The Council reviewed the Observer Program Draft 2020 Annual Deployment Plan (ADP), received a report from the Fishery Monitoring Advisory Committee (FMAC), and supported NMFS’ recommendations for observer deployment in the partial coverage fisheries in 2020. The Council supported NMFS’ recommendation to not deploy observers into tender-specific strata in 2020, and to instead only deploy observers into strata defined by gear type. This change is not likely to substantially affect realized coverage rates on tendered trips, which will continue to be evaluated separately in the Annual Report. The Council also supported NMFS’ recommendations for the coverage allocation scheme of 15% plus optimized allocation based on discarded groundfish and halibut PSC and Chinook PSC, as described in the Draft 2020 ADP.
The Council reaffirmed its recommendation to NMFS that the EM trip selection pool be increased by 30 vessels, if additional funding is available to purchase and install EM systems. The Council appreciated the addition of a new criterion for prioritizing among vessels opting in if funding is insufficient to accommodate all vessels, namely to prioritize vessels that are unlikely to introduce data gaps. The Council also supports the agency’s planning to accommodate vessels participating in the Trawl EM EFP, should it be approved.
Finally, the Council commended NMFS’ ongoing work to improve observer safety, and made a statement supporting the importance of finding a solution to observer recruitment and retention. During staff tasking, the Council also endorsed the description of the scope and purpose of Council monitoring committees reviewed by the committees, and created a separate Partial Coverage FMAC Committee (comprised of existing FMAC members representing partial coverage fishery sectors) to streamline advice to the Council. The Council also addressed scheduling for upcoming monitoring committee meetings.
Staff contact for observer issues is Kate Haapala.