The Observer Program provides fisheries managers, research organisations, environmental agencies, the fishing industry and the wider community with independent, reliable, verified and accurate information on the fishing catch, effort and practice of a wide range of boats operating inside, and periodically outside, the Australian Fishing Zone.

The Observer Program places AFMA trained Observers on domestic and if required, foreign boats fishing within the Australian Fishing Zone and some adjacent high seas areas under international arrangements.

Each year the requirements and priorities for the Observer Program are determined by AFMA after consultation with the relevant Management Advisory Committees and Resource Assessment Groups, so that timing and spacing observer coverage is proportional to fishing effort within and across fisheries.