The Council conducted an initial review of a draft analysis to integrate Electronic Monitoring (EM) on Pollock Catcher Vessels using Pelagic Trawl Gear and Tender Vessels in the North Pacific Observer Program and recommended releasing the analysis for final action. The Council selected Alternative 2 as the preliminary preferred alternative which would implement EM on pelagic trawl pollock catcher vessels and tenders delivering to shoreside processors in the Bering Sea (BS) and Gulf of Alaska (GOA). After receiving the Trawl EM Committee report from its review of the analysis in May, the Council supported the Committee recommendations and specifically recommended additional information on four issues be included in the analysis to help guide final policy decisions for the program. This information is in addition to, not in place of the existing information in the document and does not signal specific policy direction.
- Using the partial coverage 1.65% fee to pay for EM equipment, service, and maintenance costs for vessels that do not participate in other trawl catch share programs with an EM option. This would apply to vessels that only participate in the GOA fishery and would be consistent with the funding mechanism of the fixed gear EM program.
- Use of the partial coverage 1.65% fee to pay for housing and food for shoreside observers during deployments at processors to monitor partial coverage directed pelagic pollock deliveries from vessels using EM. The analysis currently describes these costs as the responsibility of the plants because that is how it has been structured under the exempted fishing permit (EFP), but that may change under a regulated program.
- A threshold approach where vessels that opt into the EM program would be required to participate in the EM program for the range of 25% to 100% of all pollock fishing trips in the GOA during a calendar year. All other trips would be in the observer trip selection pool. This represents a compromise that would allow vessels more flexibility than an annual opt-in requirement and more predictability for the agency than a trip-by-trip opt-in structure.
- The structure for incentive plans that provide incentives to meet specific goals to avoid exceeding maximum retainable amounts and GOA pollock trip limits. These industry-run plans would function similarly to the vessel performance standards that have been utilized in the EFP. Under this model, the Council could set up goals for the incentive plan, receive an annual report and reevaluate every three years.
The Council directed staff to consider and address comments from the SSC to the extent practicable and supported maintaining the current timeline for final action in October 2022.
The Council also passed a motion under the B items to draft a letter of support for National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) EM funding proposals to sustain the final year of the pelagic trawl electronic monitoring EFP as it moves towards a regulated program and to advance new efforts in electronic technologies and monitoring, including:
- A proposal from United Catcher Boats for the Final Year of Pre-Implementation of a Regulated EM Program for Compliance Monitoring in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska Pelagic Trawl Pollock Catcher Vessel Fisheries
- A proposal from Aleutians East Borough for Improving Data Quality through ET Implementation in the Western Gulf of Alaska
- A proposal from Alaska Groundfish Databank for Testing Electronic Monitoring on Trawl Catcher Vessels Participating in the Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Program
- A proposal from Real Time Data for real time electronic logbook data collection and reporting in Alaska’s groundfish and halibut fisheries
Staff contact is Anna Henry.