An ‘observer’ is a person who is authorized by a regulatory authority to collect scientific information to assist in the monitoring, compliance and serveillance (MSC) of commercial exploitation of marine resources. The observer must be financially independent of the industry being monitored. Observers generally do not have enforcement powers but their duties often involve the collection of enforcement related information.
Observers are tasked with a wide range of duties that are primarily related to commercial fishing, although other industries impacting the ocean environment may be monitored as well. Observers are typically either hired by third party contractual agreements or directly by a government regulatory authority. However, sometimes observers are hired as independent contractors. Regardless of employer, observers generally work independently and unsupervised in an isolated and sometimes contentious environment and a variety of entities may negatively impact their ability to complete their duties.
We frequently hear a call for more observer coverage but in order for the coverage to be effective, we must call for more protections to safeguard the observers ability to do their work unhindered by harassment and interference. Please see our open letter to ocean activists and marine conservation groups.