Southwest Region Fisheries Observer Program

The Southwest Region Fisheries Observer Program places NMFS trained observers aboard fishing vessels primarily to monitor the incidental capture of marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds. Observers also record details on fishing activity, gear configuration, and the catch and disposition of target and non target fish species. Observers collect biological samples for use in life history studies and stock assessments performed by the Southwest Fisheries Science Center. 

Fisheries Observers are deployed under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Magnuson- Stevens Fishery and Conservation Management Act.

NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the overall program, implementing national observer policies, and designing the program consistent with regulations and/or recommendations about coverage for individual fisheries. NOAA Fisheries conducts observer training, initial debriefing, and data management. A NOAA fisheries approved contractor is responsible for observer recruitment and employment, monitoring vessels activity, observer deployment, logistics, and delivery of observer data to NOAA Fisheries. Vessel owners and operators are responsible for contacting the designated contractor to make arrangements for mandatory placement of trained observers aboard their vessels.

For more information on the Southwest  Fisheries Observer Program, contact Charles Villafana at Charles.Villafana@noaa.gov or 562.980.4033.