At the core of the North Pacific fisheries management system is a comprehensive, industry-funded data collection and monitoring program that uses onboard observers and electronic monitoring (EM) to collect fisheries catch data. Staff contact is Elizabeth Figus: 907-271-2801, firstname.lastname@example.org
In conjunction with reporting and weighing requirements, information collected by observers and EM systems provides the foundation for in-season management of Federal fisheries off Alaska, including tracking catch and bycatch. In January 2013, a restructured Observer Program was implemented. All sectors of the groundfish fishery, including previously uncovered sectors such as vessels less than 60 feet length overall (LOA) and the commercial halibut sector, are now included in the Observer Program. All vessels and processors in the groundfish and halibut fisheries off Alaska fall into one of two observer coverage categories: (1) full coverage, where vessels must have at least one observer onboard 100% of the time, and (2) partial coverage. In the partial coverage category, NMFS determines when and where to deploy observers or EM according to management and conservation needs, and based on a scientifically defensible deployment plan. Funds are provided through an industry fee equal to 1.25% of the retained value of groundfish and halibut in fisheries subject to partial coverage. More information on the current observer program is also available on the NMFS website’s observer page.
More recently, the Council has developed the use of EM as a tool within the Observer Program. In December 2016, the Council took action to implement EM as a monitoring tool in the partial coverage category for fixed gear groundfish and halibut. The Council authorized cooperative research and EM pre-implementation for longline vessels in 2015, adopted a pre-implementation plan that applied to longline and pot vessels in 2017, and fully implemented EM in January 2018 on 142 fixed gear vessels in the partial coverage category of the North Pacific Observer Program.
The Council has appointed a Fishery Monitoring Advisory Committee (FMAC) and an Electronic Monitoring Committee (EMC), to provide the Council with stakeholder advice on the observer program and electronic monitoring.
The Fishery Monitoring Advisory Committee (FMAC) Subgroup is meeting on the morning of November 19th, in the offices of the International Pacific Halibut Commission, in Seattle (2320 W Commodore Way, Seattle, WA 98199). This meeting will be open to the public.
Trawl EM Committee
The trawl Electronic Monitoring Committee (formerly the EMWG) is meeting November 19-20, in the offices of the International Pacific Halibut Commission, in Seattle (2320 W Commodore Way, Seattle, WA 98199). This meeting will be open to the public.
- AKR Implementation Plan Amendment
- White Paper on discards
- Current Observer Sampling Manual
- Draft data streams paper
- Cooperative Research Plan Outline
- other meeting documents (pending)
Formerly known as the ‘Observer Advisory Committee’
In June 2018, the Council changed the name of the Observer Advisory Committee to the ‘Fishery Monitoring Advisory Committee’ or FMAC. The alteration brings the group name into line with the ongoing and increased focus on EM issues alongside human observer coverage. The role of the group will not change. The FMAC will continue to convene industry members, agency representatives, observers and observer/EM coverage providers to advise the Council on issues specific to all types of monitoring in Alaskan fisheries.
The Council created a FMAC subgroup to meet in the summer of 2017, in order to address the Council’s April 2017 request to evaluate options to address low sampling rates in the partial coverage sector. The Council requested the subgroup continue to meet to review the development of an analysis to adjust the partial coverage observer fee, initiated by the Council in October 2017. The FMAC Subgroup last met September 5, 2018.
The FMAC last met September 13-14, in Seattle. The next meeting is scheduled for December 3, in Anchorage.
Trawl Electronic Monitoring Committee (EMC)
Formerly known as the ‘Electronic Monitoring Workgroup’
The trawl EM Committee provides a space for industry members, agency representatives, and EM service providers to collaboratively design, test and develop electronic monitoring systems to suit the needs of Alaskan fisheries. The Council formed an Electronic Monitoring (EM) Committee under the name ‘EM Workgroup’ in February 2014, to create a forum for EM discussions related to developing EM for fixed gear vessels, and to help develop programs for EM integration in federal fisheries off Alaska. The group has since become the primary tool used by the Council to make consistent and ongoing progress with EM. Between 2014 and 2017, the EM Workgroup focused exclusively on EM development for fixed gear sectors (longline and pot). In April 2018, the EM Workgroup was reconstituted to focus on trawl catcher vessels. In June 2018, the EM Workgroup was re-named the ‘EM Committee’, to reflect its formal status as a Committee under Council protocols.
The EMC last met August 23-24, in Seattle. The next meeting of the EM Committee is tentatively scheduled for November 19-20, in Seattle.
Newsletter Articles (starting in December 2016)
- Observer Program Annual Deployment Plan (10/12/2018)
- Observer Issues: 2017 Annual Report (6/15/2018)
- Electronic Monitoring (6/15/2018)
- Fishery Effort and Observer Coverage Relative to Tanner Crab Distribution in the CGOA (6/15/2018)
- Appointments and Committee Changes (4/12/2018)
- Trawl CVs to Join EM Workgroup (2/20/2018)
- Electronic Monitoring Priorities (2/20/2018)
- Observer Fee Analysis (2/20/2018)
- Final 2018 Annual Deployment Plan (12/14/2017)
- Tendering Scoping Paper (10/17/2017)
Documents and Council Motions
Electronic Monitoring (EM)
2012 and earlier
Development of restructured program, 2008-2012
- NMFS’ proposed regulations for implementing the program 4/18/12; Council comment on proposed rule 5/14/12
- Proposed Regulations and Proposed Rule for Observer Program (Am86-76) (10/11); OAC Report September 2011; Council Motion (10/11)
- OAC Report, March 2011
- Council letter – Observer Funding Request (11/10)
- Public review draft analysis for observer restructuring, (10/10); OAC Report September 2010; Final Council motion on restructuring (10/10)
- Letter to NOAA requesting federal observer program funds 6/30/10
- Initial review Observer Restructuring EA (5/10); OAC Report May 2010; Council motion (6/10)
- Implementation plan for Observer Program Restructuring (9/09); OAC Report September 2009; Council motion (10/09) OAC Report January 2010
- Observer Restructuring Implementation Plan Outline (6/09)
- Observer program restructuring discussion paper (12/08), NMFS letter on recommendations (12/08); Council motion (12/08)
- BSAI and GOA Percent Observed Catch, 2004-2007 (5/08)
- OAC report March 2008