I have just completed my second trip aboard the Maria Marine trawl vessel. It did not take long to reach the fishing grounds, since this vessel usually operates close to the Cape Town coast, South Africa. The weather was near perfect for observation, with mostly sunny days and an average sea-state of three on the Beaufort scale.
As for the crew, they were very accommodating since they knew me from the last trip. So, they were aware of my duties on board as an ATF instructor. This worked in my favour because I had total peace of mind in my duties, helped at times with little reminders of the approximate hauling times and fishing operations. Some of the crew members were interested in the names and identification of the seabirds that are commonly seen during their trawling trips. The skipper asked me about the breeding sites of the albatrosses, which is an indication of how the ATF have managed to create an environment of seabird conservation awareness in this fleet.
I had the pleasure of sharing a cabin with Rudian, a Capfish fisheries observer who is an experienced observer. Although his main task is monitoring the biological fish caught during each trawl, he shared his experiences with me as an observer aboard a fishing vessel during long trips: he frequently remains on board for three to six months. I was impressed by his seabird knowledge, including the significance of using a tori line.