NPFMC Reviews Observer Program

October 2013 C-1 Observer Program Motion
The Council supports the overall provisions for observer coverage described in the 2014 Draft Annual Deployment Plan and the specific observer advisory committee (OAC) recommendations on page 3-5 of the September OAC report. The Council also recommends continuing the policies that allow vessels to make an annual selection for 100% coverage in the BSAI Pacific Cod fishery, and conditional release of vessels to address space and safety concerns.
The Council requests NMFS consider the suggestions provided on page 6 of of the OAC report regarding how to prioritize deployment of the 14 cameras available in the NMFS electronic monitoring pilot project in 2014.
The Council requests NMFS explore whether allowing clean up IFQ trips in multiple regulatory areas is best addressed through a regulatory amendment to the observer program or the IFQ program.
The Council requests that the tables showing preliminary catch data and data on observer coverage from the B-2 supplemental be updated with the entire 2013 data set and included in the June 2014 program performance review. In addition to these tables should show the percentage of catch observed using these same categories. The methods used to calculate total mortalities of halibut in metric tons should also be reviewed and refined in these tables.
Sentence was added to motion to include comments and requests from the SSC.
Clarified that the EM group will not be formed as it appears the timing is not right.

Points from OAC Meeting pages 3-5
• OAC continues to support the priority of setting a higher selection rate for the PSC-limited fisheries.
• OAC recommends further analysis of the de minimus issue be undertaken to evaluate them.
• OAC recommends that the Council initiate a regulatory amendment to address tender activity.
• Overall, the majority of the OAC supports the 2014 ADP, while continuing to support the need to improve some aspects of the restructured observer program.
• OAC recognizes that the actual sampling rate in the vessel selection pool is a concern
• OAC endorses the alternative salmon genetic sampling approach that is incorporated in the 2014 ADP

Page 6 OAC comments on EM
• Noting the Council’s existing priority for developing EM is the 40-57.5” fleet that is not restricted by PSC limits, these vessels should be the first priority for the 2014 pilot program. Secondary priorities can be determined by seeing how other fleets would match against the pilot program monitoring objectives.
• Focus on vessels that have already been released from the requirement to have a human observer, or go back to the Council’s April 2012 comment letter that linked the release from coverage after random selection to the offer of an EM unit. In this way, the EM program would provide data on vessels that would not otherwise be in the program, rather than reducing the pool of vessels that would otherwise have coverage.
• Get as much utility from the camera units during the year as possible, including deployment on multiple vessels. For example, consider deploying in the small boat Pacific cod A season, until vessels switch to salmon fishing. Need to clarify whether only the 14 vessels identified at the beginning of the year will be placed in the zero selection category, or whether that applies to any vessel on which the cameras are placed during the year.
• Be transparent about the objectives of the 2014 EM pilot program, as a way to determine which are the best vessels to participate. For example, is the objective to observe a vessel that is spending most of its time fishing, in order to assess how a lot of data can be processed; to see how easily (or not) cameras can be transferred among vessels; or to see how physically robust the camera systems are when they are used throughout the year in different weather conditions. Prioritize cameras for those vessels whose fishing characteristics are most likely to achieve the stated objectives.

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Link to OAC minutes Sept 2013 meeting: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc/PDFdocuments/conservation_issues/Observer/913_OACreport.pdf
Link to B-2 supplemental report: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc/PDFdocuments/conservation_issues/Observer/NMFSletter913.pdf
NMFS Letter to Council about EM pilot program
http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc/PDFdocuments/conservation_issues/Observer/EMpilotletter913.pdf
NMFS letter on information requests (council)
http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc/PDFdocuments/conservation_issues/Observer/NMFS_InfoRequestsRpt_913.pdf
2014 draft Annual Deployment Plan:
http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc/PDFdocuments/conservation_issues/Observer/2014AnnualDeploymentPlan913.pdf

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