Teri Frady
NOAA Fisheries
(508) 495-2239


October 5, 2005

NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center

N         E         W         S

Open House October 12
at Northeast Fishery Observer Training Center
Public Invited

NOAA Fisheries Service’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) is inviting the public to an October 12 open house to see how the agency trains people to collect scientific information aboard commercial fishing vessels. The open house begins at 11AM at the new Northeast Fishery Observer Training Center at the Falmouth Technology Park.

“Our fisheries observers are highly trained individuals who go to sea to collect information needed to make wise decisions about fishery management,” said Dr. John Boreman, Science and Research Director for the NEFSC, headquartered in Woods Hole. “This is a chance for anyone interested in marine resource management to see firsthand how observers learn to do their difficult jobs.”

Observers at work: Fishery observers collecting samples from both the kept and the discarded catch during a bottom trawl fishing trip. Observers work on a variety of vessels targeting groundfish, skates, monkfish, herring, squid, lobster, shellfish such as sea scallops and quahogs, and more. Photo by NOAA Fisheries Service/NEFSC/Fisheries Sampling Branch.

Fishery observers are deployed from Maine to North Carolina on a variety of commercial vessels. This year, observers will report on nearly 10,000 commercial fishing days. There are currently just over 100 trained observers in the region. Training sessions are three weeks long, conducted about four times per year.

The open house marks the official opening of the Observer Program Training Center, established this year in a new facility at 25 Bernard Saint Jean Drive in the Falmouth Technology Park. The facility will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors will be required to sign in.

A short dedication ceremony is planned for 11AM. The open house also features refreshments, a video and presentations and demonstrations on how observers collect data about catch and commercial fishing gear. Fifteen-minute demonstrations will be offered at eight stations identified throughout the building.

Observer safety trainers from the U.S. Coast Guard staff and McMillan Offshore Survival Training will demonstrate vessel safety procedures and equipment.

NOAA Fisheries Service staff and observers will demonstrate how biological samples are collected from fish, and sea turtle tagging. Scientists and observers will be on hand to answer questions about the use of observer collected data in stock assessments and fishery management; legal mandates for observer coverage on commercial fishing vessels; methods for determining how much observer coverage is needed; selection of vessels for coverage; and observer training.

Information about the Observer Program and the open house is available online at:

Other questions can be addressed to open house organizer Amy Van Atten (

Observers in training: The July 2005 fishery observer class learning to swim and stay afloat in immersion suits. Observers not only train to collect samples and properly document their work, but also how to avoid and survive accidents at sea. In addition to trying out survival gear, the trainees learn basic first aid and fire response methods, and are CPR-certified. Photo by NOAA Fisheries Service/NEFSC/Fisheries Sampling Branch.

NOAA Fisheries Service is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation’s living marine resources and their habitats through scientific research, management and enforcement. NOAA Fisheries Service provides effective stewardship of these resources for the benefit of the nation, supporting coastal communities that depend upon them, and helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational opportunities for the American public.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with our federal partners and nearly 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

On the Web:
NMFS Northeast Region:
NOAA Fisheries Service:

NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service * 166 Water Street * Woods Hole, MA * 02543

NOAA Fisheries - Northeast Fisheries Science Center
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