NOAA awards USD 50 million Northeast Fisheries Observer Contract to AIS Inc.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on 11 June that Marion, Massachusetts, U.S.A.-based AIS Inc. has been awarded a five-year, USD 50 million (EUR 42.4 million) contract to provide fisheries observers for federal monitoring programs. 

The contract will cover an area on the U.S. East Coast from Maine to North Carolina. AIS previously held the same contract from 2002 to 2012, and supported the contract beginning in 2016.

“We’ve been actually doing the Northeast section of the contract since October 2016,” AIS Senior Vice-President Rick Usher said.

Fisheries observers work on-board vessels alongside fishermen during trips. They collect information on catch, both kept and discarded, as well as biological data and information on gear and fishing operations over a range of commercial fisheries.

“These data are used extensively by researchers and fishery managers to better understand the condition of fishery stocks, fishing businesses, and fishing operations,"  NOAA wrote in a release announcing the contract.

Typically, the observers are provided with living quarters, food, and amenities comparable to crew on board the ship as they observe the operation to collect unbiased data. 

“Good data prevent overregulation and ensure the sustainability of our fisheries and the observation of protected species populations,” NOAA said. 

Usher said AIS is already working hard after the announcement in order to fulfill the responsibilities the contract entails. 

“We’re excited, and we’re building our cadre, we’re going to open an office in the mid-Atlantic to support it,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll have up to 85 observers in the field.”

Usher said developing good contacts and relationships with fishermen will be a key component of their plan going forward. 

“We’ve developed a plan, and we’re implementing it,” he said. “We’ve done it before, and it’s a lot of work right now, so that’s our focus; to get up to full speed as fast as possible to support our customer.”

Photo courtesy of NOAA


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