Collecting data on board French tropical tuna purse seiners with common observers: results of Orthongel's voluntary observer program OCUP in the Atlantic Ocean (2013-2017)
In order to comply with the different regulations and commitments requesting the presence of scientific observers onboard French purse seiners, and since it is not possible to embark more than one observer during a fishing trip, ORTHONGEL has implemented since July 2013 a program to optimize the boarding of well-trained scientific observers. This voluntary program OCUP (Common Permanent Unique Observer) is conducted with the Institute for Research and Development (IRD), Oceanic Développement (OD) and several coastal countries. This paper describes the methodology of the program and its main result in the Atlantic Ocean. In the Atlantic Ocean, 43 scientific observers from 6 African countries have been trained as OCUP. Together with 39 French observers from IRD and OD, 37 of these African scientific observers have covered more than 300 trips until September 1st, 2017 and the coverage of the French fleet has reached 100% since 2015. Since 2013, the program has allowed an increased collection of data and provided information on the implementation of best practices aboard French vessels.