On November 2, 2022, NOAA Fisheries announced that the industry-funded monitoring (IFM) program in the herring fishery would be suspended starting on April 1, 2023. Therefore, beginning on April 1, 2023, NOAA Fisheries will no longer select VMS-declared herring trips for IFM coverage. Additionally, NOAA Fisheries will no longer administer the herring electronic monitoring (EM) and portside sampling exempted fishing permit (EFP) for herring vessels. The herring IFM program will remain suspended until federal funding becomes available to cover NOAA Fisheries’ cost responsibilities associated with administering the program. Should such federal funding become available, NOAA Fisheries will work with the New England Fishery Management Council to evaluate how and when to resume the IFM program, and future decisions about the timing of the program will be announced before coverage resumes.
Notification and Monitoring Requirements for Herring Vessels
Herring vessels must continue to comply with the notification, reporting, and monitoring requirements for the fishery while the IFM program is suspended. This includes, but is not limited to, the requirement to notify NOAA Fisheries via the pre-trip notification system (PTNS) at least 48 hours prior to beginning any trip to be considered for SBRM coverage. Herring vessels are required to carry a Northeast Fishery Observer Program (NEFOP) observer on trips that are selected for SBRM coverage, unless NOAA Fisheries issues the vessel a coverage waiver for that trip.
Fishing in Groundfish Closed Areas with Midwater Trawl Gear
Since July 1, 2021, herring vessels have had the option to pay for supplemental observer coverage (or portside sampling coverage, for vessels enrolled in the herring EM EFP) in order to fish inside of groundfish closed areas with midwater trawl gear. However, the option to pay for supplemental observer coverage in order to access groundfish closed areas will no longer be available while the IFM program is suspended. Therefore, beginning on April 1, 2023, vessels may only fish with midwater trawl gear inside groundfish closed areas on herring trips if the following criteria are met:
- The vessel declares its intent to fish in groundfish closed areas
- The trip is assigned SBRM coverage in PTNS
- The vessel carries a NEFOP observer on the trip
If all the above criteria have been met, vessels may fish with midwater trawl gear on herring trips in the following groundfish closed areas:
- Cashes Ledge Closure Area
- Western Gulf of Maine Closure Area
- Closed Area 1 North (February 1 - April 15)
- Closed Area II
For maps, coordinates, and more information about these closed areas, please visit our groundfish closed areas webpage.
On February 17, 2022, NOAA Fisheries announced our approval of four companies to provide IFM services to herring vessels during IFM years 2022-2023 (April 1, 2022 - March 31, 2024). Because the herring IFM program will be suspended starting on April 1, 2023, the herring fishery will no longer require IFM services from providers during IFM year 2023 (April 1, 2023 - March 31, 2024). Therefore, herring vessels will not need to contract with approved providers to secure IFM coverage and approved providers will not need to provide IFM services for the herring fishery during IFM year 2023.
This bulletin serves as a Small Entity Compliance Guide, complying with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.