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Fisheries Monitoring and Analysis Division (FMA)

FMA Observer Program Activities

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During the second quarter of 2012 a total of 209 observers were trained, briefed, and equipped for deployment to vessels and processing facilities operating in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries.  Observers collected data onboard 207 vessels and at 17 processing facilities for a total of 11,158 observer days over this 3-month period.

New observer candidates are required to complete a 3-week training class with 120 hours of scheduled class time and additional training by staff as necessary.  Returning observers are required to attend an annual 4-day briefing class prior to their next deployment in order to provide observers with necessary updates regarding their responsibilities.  Prior to subsequent deployments throughout the year, all observers must attend a 1-day, 2-day, or 4-day briefing in Seattle; the length of the briefing is dependent on individual observer’s needs.  During the second quarter of 2012, FMA staff in Seattle provided training for 56 new observers and briefed 143 observers in Seattle.

The Observer Training Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage was closed in March of this year; as a result, most observer training activities as well as safety and sampling gear disbursements are conducted now in Seattle. To accommodate observers deploying from and returning to Alaska, FMA field office staff in Anchorage now provide 1-day briefings and issue gear to observers who are rapidly redeploying. During this last quarter, 10 observers attended the 1-day briefing we now offer at our Anchorage field office.

After each deployment, observers meet with a staff member for debriefing to finalize the data collected.  There were 21 debriefings in Anchorage and, due to a larger debriefing staff, 192 debriefings in Seattle.  Note that the values for the numbers of briefings and debriefings do not represent a count of individual observers as many observers deploy multiple times throughout the year.

gynn schnaittacher  
FMA North Pacific Groundfish Observer Provider Liason Gynne Schnaittacher.  

A highlight for our Division during this quarter was the addition of a new staff member, Gwynne Schnaittacher, who will represent FMA as the North Pacific Groundfish Observer Provider Liaison in Seattle. Gwynne serves as the primary point of contact for observer providers and for observers with provider concerns. As such, in coordination with supervisors and observer providers, Gwynne resolves operational problems; develops policies and procedures to manage the pool of observer providers; and monitors observer provider compliance with regulations and policies. Gwynne is the primary point of contact for all training and briefing registration issues, and she schedules all debriefing requests and reviews and maintains observer files. 

Gwynne joins us with extensive experience from the East Coast where, for over 6 years, she worked as the direct observer provider liaison between A.I.S., Inc. and the NMFS Northeast Fisheries Observer Program. In that role, her primary responsibility was to work closely with NMFS to ensure A.I.S. contractual parameters were achieved, such as data quality monitoring, sea day requirements, and scheduling debriefings and trainings. Gwynne was the supervisor of senior management staff at A.I.S. and was ultimately responsible for 70 observers. While in her position with A.I.S., Gwynne also maintained her certification as a NMFS Northeast Fisheries Observer by deploying on several commercial trips each year.

Gwynne received both her bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of New Hampshire in zoology. In addition to her observer program involvement, Gwynne has conducted bycatch reduction studies on the East Coast in collaboration with local commercial fishermen. Outside of the work environment, she actively pursues adventure through international travel, hiking with her dog Moxie, kayaking, mountain biking, and gardening.

The FMA Division is extremely pleased that Gwynne brings her skills, experience, and enthusiasm to this important position. Please join us in welcoming Gwynne to our team.

By Allison Barns and Patti Nelson

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