There is only one regional standard qualification for observers in the world – the Pacific’s – and it forms the basis for all the National Observer Programmes: the Pacific Islands Regional Fisheries Observer (PIRFO) standards. The Pacific Community’s Fisheries Monitoring Section developed it, in collaboration with SPC members, the Forum Fisheries Agency and the Secretariat of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

Many new observers are needed to help meet the data needs of WCPFC conservation and management measures. The Pacific Island Regional Fisheries Observer (PIRFO) provides certification and training Standards. This 2013 working paper describes a long-term strategy for training and supporting observers, and for continuing to develop and operate standards.

The SPC’s Oceanic Fisheries Programme has two areas related to observers’ work:

Documents useful for trainee observers include the CMM for the Regional Observer Programme, the programme standards and guidelines, and observer handbook about the CMMs and the PIRFO website.

People interested in training to be an observer can watch this 2-minute video by the FFA: ‘What is the observers programme?

There is increasing focus on research and training to improve observers’ skills worldwide. Photo credit: Francisco Blaha

Training and capacity development of observers

Benefits of electronic monitoring

Electronic monitoring of vessels provides a means for complementing the activity of observers on purse seine vessels where 100% of fishing vessels have observers. It also offers a means of supplementing observation on longline fishing vessels where less than 5% of boats have observers. SPC’s Neville Smith explains (2.30mins).