AIS is the current provider for the Northeast Fisheries Observer Program (NEFOP) Support Services contract to the Northeast Fisheries Observer Program. Fisheries observers are the only independent source of bycatch data including biological sample collection in commercial fisheries, as well as incidental bycatch of marine mammals, sea turtles and birds. The data collected by fisheries observers is also used to supplement stock assessments conducted by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). The NEFSC Fisheries Sampling Branch is responsible for overseeing observer training, determining sampling protocols, and data management.
AIS provides the necessary management staff, personnel, equipment and support services to safely collect commercial fisheries data and samples onboard fishing vessels utilizing dredge, gillnet, handline, longline, otter trawl, pot & trap, and purse seine gear to target a variety of different species in the Northwest Atlantic. The vessels operate out of coastal communities from Maine to North Carolina and trips range in duration from 1 to 14 days.
AIS provides 24/7 support to observers through all phases of their deployment (recruitment, training, deployment, post deployment, and when exiting the program). Support includes setting-up trips, assigning observers to trips, training observers, logistics, managing pay and benefits, and implementing retention strategies. In addition to supporting observers through all phases of deployment, AIS places high value on observers submitting the highest quality data to the NMFS to support fisheries management and stock assessment purposes.