Communication with NMFS, fishermen and A.I.S. staff is paramount to a successful deployment. Observers will be assigned to deployments which may last up to 90 days. Prior to and following each deployment employees will be required to complete the NMFS training or briefing and a post cruise debriefing. Observers will be assigned to one of five general regions of Alaska (Dutch Harbor, Kodiak, Sand Point, Anchorage, and Southeast). During their deployment they will generally complete trips aboard vessels operating out of ports within their assigned regions. Observers will be required to travel throughout the region and to other regions as necessary. To support observers during their deployment AIS will make travel arrangements and provide an allowance for meals (per diem). In order to compensate observers during days when they are on land when work may be unavailable or less than 8 hours of work is completed in a day AIS will provide off duty pay.

At Sea:

While at sea, observers represent AIS and NMFS. They must work in a professional manner while collecting high quality data. Observers work an average of twelve (12) hours per day performing their duties. These duties include collecting unbiased information used for stock assessments, monitoring groundfish quotas, monitoring bycatch of groundfish and non-groundfish species, assessing the effects of the groundfish fishery on other living marine resources and their habitat, and assessing methods intended to improve the conservation and management of groundfish and other living marine resources. The data that is collected is transmitted to NMFS via internet or fax machine.

Accommodations aboard vessels will vary depending on the vessel and the fishery. Quarters are often cramped and shared. The ability to get along with others and maintain a positive attitude under adverse conditions is a necessity.

One constant among all vessel sizes and fisheries is that the work is always strenuous. Observers work on deck, often exposed to the elements for several hours at a time. During a trip the work schedule is also variable and observers must adjust to changing fishing patterns and a 7 day work week. Observers will have to contend with the following at some time during their observer life:

• Being in cold weather and wet conditions
• Cigarette smoke
• The smell of diesel fumes
• Rough seas (10′ seas are common, rarely +20′ seas)
• Food can range from good to ‘what is it?’
• Physical labor. Observing requires lifting heavy baskets on a constantly moving platform for several hours at a time. Most first time observers state that prior to observing they ‘didn’t know what a real work out was’
• Small, inshore boats have no heads (toilets). Observers in these cases typically use a bucket
• English. Depending on the port, some crews do not speak English
• Seasickness. Everyone, including fishermen, get seasick sometime

On Land:

Observer work does not end when the observer departs the vessel. They may also perform other land based duties including but not limited to:

• Submitting their data electronically
• Editing and submitting their paperwork
• Communicating with NMFS staff, AIS personnel and the fishing industry
• Monitoring vessel offloads
• Completing sampling at a plant
• Attending training
• Traveling to and from ports
• Debriefing