NOAA Fisheries recently sent Kate Wynne to Senegal to train fisheries observers for NOAA, and meet with Senegalese researchers. The Senegalese have had observers on foreign fishing vessels in their waters for many years, and they believe their presence helps monitor illegal fishing. But they want additional observers on domestic boats, and asked for training for turtle and mammal identification, fish sampling, and marine safety.
For ten days Wynne trained 35 Senegalese observers and one Cameroonian, as well as two graduate students. "It was particularly helpful to have fishery folks from neighboring countries attend to share regional concerns and lay the groundwork for future trainings, perhaps Cameroon," she said.
Observer programs are among the more visible, manageable, and quantifiable means of monitoring fish harvests, documenting previously unreported fishing and bycatch. In addition to improving fisheries management, U.S. Agency for International Development workers at the West African Trade Hub in Senegal believe that having an observer program to verify the origin of fish harvests will benefit Senegalese efforts at marketing "sustainable" fish resources.
NOAA joined forces with the Senegal Ministry of Fisheries to conduct the training. The U.S. Navy provided logistic support and housing on the USS Nashville. The Senegal training session was NOAA's second effort to assist a West African country to promote sustainable fisheries, as mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Wynne trained observers for NOAA in Ghana, in 2008.