Fishermen

Data Release Policy, Instructions, and Forms

The Northeast Fisheries Observer Program (NEFOP) recognizes the importance for fishermen to obtain a copy of the data that NEFOP observers and At-Sea Monitors (ASMs) collect on their vessels. Our data release policy follows the confidentiality requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to ensure data is released under the property authority and safeguarded. Please see below for details pertaining to the data requests for NMFS observer-obtained information

  • The only individuals who may request and receive data include: the owner(s), or the captain acting as an authorized representative for the owner(s), of a vessel participating in the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) Observer Program. No other individuals may be issued any data under this policy.
  • Any data request must be submitted in writing on a form letter which may be obtained from a NMFS Observer, or the address below. Two signatures are required on this letter: that of the individual requesting the data, and that of the individual releasing the data. All letters must then be returned to the following address:

    Chief, Fisheries Sampling Branch
    National Marine Fisheries Service
    Northeast Fisheries Science Center
    166 Water Street
    Woods Hole, MA 02543-1097

    Any questions or other requests relating to data release should also be directed to the above address.

  • It should be understood that upon release of the requested data, the recipient then becomes responsible for it.
  • The individual signing the letter as the “releaser” must issue the information in compliance with this policy.
  • Data may not be released upon an oral request, or without first completing and signing the authorized release letter mentioned above.
  • Field diaries do not meet the specifications of releasable data under the policy. No field diaries may be copied for, or reviewed by, vessel owners or captains.
  • Release of data for trips in which more than one vessel participated (i.e., pair trawl trips) may only occur if both vessel owners or captains complete and sign data release letters.
  • Any requests for historical data (i.e.,data that an observer has already mailed in) should be forwarded to the address above.
  • All letters should be completed in pen, not pencil.

Data release forms

  • Data Release Policy and Form
    Information data release for owner(s), or the captain acting as an authorized representative for the owner(s), or vessel participating in the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) Observer Program.
  • Data Release Form for Third Parties
    Information and authorization of observer data released to third parties.

The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

The observer program provides information that is used in analyses that support the conservation and management of living marine resources and that are required under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), Executive Order 12866 (EO 12866), and other applicable law. Most of the information collected by observers is obtained through “direct observation by an employee or agent of the sponsoring agency or through non-standardized oral communication in connection with such direct observations".

Under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) regulations at 5 C.F.R. 1320.3(h)(3), facts or opinions obtained through such observations and communications are not considered to be "information" subject to the PRA. For more information on the PRA, please see the Federal Register. The PRA Statement below includes information on the data collected through the Fisheries Sampling Branch and associated public reporting burden.

Paper Reduction Act (PRA) Statement

For Observers

For End Users

End User Data Request Form (Data Summaries)

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(File Modified Jan. 10 2018)