Federal fishery managers meeting through Oct. 8 in Anchorage will take final action on the Steller sea lion environmental impact statement and Gulf of Alaska trawl data collection. Also on the agenda before the North Pacific Fishery Management Council are the 2014 deployment plan for the observer program and a discussion on electronic monitoring.
The council is scheduled to begin discussion today on the contentious observer program, with a review of the draft 2014 annual deployment plan, to provide the National Marine Fisheries Service with recommendations for the final plan.
James Balsiger, administrator for the Alaska region for NOAA Fisheries, has advised the council that in 2014 NMFS has the capacity to deploy electronic monitoring on 14 vessels under the NMFS pilot project.
Among those who submitted written testimony on the observer program is the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, which recommends prioritizing coverage on the Gulf of Alaska trawl fleet “to achieve a level of coverage that will provide confidence in prohibited species catch estimates and reduce the opportunity for observer bias.” AMCC also recommends initiating a regulatory process to ensure that vessels delivering to tenders are being observed at a comparable rate to those delivering shoreside adopting a salmon sampling program for the Gulf of Alaska trawl fisheries, and prioritizing development of an electronic monitoring option.
“Electronic monitoring is a critical component of the observer program,” said Kelly Harrell, executive director of AMCC, in written testimony. “The lack of an EM option continues to be a significant deficiency, and it’s critical that we prioritize development of electronic monitoring as a viable alternative to meet at-sea monitoring requirements.
The meeting agenda is online at www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc. Listen live to the meeting in session at the Anchorage Hilton at https://npfmc.webex.com/mw0307l/mywebex/default.do?siteurl=npfmc