Independent observers on vessels who monitor and record bycatch and catches form a very important part within effective fisheries management plans.
However, monitoring, control, and surveillance of fishing vessels and their activities are difficult tasks, especially on the high seas.
Consequently, many fisheries lack adequate observer coverage and even when a fisheries management body does have the desire to implement observers it can be too costly to implement effectively.
The difficulty in achieving 100% observer coverage can be remedied by the increasingly talked-about use of electronic control systems, such as electronic log books (where fishermen declare their catches during the fishing operation), or by on-board video surveillance that monitors the fishing operation.
The value of observers
In the same region, a partnership between fishermen, WWF, IATTC and NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) has resulted in extensive observer coverage on the longline fleet which is proving invaluable in helping and informing fishermen about the correct usage of circle hooks as a way of reducing marine turtle bycatch from longline fisheries.