NOAA Fisheries today announced a plan to cover all at-sea monitoring costs for Northeast groundfish sector vessels in fishing year 2018. NOAA will also reimburse industry for more of their fishing year 2017 of at-sea monitoring expenses, using remaining prior year funds, bringing the total reimbursement for that year to approximately 85 percent.
At-sea monitors participate in a subset of sector trips, sufficient to estimate total catch of quota species kept and discarded. At-sea monitoring helps groundfish sector vessels keep track of where they are in relation to their species-specific quotas during a year, and supports greater flexibility for sector vessels to fish.
“Effective at-sea monitoring is essential to the success and sustainability of this fishery,” said Jon Hare, Director of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center. “This $10.3 million increase from Congress for groundfish at-sea monitoring provides additional economic stability for the sector vessels.”
NOAA Fisheries will cover all costs for at-sea monitoring and data processing in Fishing Year 2018 (May 1, 2018, through April 30, 2019). Funds will also be used to support at-sea monitor training and equipment, to process samples, to continue development of electronic monitoring technologies that may the reduce cost of or improve at-sea monitoring in the future, and to cover agency costs for administering the program.
Any groundfish sector trip beginning on or after May 1, 2018, that was selected for at-sea monitoring coverage is eligible for reimbursement. Using existing funds, NOAA will also reimburse industry for an additional 25 percent of their at-sea monitoring costs in fishing year 2017, bringing the total reimbursement for that year to approximately 85 percent.
Since 2015, groundfish sectors have contracted directly with service providers for monitoring services. Sectors will use a program similar to past years to receive reimbursements for the cost of at-sea monitoring.