The Southwest Region Fisheries Observer Program has operated out of the regional Office since 1976, beginning by observing U.S. tuna purse seine vessels fishing in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. Since then, the program has observed several other west coast fisheries largfely driven by concerns over fishery interactions with marine mammals and endangered species.
EPO Tuna Purse Seine Fishery
The Southwest Region Fisheries Observer Program began fielding observers in 1976 aboard U.S. tuna purse seine vessels fishing in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean,until in 1994 when this authority was delegated to the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. This Program was established under the Marine Mammal Protection Act out of public concern for the incidental catch of small cetaceans during tuna fishing operations.
California/Oregon Drift Gillnet Fishery
Since July 1990, The Southewest Region Fisheries Observer Program has placed observers aboard the California/Oregon drift gillnet fishery targeting swordfish and thresher shark to document the incidental capture of marine mammals and sea turtles.
California Set Gillnet Fishery
From 1990 to 1994, the Southwest Region Fishery Observer Program placed observers on the California Set Gillnet Fishery targeting California halibut, angel shark, white seabass, soupfin shark, and yellow tail to document the incidental capture of marine mammals and sea turtles. This observer program also operated in Monterey Bay from 1999 to 2000 and in southern California during 2006, 2007, and 2010 to present.
California Shallow-Set Pelagic Longline Fishery
From 2001 to 2004 observers monitored the California shallow-set pelagic longline fishery targeting swordfish on the high seas( beyond 200 nautical miles from shore) to document the incidental capture of sea turtles and seabirds.
California Deep-Set Pelagic Longline Fishery
Observers have been placed aboard the California deep-set pelagic longline fishery targeting tuna on the high seas since 2005 to document the incidental capture of sea turtles and seabirds.
Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery
Fisheries observers were deployed on coastal pelagic species purse seine vessels from 2004 to 2008 to document the incidental capture of marine mammals. These vessels targeted pacific sardine, northern anchovy, and market squid.
The Southwest Region Fisheries Observer Program conducted pilot observer programs from 2004 to 2007 to observe west coast commercial passenger fishing vessels, the west coast albacore troll/baitboat fishery, and the southern California tuna purse seine fishery to assess finfish bycatch rates.