At the core of the North Pacific monitoring system is a comprehensive, industry-funded, on-board observer program, coupled with requirements for total weight measurement of most fish harvested.
Except for small vessels less than 60 feet and halibut vessels, all vessels fishing for groundfish in federal waters are required to carry observers, at their own expense, for at least a portion of their fishing time.
The largest vessels, those over 125 feet and/or participating in catch share programs, are generally required to carry observers 100% of the time, with multiple observers required on catcher/processors and in certain fisheries. Used in conjunction with reporting and weighing requirements, the information collected by observers provides the foundation for in-season management and for tracking species-specific catch and bycatch amounts.
In October 2010, the Council approved a motion to restructure the observer program for vessels and processors that are determined to need less than 100% observer coverage in the Federal fisheries (Alternative 3), including previously uncovered sectors such as the commercial halibut sector and <60’ groundfish sector, under authority of Section 313 in the USA. The Council recommended restructuring the program such that NMFS would contract directly with observer companies to deploy observers according to a scientifically valid sampling and deployment plan, and industry would pay a fee equal to 1.25% of the ex-vessel value of the landings included under the program. (The Magnuson Stevens Act authorizes collection of an ex-vessel fee of up to 2%.) As all sectors benefit from the resulting data, the Council chose to apply the same fee percentage to all restructured sectors, in order to develop a fee program that is fair and equitable across all sectors in the restructured program.
The restructured program is intended to provide NMFS with the flexibility to deploy observers in response to fihery management needs and to reduce the bias inherent in the existing program, to the benefit of the resulting data. NMFS is currently developing the final rule to implement the Council's recommendations.
Documents and Council Motions
Observer Advisory Committee: June 3-4, 2013, 8am, Juneau, Alaska, NMFS Regional Administrator's Conference Room, 4th Floor, Federal Buildign on Willoughby Ave, Call in line 907-586-7060 AGENDA
NMFS Letter to Council regarding the Observer Program Annual Deployment Plan 12/12
Observer Advisory Committee: September 17-18 2012, AFSC, Building 4, Observer Training Room, Agenda (8/16) Annual Deployment Plan; Presentations: Deployment Plan; Registration; Electronic Monitoring (Falvey) (Wallace) Report
Council comment on proposed rule 5/14/12
NMFS letters on development of electronic monitoring 3/21/12, 5/31/12
NMFS' proposed regulations for impementing the restructured program 4/18/12
Observer Restructuring Motion 10/11
Proposed Regulations for Groundfish Observer Program (Am86-76) 10/11
Proposed Rule to Implement Groundfish Observer Program (Am86-76) 10/11
OAC report,September 2011
OAC report, March 2011
Council motion on restructuring, October 2010; Observer Funding Request, 11/10
Public review draft analysis for observer restructuring, Oct 2010
OAC report Spetember 2010
Letter to NOAA requesting federal observer program funds June 30, 2010
Observer motion, June 2010
Observer Restructuring EA, May 2010, OAC report, 5/10
Observer Advisory Committee Report, January 29, 2010
Observer motion 10/09
Implementation plan for Observer Program Restructuring; OAC report, September 2009
Observer Restructuring Implementation Plan Outline (July 2009)
Electronic Monitoring Workshop 7/08 Proceedings
Observer Program Restructuring 12/08; Letters: NMFS recommendations; Level 2 issues; Observer motion
Observer Advisory Committee Report, March 2008
BSAI and GOA Percent Observed Catch, 2004-2007 5/08
Analysis of Observer Program regulatory changes 4/08, Motion
Alternatives for analysis of Observer Program regulatory changes motion 2/08
Revisions to the Observer Program 1/08
Alternatives for analysis of Observer Program regulatory changes 6/07 Motion
Observer Advisory Committee Report, May 2007
Observer Program Revisions 5/07, 4/07
NMFS Video Monitoring Discussion Paper 6/06