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NOAA Fisheries Moves from Paper to Electronic Reporting

October 04, 2021

New requirements for the Greater Atlantic region will improve efficiency and timeliness.

Fishermen with tablet Fisherman with tablet for electronic monitoring. Credit: NOAA Fisheries

NOAA Fisheries is moving away from paper vessel trip reporting requirements in the Greater Atlantic Region. Beginning on November 10, 2021, most fishermen permitted to fish federal marine waters from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to the Canadian border will be required to submit their vessel trip reports electronically. They must be submitted to NOAA Fisheries within 48 hours of the conclusion of a fishing trip. The new reporting requirement applies to all federally permitted vessels except those holding only a permit for American lobster.

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Clam vessel at dock
A clam vessel based out of Gloucester, MA. Credit: Caleb Gilbert/NOAA Fisheries

Both the Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Councils recommended to NOAA Fisheries that federally permitted commercial fishing vessels submit vessel trip reports electronically. Upon request of the New England Council, we are also extending this requirement to vessels issued for-hire (charter/party) permits for New England Council-managed fisheries (i.e., Northeast multispecies). Vessels issued a Mid-Atlantic Council for-hire permit have been required to submit vessel trip reports electronically since March 2018. This action is intended to increase data quality and timeliness of vessel trip reports.

Smooth Transition to Electronic Reporting

Captain Mark Palombo of the F/V Terri Ann out of Sandwich, Massachusetts has been using the new electronic reporting system since 2020. The transition for Mark was not difficult. He notes, “Any one of us technologically challenged people can figure it out.” Mark also found electronic trip reporting made it easier to sell to multiple dealers, track what he did and didn’t sell, and find required reporting information such as stat areas. In addition, electronic reporting gives you the ability to email the report to yourself so you have an electronic record of it. You can use pre-populated fields so you don’t have to look up and enter the same information repeatedly.

Vessel operators need a Fish Online account to use NOAA Fisheries electronic VTR  applications and to view their previously submitted eVTRs. However, they can also use other eVTR applications. We sent letters to vessel operators with instructions on the new eVTR reporting requirement and instructions on creating a Fish Online account online earlier this year. 

How to create a Fish Online account 

Resources for Fishermen

NOAA Fisheries has a wealth of information for fishermen making the transition from paper to electronic reporting. 

We also have a number of detailed tutorials and recordings of previously held training webinars and other valuable information. 

"We know the transition from paper reporting to electronic reporting is going to be a big change for some of the fishing community,” said David Gouveia, Assistant Regional Administrator for the Analysis and Program Support Division. “NOAA Fisheries, in collaboration with the Mid-Atlantic and New England Fisheries Management Councils and the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program have been assisting vessel owners and operators that need more information or technical assistance, and will continue to do so during this transition from paper to electronic reporting.”

If you have additional questions about  electronic reporting requirements in the Greater Atlantic region:

  • Contact the Industry Support Line at (978) 281-9188
  • Contact your local Port Agent