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Update NOAA Fisheries Observer Waiver Policy

June 29, 2021

Vessels are no longer eligible for release from observer or monitor coverage under the Emergency Rule or regional waiver criteria if a fully vaccinated or quarantined/shelter-in-place observer is available.

On June 17, 2021, NOAA Fisheries announced this updated policy on vessel waivers for observer and at-sea monitor coverage related to COVID-19. Close to 80% of our Northeast observer cadre is fully vaccinated, so we have moved to Phase 3 of the observer redeployment. 

Please reach out to Fishery Monitory Operations staff if you have any questions.


Bridget Harner  - Mid-Atlantic operations specialist; (508) 274-4859

Kristina Thorpe - Northeast operations specialist; (508) 566-5988

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  Have observers received COVID-19 vaccinations?  

A:  Yes, more than 80% of the observer cadre is fully vaccinated.


Q:  Are observers required to show proof of vaccination?  

A:  No, they are not required by NOAA to be vaccinated or to show proof of vaccination.


Q:  Are fishermen required to get vaccinated?  

A:  No, fishermen are not required to get a vaccination. 


Q:  My insurance company has notified me of changes to their COVID-19 liability policies, does this exempt  me from observer coverage?  

A:  Insurance exclusion letters do not waive you from observer coverage requirements. Contact your insurance agent to gather more information.


Q:  I haven’t taken an observer in more than a year, and some of my safety equipment is expired. Who do I contact? 

A: You can contact the USCG safety examiner in your area USCG Safety Examinations Contact Phone Numbers


Q:  I have questions about observer coverage, who do I contact? 

A:  Contact Kristina Thorpe at (508) 566-5988 for Northeast questions (Maine to New York) and Bridget Harner at (508) 274-4859 for Mid-Atlantic questions (New Jersey to North Carolina). 


Q: Where can I find information about the COVID-19 safety measures observers are taking?  

A: Each provider has a plan. You can access them here:


Last updated by Northeast Fisheries Science Center on March 09, 2023