CSFOPCommercial Shark Fishery Observer Program
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CSFOP observers were trained in the following areas: marine safety, sea turtle handling and resuscitation techniques, fishery and biological data collection, biological sampling, and shark and bycatch species identification.
Fishing vessel participation in the CSFOP was voluntary from 1994 to 2001.
In addition to these NMFS mandated requirements, the CSFOP did not deploy observers aboard vessels smaller than 30 ft in length (because of space and safety considerations), vessels operated by a captain or crew known to abuse alcohol or drugs at sea, or other safety issues reported by observers and documented by the CSFOP.
The CSFOP was established in 1994 to help acquire this information, and it has since become one of the largest sources of data available on northwest Atlantic coastal shark resources.
Once the program became mandatory, the pool of vessels available for observer coverage significantly increased, although failure of some fishermen to comply with the observer program requirements (including refusing women observers, failure to notify the CSFOP prior to a BLL trip, and failure to obtain the required vessel safety inspections) kept the number of available vessels at a suboptimal level.