Industry Funded Scallop Program

In June 2006, NOAA Fisheries re-activated the Industry Funded Scallop Observer Program implemented under the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan (FMP) through a scallop total allowable catch and days-at-sea set aside program that helps vessel owners defray the cost of carrying an observer. A.I.S., Inc. has been an approved Observer provider for the Industry Funded Scallop (IFS) program since the programs creation in July 2006. During this time our Observers have been deployed on vessels that have sailed from ports ranging from Maine to North Carolina. These vessels range in size from 42 feet to 120 feet in length and fish under either general category or limited access permits. Trip duration varies from a single day to 18 days. The data collected under this program are similar to the data collected by Fisheries Observers working under the Northeast Fisheries Observer Program contract. Our IFS Observers are managed by an experienced team of management and support staff.

The Industry Funded Scallop observers are deployed on trips to collect scientific data following NMFS protocols. IFS observers have a background in the biological sciences and preferably have seagoing experience. New IFS observers attend a two week training program in Falmouth, MA that is conducted by NOAA Fisheries. The training includes sessions on gear measurements, fish and incidental take identification, sampling protocols, catch estimation, conflict resolution and safety. Once the classroom portion of the training is complete the new IFS observers are required to complete three IFS trips within six months as training trips. While on an IFS trip, the observers collect data on the vessel costs, the gear used, the location fished, weather conditions and catch data for at least 50% of the hauls.   Generally the observers work a watch similar to a crew member. Watches may range from 6 to 12 hours depending on the vessel.  Data is recorded on paper logs that are sent to NMFS for editing and entry. A brief trip summary is uploaded within 24 hours of landing via a handheld computer with an internet connection.