At-Sea Monitor Training

Project leads: Tasha O'Hara and Justin Potter

Trainers: Taylor Irwin, Tanner Fernandes, Emily Bruton

Funded by: The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

Through a competitive grant process, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission selected CFF to conduct At-Sea Monitor (ASM) training, in cooperation with NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC).










At-sea monitors are employed by service providers and serve as contractors for NOAA Fisheries. Groundfish monitors are responsible for collecting catch data aboard commercial fishing vessels in the groudfish fleet, as well as gear characteristics and economic data associated with the trip. The discarded species data collected by the ASM program is important because it is a primary source used to monitor groundfish sector allocations during the year. ​

Our ASM training sessions run for 12 days and commonly operate 10 to 12 hours each day of the session. Most trainees arrive with backgrounds in biological sciences, chemistry, and general oceanography. Our team of trainers work closely with the at-sea monitor candidates in identifying target and bycatch species in Northwest Atlantic groundfish fisheries, collecting and reporting fisheries-dependent data following federal guidelines and navigating working alongside commercial fishers. Throughout their two and a half weeks here at CFF, ASM candidates learn 75 species of fish, many different marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds, sampling protocols, electronic data collection and transcription, conflict resolution strategies, mathematical estimation methods for catch composition and they complete a two-day marine safety training certification course. After completing the course with an overall grade of 85% or higher, an ASM candidate must then successfully complete 4 certification trips to earn an At-Sea Monitor certification.  

Amendment 23 will call for 100% coverage of groundfish trips  through the ASM Groundfish Program and Northeast Fisheries Observer Program (NEFOP). This is a first in history and a significant increase from the 40% combined coverage in 2021. The goal of this amendment is to improve the reliability and accountability of catch reporting in the commercial groundfish fishery. 

For more information about Coonamessett Farm Foundation ASM training, please contact Tasha O'Hara (, or Justin Potter ( 

To learn more about becoming an at-sea monitor, contact one of the companies that provides at-sea monitors to the NEFSC’s Northeast Fisheries Observer Program. A list is posted here.