The Council took final action to recommend a regulatory change expanding the ways that an eligible observer can qualify to become a fixed gear lead level 2 (LL2) observer. This action is intended to address the potential for a shortage of fixed-gear LL2 observers for deployment on freezer longline vessels, or other fixed gear vessels with a LL2 requirement. The majority of freezer longline vessels operate under monitoring requirements that require them to have at-sea scales and carry a single LL2 observer onboard at all times when the Pacific cod fishery is open in the BSAI. Vessel owners and observer coverage providers have reported challenges with LL2 observer availability, the consequence of which can be that the vessel has to delay fishing (with attendant cost).
The Council’s preferred alternative would allow sampling experience on trawl catcher processors to count toward qualifying for a fixed gear LL2 endorsement, with the addition of a fixed-gear-specific training class. This alternative would open the number of eligible observers available to deploy on freezer longline vessels, while ensuring that the vessels continue to be monitored by experienced observers. Staff contact is Diana Evans.