Observer Health Safety and Welfare

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Background and Objectives

The work of the Observer Health, Safety, and Welfare APO focus area is centered about initiating and managing projects intended to provide resources regarding and investigate and take action upon important initiatives meant to foster the health, safety, and general welfare of Fisheries Observers, like: at-sea working conditions and emergency procedures; safety training, rules, and standards; drills and inspections; and, compliance and enforcement of rules and standards that have bearing on the safety of observers and their professional livelihood. 

Current Projects

For details and resources specific to each of the current ongoing projects of the Observer Health, Safety, and Welfare APO Focus Area, please navigate to each project page found at the following links:


Observer Insurance

Observer Provider Insurance Workshop

November 8-9, 2016: The National Observer Program will be hosting a workshop in Washington D.C. Please see the provided documents to prepare for the workshop.

Issue 1: Observers have not been justifiably compensated when injured, despite overlapping insurance coverage.

Issue 2: Contractors want to reduce insurance costs

Issue 3: Observers are not afforded the same rights as crewmen when injured, despite working side by side along fishermen.

Observers are allowed to 'listen in only' (see agenda for instructions), while managers and observer providers are allowed to participate remotely.


  • Agenda

  • Workshop Attendees

  • Hotel Information

  • Observer Provider Regulations

  • 1994 - Observer Insurance Technical Recommendations

  • 1995 - Lost at Sea - Sea Time Overdue for Observers (too big for upload - e-mail APO for this)

  • 2001 - First Insurance Workshop

  • 2001 - Excerpt, First Insurance Workshop

  • 2003 - Plan to Minimize Risks for Observers

  • 2005 - FOCA document

  • 2014 - AOI (North Pacific observer provider) Proposal to Amend Insurance Requirements

  • 2014 - North Pacific Council Letter to NMFS Regarding Insurance Amendment

  • 2015 - NMFS Response to NP Council Amendment Proposal

Membership and Contact Information

Please do not hesitate to contact APO with your questions or feedback, and if you have any interest in participating in the developments of this APO Focus Area.


In the future, this APO Focus Area aims to center more on international outreach, meant to foster a more broadened approach for all APO projects. If there is a particular project that you would like to see addressed, we wholeheartedly welcome your suggestions. We need your help with the Observer Health, Safety, and Welfare APO focus area. The time and level of commitment you can provide is up to you. 

General Resources and Links

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) partners with APO on fisheries observer issues:

29 Aug 2007: High seas harassment of NOAA fishing observers on rise

24 Sep 2007: NOAA shifting to industry control over fishing observers

16 Oct 2007: Attacks on fishing observers rise by almost half in 2006

08 Aug 2008: Ocean fisheries protections to be weakened

20 Jan 2010: New fishing monitor system shirks marine protections

01 Dec 2011: Fisheries observers told to turn a blind eye to violations

14 May 2013: Fisheries violation reporting reforms overdue

16 May 2013: High seas harassment of fisheries observers more than doubles

23 May 2013: Dangerous catch – fisheries observers put in harm's way

30 May 2013: Fisheries observers gain whistleblower protections

14 Aug 2013: Longlines killing Pacific seabirds at record rate

28 Oct 2013: Electronic monitoring for fishing fleets stuck in dry-dock

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