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Fisheries Monitoring and Analysis

FMA Observer Program Provides Training to Chilean Scientists

Research Reports
Spring 2015
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Post training dinner with FMA staff and Chilean visitors.  Clockwise from left to right: FMA Director Chris Rilling, Marco Troncoso, Robert Bello, Gwynne Schnaittacher, Adriana Myers, Nick Thom, Brian Mason.

In June, the Fisheries Monitoring and Analysis Division (FMA) hosted two scientists, Marco Troncoso and Robert Bello from the Fisheries Development Institute in Chile, the governing body responsible for the management of the Chilean observer program. Because one of the fisheries managers at Chile’s Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture is a previous observer with the FMA’s North Pacific Groundfish and Halibut Observer Program, this was seen as an ideal opportunity to provide some cross training with the FMA.

Recent changes to fisheries regulations in Chile have increased the responsibilities and pressure on the country’s observer program. While the Chilean program has performed well, it aims to elevate its  standards in order to accomplish new duties, particularly in regard to training, observer qualifications, and data quality. Given the reputation of the FMA Observer Program, an established relationship between the two programs’ staff, and the goals attained in fisheries conservation and management by NOAA, the Chilean Observer Program was interested in reproducing some criteria and approaches used by the United States in fisheries management and specifically those of the FMA Observer Program.

In order to better understand the FMA Observer Program, Robert and Marco participated in a full 3-week training class for new observers held in June and led by Nick Thom. It was insightful to discuss with Robert and Marco the differences between the countrys’ two programs and confirm their common goal to collect unbiased quality data and preserve our respective living marine resources. Both Robert and Marco were impressed with the quality and intensity of FMA’s training and how comprehensive the safety portion of the observer training was. Their participation provided a great opportunity to interact with scientists from another country’s observer program and assist with cross training.
In addition to participating in training, Robert and Marco met with other FMA staff to collect information regarding at-sea data transmission and data quality management of observer data. Robert and Marco met with Eduardo Devasa-Laux, an FMA debriefer, to review in-season communications and data management and the complex quality control process conducted at the end of an observer’s deployment.  Additionally, they worked with Glenn Campbell from the FMA’s technology team to learn about FMA’s ATLAS data entry program and methods of transmitting data in near real time. This was a unique and exciting opportunity for not only Marco and Robert  but for FMA staff as well. We look forward to cross-training opportunities in the future.


By Gwynne Schnaittacher and Adriana Myers


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