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NPGOP Statistics for the Year 2003
  New Observers trained at AFSC
New Observers trained at UAA
Prior Observers briefed at AFSC
Prior Observers briefed at UAA
Prior Observers briefed at Kodiak field station
Prior Observers briefed at Dutch Harbor field station
Prior Observers excused from briefing

Total trained, briefed, equipped for deployment

Percent of observers with prior experience
Percent of new observers
Individual vessels covered by observers
Individual shoreside plants covered by observers

Total observer coverage days

Observers debriefed in Seattle
Observers debriefed in Kodiak
Observers debriefed in Dutch Harbor
Observers debriefed in Anchorage

Total observers debriefed







During the fourth quarter of 2003, 122 observers were trained, briefed, and equipped for deployment to fishing and processing vessels and shoreside plants in the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, and Aleutian Islands. They sampled aboard 158 fishing and processing vessels and at 12 shoreside processing plants for a total of 4,507 days. These observers were trained or briefed in two locations. The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Observer Training Center briefed 67 observers with prior experience, and another 24 first-time observers were trained there. The Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) Observer Program in Seattle briefed 20 observers. No observers were briefed at the Observer Program’s field offices in Dutch Harbor and Kodiak during the fourth quarter of 2003, and 11 observers were excused from briefing because they had just completed a cruise successfully and were returning immediately to the field. The fourth quarter 2003 observer workforce thus comprised 20% new observers and 80% experienced observers.

The Observer Program conducted a total of 198 debriefings during the fourth quarter of 2003. Three debriefings were held in Kodiak, 69 in Anchorage, and 126 were held in Seattle

Observer Safety Reports

In the interest of fostering increased safety awareness and protection for observers at sea, the Observer Program has given the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Marine Safety direct access to the section of the electronic observer survey questionnaire dealing with safety. Through this effort the Observer Program is continuing to develop a spirit of open collaboration and communication with the Coast Guard concerning vessel safety. These efforts will aid in the identification of safety concerns aboard fishing vessels which can be investigated and addressed by the Coast Guard. The result will be a safer working environment for observers and all others who work with them on fishing vessels.

International Fishing Safety Conference

Three Observer Program staff along with one UAA/OTC staff member gave several presentations at the Second International Fishing Industry Safety and Health Conference (IFISH II) in Sitka, Alaska, 22-24 September. The conference was attended by about 130 people from more than 20 different countries.

The fishing industry is recognized as one of the most dangerous professions in the United States. Yet in nearly 500,000 sea days logged by observers from the North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program from 1986 to the present, there has only been one observer death. This is an exemplary safety record which is due in large measure to the safety preparation afforded to observers in training and annual briefings. The Observer Program and UAA/OTC staff gave several presentations at IFISH II which highlighted various aspects of the Observer Program’s safety training. The presentations were a) an evaluation of the Observer Program’s proactive safety training approach using brainstorming sessions with observers and staff; b) an explanation of the development process for making safety training videos and their use as an important supplement in the Observer Program’s safety training curriculum; and c) a description of the incorporation of a safety training module called, “The Psychology of Survival” into the Observer Program’s safety training, which helps to develop the all important “will to survive” in observers.

ATLAS System

The most significant changes since 1999 were made to both the observer sampling manual and the observer at-sea data messaging system (ATLAS system) in preparation for full implementation in 2004. The ATLAS system will be updated to capture new data types, and changes will also be made to create better efficiency and ease of use. The 500 page observer manual will receive a face-lift complete with new formatting and graphics. It will also contain new content, and suggested changes from observers will be made for easier use. The observer manual has been in existence since the mid-1970s and has been used as a model for newly developed observer programs around the United States and the world. It can be viewed at:

By Bob Maier.


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