HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

David Kerstetter, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Wayne Law, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Bernhard Riegl, Ph.D.


Commercial pelagic longline fishers within the U.S. Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean are required to report all fishing interactions per each gear deployment to NOAA’s Vessel Logbook Program of the Southeast Fisheries Science Center to quantify bycatch, increase conservation efforts, and avoid jeopardizing the existence of vulnerable species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). To provide additional accuracy, the Pelagic Observer Program (POP) of the SEFSC deploys professionally trained observers on longline vessels to produce a statistically reliable subset of longline fisheries data. A comparison of self-reported (“unobserved”) datasets versus observer-collected (“observed”) datasets showed a general consistency for most target species but non-reporting or under-reporting for a number of bycatch species and “lesser-valued” target species. These discrepancies between catch compositions and abundancies regarding targeted species, species of bycatch concern, and species of minimum economic value can provide insight into increased fisheries regulations, stricter requirements, or additional observer coverage.