Training observers for elasmobranch biological sampling (Project 109)
This paper details the activities undertaken on Project 109 since SC17. The work has been limited due to the cessation of observer placement requirements because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the related regional restrictions on international travel that have presented the face-to-face training necessary to undertake the work. Following recent regional decisions scheduling the recommencement of observer coverage, and the relaxation of many regional travel restrictions, requests for face-to-face observer refresher training have begun. These will allow practical training such as biological sampling, shark biological sampling to be included. Online observer training material is currently being developed and will support elasmobranch identification, fate, and some background material for biological sampling. A Request for Quotes for a consultancy to develop shark sampling protocols and produce associated training materials has also been drafted and will be released for bids. Resumption of travel to allow observer deployment and face to face training is necessary for Project 109 implementation. We therefore request that a no-cost extension to the project period to the end August 2023 be considered to reflect the challenges in undertaking project activities during the COVID19 global health crisis and anticipated return to normal observer operations, and to allow reporting to SC19.