Observer Program Draft 2021 Annual Deployment Plan
The Council reviewed the Observer Program Draft 2021 Annual Deployment Plan (ADP), received a report from the Partial Coverage Fishery Monitoring Advisory Committee (PCFMAC), and supported NMFS’ recommendations for deploying observers and electronic monitoring (EM) on groundfish and halibut vessels in the partial coverage fisheries in 2021. Specifically, the Council supported NMFS’ recommendation to continue to utilize a port-based approach for partial coverage observer deployment, consistent with the redesigned 2020 ADP that is responsive to COVID-19 impacts on monitoring. 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 2021 ADP. Observer coverage rates resulting from this approach and the final budget will be available in the final 2021 ADP in December.
NMFS reported that funding is sufficient to maintain the current fixed gear EM selection pool of 169 vessels in 2021. The Council supported NMFS’ criteria to determine new potential participants in the fixed gear EM pool if funding is insufficient to accommodate all new requests.
Finally, the Council recommended NMFS develop an abbreviated 2020 Observer Annual Report and requested an updated timeline for cost efficiency analyses consistent with its adopted priorities from January 2020. These priorities include integrating fixed gear EM into the determination of observer baseline coverage, a re-evaluation of the zero-selection pool, and re-evaluation of the bias metrics. The PCFMAC will meet in Spring 2021 to review work on these analyses prior to the annual FMAC meeting.
Staff contact is Kate Haapala.
The Council received a report from the Trawl EM Committee, reporting on progress with using electronic monitoring (EM) in pollock trawl fisheries in the BSAI and GOA in 2020. The Council continues to support the trawl EM development work, and the schedule that targets implementation of EM as a regulatory alternative for monitoring in the pollock trawl fisheries by 2023. As such, the Council supports extending the EFP, which is currently set to expire in 2021, through 2022, and supports industry efforts to seek out funding to support development work in 2022. The Council intends to review a regulatory analysis for implementing EM for the trawl fisheries next year, with the Trawl EM Committee continuing to track ongoing fieldwork and the development of analytical options during that time.
In the Trawl EM Committee report, the Council also received recommendations to NMFS for updates to the Draft NMFS Alaska Regional Electronic Technologies Implementation Plan update for 2020-2024, which is under preparation. The Council will review an updated version of this document in February 2021.
Staff contact is Anna Henry.