MRAG has been designing and implementing fisheries observer programmes since the early 1990s. Current programmes see observers deployed on toothfish, krill and icefish vessels in the Southern Ocean, on squid trawlers operating off the Falkland Islands, on transhipment vessels operating in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and on bluefin tuna purse seiners and farms around the Mediterranean. In addition, MRAG deploys a Senior Fisheries Protection Officer to the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).

Deployments range in scope from the provision of individual observers for vessels operating in remote regions to the supply of over 80 observers over a short time frame, deployed from ports throughout the Mediterranean (primarily Spain, Croatia and Turkey). Deployment lengths are variable dependent on vessel activities and programme, but in most cases, are no longer than 90 days. The global reach of MRAG’s observer programmes is reflected in the ports through which observers are deployed, including Singapore, Cape Town, Panama, Montevideo, Lyttelton (New Zealand) and Port Stanley (Falklands).

The programmes cover the full spectrum of compliance to science. CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) programmes, for example, focus on scientific data that are used by scientists to provide advice for the management of the fisheries. This includes information on catch composition, bycatch estimation and collection of biological data on target and bycatch species. The ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) bluefin tuna programme, by contrast, focuses mainly on compliance issues and the close monitoring of vessel and farm activities to ensure they are following the prescribed conservation and management measures.

Observer safety is the primary concern across all our programmes, and MRAG implements international best practices on safety across all programmes. We developed a pre-sailing checklist which allows observers to ensure all the correct safety equipment is on board and in date before departure from port. We also provide observers with a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) and an independent (via satellite technology) means of communication with our head office in case of emergencies – this has now become mandatory across a number of RFMO (Regional Fisheries Management Organisation) observer programmes and has also been adopted by CCAMLR.

MRAG provides advice to Governments, RFMOs, vessel operators and NGOs on the development and management of programmes, and through reviews can advise on improvements to current ones. Recent and ongoing projects include provision of training and advice to crew of a toothfish vessel on CCAMLR conservation measures, development of a port state measures training course for port inspectors in Atlantic ports and a review of data collection by observers working on EU vessels off West Africa.

MRAG observer programmes can be divided into five thematic areas consisting of one or more specific observer programmes. Links to individual programmes can be found within each thematic area.

CCAMLR Scheme of International Scientific Observation

Transhipment Regional Observer Programmes

ICCAT Bluefin Tuna Regional Observer Programme

Falkland Island loligo squid observers

IOTC Regional Observer Scheme

Other programmes and studies

  • MRAG provides a complete end-to-end observer service involving: 
  • Observer recruitment;
  • Training;
  • Programme oversight;
  • Supply of scientific and safety equipment;
  • Development of observer protocols and manuals specific to the fishery;
  • Data collection and handling including database design and management;
  • Travel logistics;
  • Insurance;
  • Technical support; and
  • Data analysis and report production.

Current observer vacancies can be found at https://mrag.co.uk/work-us

 

Photo: Crew working on a toothfish longliner. Credit: Alastair King.

Projects

Title Region End Date
Supply of observers to the Falkland Islands Loligo Fishing fleet 2020 - 2023

The purpose of this contract is to provide 16 professional Marine Mammal Observers (…

Antarctic Ocean
Implementation of the ICCAT Regional Observer Programme - Transhipment

In November 2005, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas…

Atlantic Ocean
The Implementation of the ICCAT Regional Observer Programme for Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Bluefin Tuna (ROP-BFT)

The ROP-BFT is a regional observer programme monitoring bluefin tuna fishing and…

Global
Provision of Observers for UK Flagged Vessels operating in IOTC waters

In order to meet the national requirements set out in IOTC Resolution 11/04 ..."on a…

Indian Ocean
Deployment of international scientific observer for the monitoring of seal moralities on the Falkland Islands loligo squid trawl fishery

MRAG have ongoing private contracts with a number of fishing companies to supply…

Atlantic Ocean
Provision of Scientific Observers for the UK flagged vessels in IOTC waters

A scientific fisheries observer was deployed onboard two UK flagged fishing vessels,…

Indian Ocean
Establishment of a Programme for Transhipment by Large-Scale Vessels in the IOTC Convention Area

The long-term objective of the "Programme  for Transhipment by Large-Scale Fishing…

Indian Ocean
Provision and Management of Observers for the Government of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI)

Each vessel participating in the toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) and…

Antarctic Ocean
MRAG Project Deployment of international scientific observer for the Pesca Chile krill vessels

From 2017, the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI)…

Antarctic Ocean
Implementation of the ICCAT Regional Observer Programme for eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna, 2011-2014

The ROP-BFT is an international observer programme aimed at monitoring bluefin tuna…

Global
Provision of Scientific Observer for the Koryo Maru 11 (2010 to date)

MRAG have provided a CCAMLR Scientific Observer for the longline fishing vessel Koryo…

Antarctic Ocean
MRAG Project Deployment of international scientific observers on the Norwegian krill fishing vessel Saga Sea.

MRAG have been providing observers for AKER BioMarine vessels operating in Area 48…

Antarctic Ocean
Provision of an observer for the Krill Vessel Juvel

MRAG Ltd provide an observer for the Norwegian krill vessel, Juvel operating in Area…

Antarctic Ocean
MRAG Project Ross Sea Observer Programme 2005-06

Provision of CCAMLR International and National scientific observers for two UK flagged…

Antarctic Ocean
MRAG Project Scientific research, fish stock assessment and training of IMBO and MFMR staff and students (WARFP)

The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources had received a loan from the IDA and a…

Africa
British Indian Ocean Territory Inshore Fisheries Management

The inshore fishery in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT, Chagos Archipelago)…

Indian Ocean
Provision of an observer for a St Helena pole and line fishery vessel

The Government of St. Helena requested that MRAG provide and manage an experienced…

Atlantic Ocean
Provision of a Scientific Observer for the krill vessel Antarctic Sea

MRAG Ltd has been asked to provide a scientific observer for the Norwegian Krill…

Antarctic Ocean
South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands Fisheries Management.

The work undertaken by MRAG for GSGSSI comprises general and specific advice on the…

Atlantic Ocean
GSGSSI Annual Agreement on Observer Training Programme

Develop and deliver a training programme for 20 scientific observers to be placed on…

Atlantic Ocean
GSGSSI Annual Agreement on Deployment of Observers

Each vessel participating in the Dissostichus eleginoides and

Atlantic Ocean
Indian Ocean Bycatch Observer Programme

Some Indian Ocean tuna fisheries, mostly those classified as artisanal are currently…

Indian Ocean
Establishment of a Programme for Transhipment by Large-Scale Vessels in the Convention Area of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)

The long-term objective of the Programme for Transhipment by Large-Scale Fishing…

Indian Ocean
Provision of a Scientific Observer for the Krill vessel Thorshøvdi

MRAG Ltd were contracted to provide a CCAMLR Scientific Observer for the Norwegian…

Antarctic Ocean
Marine Mammal and Seabirds Observation for Survey of North Falkland Basin

MRAG provided observers for marine mammal observations and seabird surveys carried out…

Atlantic Ocean