NOAA Fisheries is issuing a final rule (87 FR 59705, October 3, 2022) in the Federal Register to expand Electronic Monitoring (EM) program regulations to allow vessel operators to use EM on bottom trawl and non-whiting midwater trawl trips in the West Coast Groundfish trawl fishery. On June 28, 2019, NOAA Fisheries published a Final Rule to implement an EM program in the West Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program (84 FR 31146). This final rule will add EM program regulations specific to the distinct operation of bottom trawl gear and non-whiting midwater trawl gear. NOAA Fisheries is proposing this action in accordance with recommendations by the Pacific Fishery Management Council at its April and November 2017 meetings.
In April and June of 2020, the Council also recommended a range of minor changes to existing EM program regulations established under the June 2019 final rule, which have been incorporated here. These changes will refine and clarify mainly administrative requirements of the EM program, and are intended to ensure the EM program meets both its stated goals and monitoring requirements of the Trawl Catch Share Program.
The Council recommended NOAA Fisheries implement this action to address industry concerns of rising catch monitoring costs, and provide an alternative to human observers that offers more operational flexibility.
Please visit our web page for more information.
Contact Justin Kavanaugh, EM program Coordinator, at (206) 526-4140.