The primary purpose of this report was to demonstrate the utility and value of observer programmes as an integral part of monitoring fisheries to provide information necessary to evaluate the impacts of fishing and hence promote sustainability. In the pursuit of reliable data for management, including catch accounting, stock assessment and protected species interactions, fishery managers are increasingly turning to at-sea observers as the most effective and efficient means of collecting information.
A review of selected observer programmes from around the world was conducted to identify good practice examples which could be incorporated into set of rules for creating a generic observer programme. They were chosen to give a wide scope across the industry, both in terms of scale (from small scale artisanal to large scale industrial) and management objectives (whether compliance, management or scientific).
An analysis was undertaken of levels of coverage in the North Sea whitefish fishery necessary to meet the management objectives of the North Sea programme and well as the associated costs and funding options that could be applied.