Fisheries off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Electronic Monitoring Program
NOAA Fisheries has issued a final rule that makes electronic monitoring (EM) an option for midwater trawl vessels in the Pacific whiting fishery and fixed gear vessels in the Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) fishery beginning in 2021, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The regulations establish standards and requirements for vessel owners and operators using EM, processors receiving catch from EM trips, and EM service providers. Participating vessel operators will self-report discards using logbooks, which will be audited using the EM data, and used to debit discards of IFQ species from a vessel owner’s IFQ account or a cooperative’s allocation. Video data would also be used to monitor compliance with the requirements of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery's Trawl Catch Share Program, also called the Trawl Rationalization Program.
At its September 2021 meeting, the Pacific Fishery Management Council recommended NOAA Fisheries delay implementation of EM program regulations until January 1, 2024.
The final rule and accompanying analyses are provided below.