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The International Fisheries Observer and Monitoring Conference (IFOMC) is held every two or three years. Each conference attracts hundreds of participants: observers, scientists, researchers, policy-makers, non-government organisations, and others involved in commercial fishing.

A record of the proceedings of conferences are made available online. The most recent conference, the ninth, held in 2018, covered topics such as:

  • industry engagement with monitoring
  • technology and electronic monitoring
  • new approaches to analysing data
  • training for observers
  • observer safety and mental health
  • standardising monitoring programs
  • the future of monitoring programs.

The eighth IFOMC conference covered lessons from observer programmes around the world, including that of the PNA Observer Agency. Other topics included:

  • how the Pacific Community trains observers, and provides for professional growth
  • reducing risk in a high-risk job
  • recent actions in the WCPFC to improve the safety of observers.

It also included a case study on the development of affordable satellite technology to replace time-consuming paper-based data collection. Observers in the Pacific Islands Regional Observer Program (PIROP) tested the system at sea. All reported that they would prefer the satellite technology because it was simpler and faster, and they got higher quality data.

 

An observer at work at Tuvalu. Photo credit: Francisco Blaha.