A Scientific Observers work is unsupervised and extremely demanding. To succeed, observers must have a high degree of personal integrity and stamina. In order to achieve their objectives the observer needs to have a biological background and a basic knowledge and understanding of fisheries related terminology. All CapFish observers must also pass a standard marine medical before going to sea. CapFish accepts applications for Observers with sea-going experience and tertiary qualifications. We also consider good applicants with Matric passes. Good mathematical ability is essential and candidates are expected to pass a basic exam that includes mathematics, writing skills and logic before they are considered further. An essential component of the observer’s initial training includes an internationally recognized safety and survival-training course normally done at the Cape Technikon Survival Center or other available facility. This includes a first-aid and fire-fighting course. This will prepare them if there is an emergency at sea to understand and follow the correct international procedures.

Once accepted, CapFish provides initial in-house personalized training for all our fisheries and marine observers. Advanced training is given as observers move between fisheries sectors (trawl, longline, rock lobster trap, purse seine etc) and gain experience. Our observers are trained in navigation, communication and scientific sampling methods and includes the following:

  • The role of the Observer and Observer Protocols
  • Ship layout and terminology
  • Fishing methods and related equipment
  • Onboard data collection for catch and effort data
  • Fish sampling methods
  • Identification of commercial fish species and the main by-catch species caught per fishing sector
  • Basic Meteorology
  • Navigation and navigational aids
  • Interactions with other marine fauna such as s
  • Sea birds, seals and cetaceans (whales and dolphins)

As the Observer matures in his career, advanced training is given in Fish biology, Sea Bird identification, Marine Mammal identification (for seismic surveys in particular), Crustacean Biology, resource allocations and permit conditions, fisheries compliance, fisheries management and basic stock assessment. Good Observers may also progress to become International Observers working closely with Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) or Marine Mammal Observers (MMO).