Beyond the fact that they are the cornerstone of fisheries monitoring, science and sometimes compliance. Most of the accomplished people that I know in Fisheries today, have been at some stage in their careers, Fisheries Observers.
In the Pacific, many times they tend to be the pride of their families, the 1st to finish high school, the 1st one to be abroad, and so on... also they tend to be a principal earner in their households. Their passing brings massive grief to the family/whanau and community, the fact that there is not a body to bury, nor a particular place to bring closure to their pain, makes the loss even harder to accept.
On top of that, there are complex legal difficulties arising when the disappearance occurs in coastal waters of one country, on a vessel flagged in a Distant Water Fishing Nation, and in most cases, the observer is a contractor to a fisheries body based in yet another different country. Worryingly, it always seems, that for some reason or another, their disappearances never come to any form of legal or emotional closure.
Today I was part of the group that had to communicate the disappearance to the direct relatives of an Observer, the anguish in the mother's eyes will be with me forever. My condolences to the family and my respect to all fisheries observers.