North Pacific Observer Program - Federal Register Rules and Notices
NOAA Fisheries extends this temporary rule (also referred to herein as “emergency action”) to provide it with authority to continue to waive observer coverage requirements. NOAA Fisheries is taking this action to address public health concerns relating to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. The intended effect is to provide the waiver mechanism necessary to respond to the ongoing public health emergency. This action also authorizes NOAA Fisheries to waive some training or other program requirements to ensure that as many observers are available as possible while ensuring the safety and health of the observers and trainers.
Regulations at subpart E of 50 CFR part 679 require that most vessels fishing for groundfish or halibut must carry an observer for some or all fishing activities to ensure the collection of data necessary to manage the groundfish and halibut fisheries.
The Observer Program is an integral component in the management of North Pacific fisheries. The Observer Program has two observer coverage categories: Partial and full. Regulations at 50 CFR 679.51 require vessels and processors in the full coverage category to carry an observer at all times when fish are caught or processed.