Fisheries Observers

We have been providing highly trained fisheries observers for 19 years.

CapFish, as a pioneer in observer programs in Africa, established the national Offshore Resources Observer Program in South Africa, and with CapMarine extended observer capacity to regional programs and services to Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs).

International Observer Programs



Commission for the Conservation  of Antarctic Marine Living Resources

In 1992, CCAMLR implemented an international scientific observation program with the goal of gathering information on marine resources in the Antarctic and assessing the impact of fishing on those resources and other dependent species. Capfish, formed in 1999, has since deployed over 200 observers on vessels fishing for toothfish and icefish in CCAMLR waters, and foreign countries must negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding with the South African government before requesting observers.


Indian Ocean Tuna Commission

Observers are stationed on Carrier Vessels (CVs) to monitor transhipment activities from Large-Scale Tuna Longline Vessels (LSTLVs) as part of a program aimed at combatting Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in the IOTC area. The program, which began in 2009, aims to encourage illegal fishing vessels to operate legally within the IOTC framework, improve the quality and availability of catch data from LSTLVs, and cover 50% of the total deployments in the IOTC area.


International Commission of the Conversation of Atlantic Tunas

ICCAT implemented a Regional Observer Programme (ROP) to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing by placing observers on Carrier Vessels (CV) authorized to receive transhipments from Large Scale Tuna Longline Vessels (LSTLV) in the ICCAT convention area. Observers record the species, number of products transferred, and logistical information of each transhipment, collating this information into a database submitted to the ICCAT Secretariat.

National Observer Programs



The South African Deep-sea Trawling Industry Association

The SADSTIA observer program, which began in November 2005, provides valuable scientific information to support South African hake research and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) requirements. The program has been monitoring between 5 and 10% of the deep-sea hake trawl fleet annually since its implementation.


The South East Coast Inshore Fishery Association

The inshore trawl fleet had observers deployed between 1995 and 2002. The government Observer Program (OROP), ran from that time until 2012. Currently, the industry-funded observer program monitors the impact on seabirds, collects data on target and bycatch species, and in particular, ETP species and vulnerable marine ecosystem (VME) indicator species


The South African Pelagic Fishery Industry Association

The small pelagic sector has been monitored by CapMarine observers since 2002. Observer coverage is approximately 10 to 15 % each year. In addition,  the industry is required to accommodate observers on 25% of trips in the anchovy B-season as well as on 100% of all “voorloper” vessels. Detailed reports are submitted to industry and government each month to supplement the biannual research cruises in the overall management of the resource.

midwater trawl vessel

Mid-water trawl

Horse mackerel – FV Desert Diamond

CapFish/CapMarine was the first service provider to deploy observers on the FV Desert Diamond and designed, trialed, implemented, and ran the Offshore Resources Observer Program (OROP) from 2003 to 2012. After DFFE took over the observations until 2015, CapMarine was again entrusted with the program in 2016, deploying two observers and achieving 200% observer coverage..


The South African Tuna Association

Observers are required on 25% of South African flagged vessels and for 100% of foreign flagged vessels in the pelagic longline fishery, with foreign observers deployed mainly from Cape Town and South African observers mainly from Cape Town and Richards Bay, and a few other locations.


The South African Hake Longline Association

The SAHLLA at-sea observer program aims to provide information on hake catches, catch composition, interactions with ETP species, bird-bycatch mitigation measures, updated bycatch species conversion factors, and comparison of current and historical observer data, targeting 2 deployments or approximately 15 sea days observed per month on 45-50 hake-directed vessels mainly operating from Cape Town and Hout Bay, with a small group operating out of Port Elizabeth and Saldanha Bay