Lead Level 2 Observers
The Council selected a preliminary preferred alternative in an analysis to address the potential for a shortage of fixed-gear lead level 2 (LL2) observers for deployment on freezer longline vessels. 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 preliminary 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 up the number of eligible observers available to deploy on freezer longline vessels, while ensuring that the vessels continue to be monitored by experienced observers. The Council also expanded the application of these alternatives to all fixed gear vessels that have a LL2 requirement.
Staff contact for observer issues is Diana Evans.
Observer Partial Coverage Selection Rates
In October 2016, the Council highlighted its concern about the low 2017 partial coverage observer selection rates, and requested that NMFS begin to consider approaches to address them. During staff tasking at this meeting, the Council expanded on that request by establishing a Council process to develop options to increase observer coverage rates, through the Observer Advisory Committee. The Council noted that the schedule for providing input to the statement of work for the next partial coverage observer provider contract is set, and therefore any recommendations that should be reflected in the contract need to be developed before October 2017. The Council requests that recommendations focus on increasing economic efficiencies in the partial coverage program, making operational changes that increase the utility of current coverage levels, and increasing revenues for funding the program.
Vacancies on the OAC
The Council is looking to fill vacancies on its Observer Advisory Committee (OAC). In particular, the Council is interested in appointing an active observer, and will also consider individuals with expertise in CDQ fisheries and/or processors. Interested persons should contact Diana Evans at the Council office by May 10, ideally with a view to being able to attend the next OAC meeting in Seattle, May 23-24, 2017.