8th International Fisheries Observer and Monitoring Conference

Abstract Submission


Abstract submission opens          28 April 2016
Abstract submission closes          20 June 2016
Author registration deadline          18 July 2016
Conference dates          29 August – 2 September 2016


Submission Instructions for Preparing and Formatting Your Abstract(s):
  • Write abstract title in the field provided.
  • DO NOT repeat the abstract title in the body of the abstract.
  • Font type and size for the abstract text: Arial 10 point font.
  • Paragraphs should be left justified with no indentation.
  • Use single line-space within a paragraph and double line-space between paragraphs (i.e., leave a blank line between paragraphs).
  • MAXIMUM of 350 words. 
  • Words that are to be abbreviated must be spelled out in full at first mention, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses; e.g., International Fisheries Observer and Monitoring Conference (IFOMC).
  • Ensure you are registered for the Conference by 18 July 2016.


The 8th IFOMC aims to focus on the following 13 themes:

1. What can we learn from observer programs around the world?

In recent years, Observer Programs throughout the world are increasing in number, scale, diversity and sophistication due to their role in providing a major source of information underpinning all kinds of fisheries management policies and initiatives (such as rights-based management, EBFM, bycatch caps, fishing quotas, the European Discard Ban, catch trip limits, the Pacific Tuna days-at-sea restrictions, etc.). This session will enable new observer programs to take advantage and benefit from the “knowledge bank” available from established observer programs. Furthermore, established observer programs will also learn from emerging programs – which are often at the “cutting edge” of innovation, new technologies and alternative management approaches. By sharing information about the lessons learned, and fostering increased collaboration among the world’s observer community, this key session will introduce elements that will permeate throughout the rest of the conference.

2. How do we train and prepare observers, provide opportunities for professional growth and reward performance?

In this session, we would like to explore proven methods to train, inspire, support and invest in a strong and committed work force for observer and monitoring programs. We will cover where, and how, you find and keep good observers, and the benefits for doing so. We also want to hear about new ways to drive high performance, a strong work ethic, effective communication and reliability throughout the observer community.  

3. How can fisheries observers improve the quality, diversity and use of fisheries dependent information?

The “quality” of scientific data has several dimensions including its relevance, accuracy, credibility, timeliness, accessibility, interpretability and coherence. And as fisheries observers attempt to gather their data in accordance with these principles, they must work in situations that vary greatly with regard: the type and quantity of data being collected, the methods used to collect it, legal requirements, safety considerations, confidentiality issues, different vessels, deck spaces and working environments, the behaviours of captains and crews, language barriers, data capture and transmission protocols, etc. etc. This session will seek to explore the range of knowledge, personality and skills that observers must have in order to accomplish their tasks to the highest quality possible under such a myriad of conditions.

4. Reducing risk in a high risk job.

Observers encounter many hazards working on commercial and recreational fishing boats. They encounter everything from poor vessel conditions and extreme weather to harassment, disease and violence. This session will identify such hazards and what has been done to successfully mitigate them. We will also explore remaining needs, and identify strategies that will resolve them. In particular, we will hear about the hazards that observers face and how education, safety equipment, and field support can reduce them and how to build a strong safety culture

5. Can observers effectively perform scientific AND compliance functions?

In many observer programs, observers are expected to fulfil both scientific and compliance roles, recording scientific data on catches, bycatches and taking biological samples, whilst also recording any regulatory infractions that vessels and crews may make. This can place the observer in a difficult and often dangerous position and, it is thought, may have even led to fatalities. This session seeks to gather and discuss the various ways and means of protecting observers from repercussions when they are collecting information on compliance breaches.

6. What are the latest technology trends for fisheries monitoring programs?

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in our fishery dependent data collection programs. This session will explore recent innovations in this field including improvements in basic observer “tools of the trade”, automated reporting systems, electronic logbooks, electronic monitoring systems using still and video cameras, smart phone and satellite technology. The session will discuss how technology will influence future fishery dependent data collection systems in individual fisheries, as well as at national, regional and international levels. We particularly encourage vendors of technological systems to showcase their equipment in the conference exhibition areas.

7. What are the challenges with integrating Electronic Monitoring / Electronic Reporting technology into fishery monitoring programs?

As Government leaders and fishery stakeholders increasingly promote the use of high technology in fisheries monitoring systems managers must now incorporate such systems into existing data collection programs, while maintaining (or perhaps modifying) management goals, data needs, funding sources and regulations. The objective of this session is to explore recent practitioner experiences with these integration challenges. We hope to identify those observer programs that are best suited for using electronic technologies to meet their needs and those barriers that influence the implementation of fully operational Electronic Monitoring/Reporting programs.

8. How do we best monitor recreational and pay-for-hire (charter) fisheries?

It has become increasingly acknowledged that recreational fisheries form a very significant component of the catch of many fish stocks throughout the world. But, whilst commercial fisheries have a long history of being monitored, recreational fisheries have had far less scrutiny. As the size (and impact) of recreational fisheries is gradually increasing throughout the world, such a lack of robust data concerning their catches, bycatches and impacts is of significant concern for the management of fish stocks. This session aims to investigate the best way(s) to monitor, observe and quantify the impacts of recreational fisheries, including those that involve charter boat fleets, and how to incorporate recreational fisheries monitoring data with data collected from commercial fisheries.

9. How do we observe and monitor artisanal fisheries?

Artisanal fisheries, especially in developing countries, are usually large, diverse, changing and are vital sources of food and jobs. They also take a significant share of fisheries resources, and can therefore cause tension with industrial fisheries. These fisheries also have (at least some) discards and incidental catches, which usually go unmonitored. Due to cultural issues and the idiosyncrasies of artisanal fishers, an important factor in the success of any monitoring program relies on observers’ communication skills with them. In this session we will explore (using a series of case studies): ways to establish the objectives, design and operational logistics of monitoring programs in artisanal fisheries; satisfactory levels of observer coverage in them; the relative cost-benefits of various ways to conduct monitoring programs in them (using, eg. observers and/or electronic systems); and the training and logistical support needed for observers working with artisanal fishers.

10. What are the future trends for transshipment observer programs?

Transshipment observer operations have been occurring for the past several years. They have developed to be global in scope and are creating a whole new dynamic of fisheries observing. Due to the recent tragic loss of an observer during a transshipment operation, questions regarding the ongoing safe operation of such programs require answers. This session will explore these programs in detail and consider issues including: the safety of transshipment observers, the responsibilities of the flag nation to the observer, emergency action plans for these operations, and the benefits, protocols, procedures and dangers for boarding Large Scale Tuna Longline Vessels at sea.

11. How much observer coverage and monitoring is enough? Methods for reducing and/or incorporating biased data collection.

There are many potential sources of bias in the collection and analysis of fisheries data. Examples from observer programs include vessel selection, catch sampling, changes in fishing behavior when an observer is, or is not, on board, and analytical techniques employed in the estimation of catch rates of target and bycatch species (including protected species). In this session, we will explore the main sources of sampling or analytical bias common in observer and other monitoring programs and the methods that we can employ to minimize them.

12. Can data from the fishing industry be used to monitor fisheries compliance, seafood traceability and/or fisheries certification?

Because the fishing industry is increasingly required to prove their compliance to various fishing regulations, policies, traceability requirements and eco-labelling certification needs, we want to explore examples where industry has taken the lead in monitoring their own activities for such purposes. This would include how such programs are run and how the data are audited, validated and used.

13. How can fisheries monitoring programs support an ecosystem based approach to fisheries management?

As agencies throughout the world implement elements of Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management (EBFM), the data requirements from fisheries monitoring programs have been substantially broadened. This session focuses on the uses of observer and other monitoring data to underpin the implementation of EBFM. Topics will include: accounting for total sources of catch and bycatch; analyzing species diversity, richness, productivity and susceptibility; meeting data requirements for multispecies stock assessments and defining alternative ecosystem-level reference points; monitoring ecosystem pressure, status and response indicators; monitoring broad community- and ecosystem-level effects of fishing; demonstrating adherence to the precautionary approach; and using observer data to design, refine and improve monitoring programs.

Abstract Submission

Submissions Now Closed