What is the APO?

The Association for Professional Observers (APO) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization whose mission is to strengthen observer programs through advocacy and education. Our goal is to facilitate the exchange of fisheries information while providing an important source of fisheries observer program and fisheries observer data-use information. It is our intention that the results of our activities may encourage the recruitment and retention of professional observers and foster the best quality observer data for the purposes of conservation and the responsible management of marine living resources.

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About Observers

An ‘observer’ is a person who is authorized by a regulatory authority to collect scientific information to assist in the monitoring, compliance and serveillance (MSC) of commercial exploitation of marine resources. The observer must be financially independent of the industry being monitored. Observers generally do not have enforcement powers but their duties often involve the collection of enforcement related information. Observers are tasked with a wide range of duties that are primarily related to commercial fishing, although other industries impacting the ocean environment may be monitored as well. Observers are typically either hired by third party contractual agreements or directly by a government regulatory authority. However, sometimes observers are hired as independent contractors. Regardless of employer, observers generally work independently and unsupervised in an isolated and sometimes contentious environment and a variety of entities may negatively impact their ability to complete their duties. We frequently hear a call for more observer coverage but in order for the coverage to be effective, we must call for more protections to safeguard the observers ability to do their work unhindered by harassment and interference. Please see our open letter to ocean activists and marine conservation groups.


What is our goal?

Our goal is to provide a comprehensive source of information for observers, and the public, on issues related to fishery observer programs. Please see the APO Strategic Plan (2016-2020) and other important documents here.

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