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Commercial Shark Fishery Observer Program

Observer Training

Introduction
observer training
The Commercial Shark Fishery Observer Program (CSFOP), is operated by the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History (FlMNH), University of Florida, and places observers on bottom longline vessels involved in the U.S. Atlantic shark fishery. CSFOP observers have recorded the composition and disposition of the catch and by-catch in this widespread (NJ to TX) fishery since 1994. Since the shark catch is headed, gutted and finned at sea, port sampling is not a viable means of quantifying the catch because the marketed carcasses are difficult, if not impossible, to identify to species. In addition, by-catch in the fishery is discarded at sea or used as bait and thus cannot be quantified at the dock. Programmatic data, gathered by an unbiased team of academic observers, serves as a common starting point for management discussions during the regulatory process. The CSFOP, originally developed as a cooperative program between the FLMNH, Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Development Foundation and voluntarily participating vessels, monitored an estimated 2% of the catch (on 24 vessels) between 1994-2001. In 2002 participation became mandatory as a result of decreasing levels of cooperation from vessel operators and the desire to increase coverage to 4%. Increases in funding in 2002 also allow for expansion of geographic coverage from NC-FL to NJ-LA.

Observer Training is a crucial component of this program and is composed of a week- long training session that includes: safety training, species identification, typical day at sea worksheets, data collection protocols, and biological sampling. This web-site should be used by current observers, as well as those interested in being an observer or the program in general.

observer training