At the January 2020 meeting, the Council considered different options to improve cost efficiencies in the partial coverage program and adopted priorities for continued and new work on cost efficiencies in the partial coverage program.
As background, in October 2019, the Council recommended an increase in the observer fee percentage from 1.25% to 1.65% for the partial coverage program, which supports the deployment of observers and electronic monitoring (EM) systems in the commercial groundfish and Pacific halibut fisheries under partial coverage monitoring throughout the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea Aleutian Islands. In conjunction with the fee increase, the Council also emphasized the need to develop cost efficiencies for partial coverage monitoring program.
Staff provided a workplan identifying potential opportunities for continued and new work on cost efficiencies in the partial coverage program, and the Council adopted the following three priorities : 1) ongoing support for the pelagic trawl EM exempted fishing permit (EFP); 2) integration of EM into the overall monitoring of fixed gear, and an evaluation of the baseline observer coverage needed to inform fixed gear EM to obtain average weight data for discards and biological samples. This evaluation should also explore existing data sources, such as surveys, that could provide information on average weight; 3) re-evaluate the different criteria to define the zero selection pool to meet both data needs and improve cost efficiency. If possible, the Council requested these changes be incorporated into the draft 2021 ADP (which will be reviewed by the Council in October 2020).
The Council noted that the pelagic trawl EM EFP has the potential to achieve cost savings that could result in higher coverage rates on other observed (non-pelagic) trawl sectors, and significant industry and staff resources are already dedicated to the pelagic trawl EM EFP. Integrating the fixed gear EM program has the potential to lower the program-wide, per-day cost of the partial coverage program, but overall cost efficiencies will depend on whether EM integration achieves a higher selection rate with a lower daily cost. Finally, re-evaluating the definition for zero selection may achieve cost savings by considering characteristics other than vessel length, such as fishing patterns, and by analyzing the feasibility and logistics of using current year fishing effort to establish the zero selection pool for the following year.
Staff contact is Kate Haapala.