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). Staff contact is Kate Haapala: Kate.Haapala@noaa.gov
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), Partial Coverage Fishery Monitoring Advisory Committee (PCFMAC) and a trawl Electronic Monitoring Committee (EMC), to provide the Council with stakeholder advice on the observer program and electronic monitoring.
There are no scheduled meetings for the Council’s monitoring committees at this time.
Formerly known as the ‘Observer Advisory Committee’
List of all Committee Memberships
Partial Coverage Fishery Monitoring Advisory Committee (PCFMAC)
The PCFMAC last met virtually September 16, 2020.
The Council created the PCFMAC in October 2019 to evaluate options to address cost efficiencies and low sampling rates in the partial coverage sector.
Trawl Electronic Monitoring Committee
Formerly known as the ‘Electronic Monitoring Workgroup’
List of all Committee Memberships
Recent Newsletter Articles
- Observer Annual Deployment Plan (12/15/2020)
- Observer Issues (10/20/2020)
- Observer coverage update (6/15/2020)
- Observer Fee Analysis (10/11/2019)
- Observer Program Draft 2020 Annual Deployment Plan (10/11/2019)
- Trawl Electronic Monitoring (10/11/2019)
- Observer Program Annual Report (6/13/2019)
- Observer Fee Analysis (4/12/2019)
- Observer Annual Deployment Plan (12/14/2018)
- Observer Coverage on Vessels Delivering to Tenders (12/14/2018)
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