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. ASMs are responsible for collecting catch data aboard commercial fishing vessels in the groundfish fleet, as well as gear characteristics and economic data associated with the trip. The kept and discarded species data collected by the ASM program is used to monitor bycatch from the fishery and determine 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 ASM candidates in identifying target and bycatch species in the Northeast multispecies (groundfish) fishery, 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 how to identify 75 species of fish, marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds, as well as how to utilize electronic data collection and transcription, conflict resolution strategies, and mathematical estimation methods for catch composition. ASM candidates also complete a two-day marine safety training certification course specific to working on commercial fishing vessels at sea. After completing the course with an overall grade of 85% or higher, an ASM candidate must then successfully complete four certification trips to earn an ASM certification.
Amendment 23 to the Northeast multispecies (groundfish) Fishery Management Plan will call for 100% coverage of groundfish trips through the ASM Groundfish Program and Northeast Fisheries Observer Program (NEFOP). The goal of this amendment is to improve the reliability and accountability of catch reporting in the commercial groundfish fishery. This is a first in history and a significant increase from the 40% combined coverage in 2021. We're always looking for more ASMs, so if you have an interest in fisheries conservation and field data collection, this could be the perfect job for you!
To learn more about becoming an ASM, contact one of the companies that provides ASMs to the NEFSC’s Northeast Fisheries Observer Program. A list is posted here.