Frequently asked questions

1What is an observer and where do they work?

Observers work on commercial fishing vessels, fish processing factories or dredging vessels to monitor effects of those activities on natural resources. For more information regarding fisheries observers in the United States, visit the National Observer Program's website. In addition, fisheries observer programs occur internationally. Click here for a full listing.

2How can I support the APO?

  • Become a member. Prior experience as an observer is not necessary. We encourage a diverse membership. We also accept volunteer time in lieu of the monetary membership fee.
  • Read and contribute to the Mail Buoy
  • Volunteer

3How are APO dues and donations utilized?

The majority of APO's activities are performed by volunteers; however, there are a few activities which require income:

  • Mail and photocopy services
  • Website hosting and maintenance
  • Travel to conferences, council meetings, etc.
  • Purchasing promotional materials
  • Tax preparation

4How is observer data utilized?

Observer data is utilized by government agency staff, academic scientists and students, non-governmental organizations, the fishing industry and the public. Visit our Observer Data Usage page for an extensive reference list.

5What is the difference between the Association for Professional Observers (APO) and the Seafarer's International Union of North America (SIU-NA)?

Both organizations have complimentary missions. The SIU-NA represents observers employed by 3 of the 5 Observer Providers operating in the North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program for all labor-related issues. For more information on becoming a union member, contact Tracey Mayhew at or call her at (907) 561-4988.

The APO has a wider scope than the SIU-NA in that it is open to the public. The APO regularly communicates through public comment and testimony with government agency staff and scientists.

Become a Member