North Pacific Groundfish Observer


The North Pacific Groundfish Observer database consists of fish, invertebrate, and marine mammal observations collected by fishery biologists while deployed on board commercial fishing vessels or at shoreside processing plants participating in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries. The data are available at OBIS. The OBIS compiled data includes species name, individual count, lat/lon, and some environmental correlates like depth and salinity. 

Dataset Location: OBIS North Pacific Groundfish Observer

Direct Download: OBIS North Pacific Groundfish Observer

Site Location: North Pacific

Site(s) Georeferenced: Yes

Timespan: 1993 - 2004

Sampling Frequency: irregular; 30% of 'small' commercial vessel fishing days, 100% of 'large' commercial vessel fishing days

Data Collection Summary / Methods: Data is collected by professional observers on-board commercial fishing vessels using trawl, longline and pot fishing gear.

"North Pacific groundfish observers are trained to perform a variety of functions including the collection of data on the quantity and composition of catch and bycatch, fishing effort, biological characteristics of catch species, fishery interactions with marine mammals and seabirds, and compliance with federal fisheries regulations." (Sect 4.2 -

Data collected: Each record represents the summary of all the observations made for a given taxa in a given year from each 20km by 20km grid square; counts and weights are statistical estimates.

OBIS data schema: species name, individual count, date, location, temperature, depth, salinity, nitrogen, oxygen, silicate.

Known Issues: Length and otolith sampling protocols were revised in 1999 to reduce sampling time required and improve spatial distribution of sampling (

Best Practices: tips for separating the wheat from the chaff
Conditions for use: 'freely available' and 'open-access' as per OBIS:

Citation/ Distributing Author: North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program, Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Supplemental resources: National Groundfish Observer Program -

FAO report "Catch monitoring by fisheries observers in the United States and Canada" -

Barbeaux et al 2005, "Evaluation of Biological Sampling Protocols for At-Sea Groundfish Observers in Alaska" -

Available via the EcoData Retriever: No

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