NOAA Awards Marion Company $50M Contract to Provide Fishery Observers

HYANNIS – A company headquartered in Marion, AIS Inc., has been awarded a $50 million contract to provide fisheries observers for federal monitoring programs in the Northeast region.

During commercial fishing trips, the observers collect information on kept and discarded catch, along with biological data and information on gear and fishing operations.

“Primarily what they are intended for is to make sure we get a good estimation of not only what is landed, but what is discarded during fishing trips and that allows us to do an estimate of total catch removals as opposed to just looking at landings,” said Teri Frady, the Chief of Research Communications for NOAA Fisheries Service.

The data that is collected through the Northeast Fisheries Observer Program is used by researchers and fishery managers to better understand the condition of fishery stocks.

“This particular program also collects data on fishing operations, a little bit on fishing business, which gives us some information to try to figure out how proposed management measures for example may affect businesses,” Frady said.

The observers have specialized training and most have a scientific background and have conducted laboratory or field work.

“They are familiar with what is required to collect the data that we need,” Frady said. “They also get specialized training on working on fishing vessels.”

Observers are then deployed by AIS according to a schedule of sea days laid out by NOAA Fisheries.

The contract with AIS begins on July 1 and lasts for five years. Under the contract the company will cover fisheries from Maine to North Carolina.

AIS is an experienced fisheries observer service company and employs observers to monitor federal fisheries along the U.S. East Coast and in Alaska.

NOAA Fisheries covers all costs for the Northeast Fisheries Observer Program, trains and certifies observers and handles the data that they collect.

The Fisheries Sampling Branch at NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Fisheries Science Center will manage the contract.