North Pacific Observer Program - Federal Register Rules and Notices
NOAA Fisheries issues this temporary rule (also referred to herein as “emergency action”) to provide it with authority to waive observer coverage requirements established in regulations promulgated under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and other statutes, consistent with applicable law and international obligations. NOAA Fisheries is taking this action to address public health concerns relating to the evolving pandemic of Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19). NOAA Fisheries is taking this action to protect public health, economic security, and food security, and to safeguard the health and safety of fishermen, observers, and other persons involved with such monitoring programs, while safeguarding the ability of fishermen to continue business operations and produce seafood for the Nation. 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.