AIS has provided At Sea Monitor (ASM) services to the Northeast Fisheries Observer Program since the programs inception in 2010 with the implementation of Amendment 16 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. When it was originally created, the government awarded contracts to multiple providers, including AIS to provide ASM support services. In 2016, the ASM program became industry funded and AIS has continued to provide ASM services through direct contracts with individual groundfish sectors created with Amendment 16.
Currently, AIS works closely with individual sectors to meet the coverage requirements while deploying ASM in an unbiased manner per the requirements of the NMFS and the Pre Trip Notification System. AIS employs Monitors in strategic ports to maximize coverage and minimize travel costs. AIS is responsible for the recruitment, retention, and support of Monitors leading up to and during their deployment on commercial fishing vessels targeting groundfish to collect data for the NMFS. After successfully completing a 12 day training through the NMFS, Monitors are deployed on vessels using gillnet, handline, longline, and bottom otter trawl gear. Monitors are responsible for obtaining actual weights of the catch whenever possible, and use various subsampling methods when actual weights are unobtainable. Monitors also record lengths of certain priority species, as called for, by the sampling protocols dictated by NOAA Fisheries. Monitors work closely with the captain and crew to determine disposition codes for all species caught on a haul by haul basis. Additionally, any bycatch of marine mammals, sea birds or sea turtles are thoroughly documented.