Northeast Groundfish Monitoring Program

The New England Fishery Management Council is currently considering changes to the groundfish monitoring program. Find out more about how you can be involved.

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New England Council Evaluating Groundfish Monitoring Program

The New England Fishery Management Council is currently evaluating the groundfish monitoring program and considering changes to improve the monitoring system. Any changes would be put in place through Amendment 23 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan, or a follow-on action.

The current goals of the groundfish monitoring program are to:

  1. Improve catch accounting
  2. Reduce the cost of monitoring
  3. Incentivize reducing discards
  4. Provide additional data streams for stock assessments
  5. Enhance the safety of the monitoring program
  6. Perform periodic review of the effectiveness of the monitoring program

 Amendment 23 would maintain these existing goals, and it would also consider how to better address Goal #1 (improved catch accounting). The objectives associated with this goal are to:

  • Determine total catch and effort, for each sector and the common pool, of target or regulated species
  • Achieve a coverage level sufficient to minimize the effects of potential monitoring bias to the extent possible while maintaining as much flexibility as possible to enhance fleet viability

Check out the Draft Alternatives being considered by the Council, and the Plan Development Team analyses developed in support of this action.

Amendment 23 Development Timeline 

The Amendment 23 development timeline is provided below. This calendar may be changed and updated throughout the development process so check back for updates. You can also check the Council calendar for upcoming events related to Amendment 23 development. 

Date

Past Actions

January 23, 2020

The Groundfish Committee met to review the analyses that were conducted for Amendment 23.
January 29, 2020 The Council reviewed Amendment 23 and voted to submit the Draft Environmental Impact Statement to NMFS for publication and public comment. 
March 6, 2020 Council staff presented a description of the Amendment 23 alternatives that have been developed, as well as the economic impacts of those alternatives, at the Maine Fishermen's Forum.
March 13, 2020 The Council made the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Amendment 23 available to the public.
April 14-15, 2020 The Council held its April meeting remotely via webinar. During this meeting, the Council voted to postpone final action on Amendment 23 until after the June meeting due to ongoing travel restrictions and limitations on public gatherings. The Council agreed to hold two additional webinar public hearings in May, and it agreed to allow the Council's Executive Committee to review the feasibility of conducting in-person public hearings during late spring and early summer. 
April 15, 2020 The Council held the first of several public hearings to solicit comments on the range of alternatives under consideration for Amendment 23. This public hearing was held remotely via webinar. 

 

Date Current Stage
March 20-June 30, 2020 The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Amendment 23 is open for public comment. Please see the Council’s Notice of Pubic Hearing  and Public Hearing Document for more information on how to submit written or oral public comments. Please also see our Draft Environmental Impact Statement participation guide for more information getting involved during the comment period.
Spring 2020 Public Hearings on Draft Amendment 23 Environmental Impact Statement.

 

Date Upcoming Actions
May 12, 2020 Virtual public hearing to solicit comments on the range of alternatives under consideration for Amendment 23. This public hearing will be held remotely, via webinar. 
May 21, 2020 Virtual public hearing to solicit comments on the range of alternatives under consideration for Amendment 23. This public hearing will be held remotely, via webinar. 
June 2020 Groundfish Committe meeting to review public comments and discuss the selection of final preferred alternatives for Amendment 23. 
June 23-25, 2020 New England Fishery Management Council meeting: The Council will discuss a revised timeline for taking final action on Amendment 23. 
June 30, 2020 Last day to submit written public comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Amendment 23. 
Winter 2020/2021* Public Comment Period on Final Amendment 23 Environmental Impact Statement and comment period on Amendment 23 proposed rule.
2021* NOAA Fisheries final decision on Amendment 23 and final rule published.
*Dependent on date of Council final action on Amendment 23.

 

Communications Plan

Overview 

Recent discussions about the development of Amendment 23 have revealed that industry members want more information about our current monitoring system. The groundfish monitoring program is a complex system, and changes to this program have important implications for the industry.

NOAA Fisheries has recently completed interviews and a survey of stakeholders to determine: 

  • What aspects of our current monitoring program, analyses, or processes industry members want more information on.
  • How industry members would like us to communicate with them. Do they prefer workshops, websites, printed materials, question and answer sessions, or another method?

Stakeholder feedback was used to develop a list of action items to improve communication about the groundfish monitoring program and the development of Amendment 23. For more information about the status of these action items, please see the Action Tracking list below. For more information about how we created our strategic communication plan, please see our web story

Action Tracking 

Completed Actions

Develop a webpage dedicated to Amendment 23 that includes links to pertinent Council webpages, Amendment 23 updates, and schedule.

  • Objective: Simplify access to materials. 
  • This webpage will serve as our primary communication platform for Amendment 23, and it will continue to be updated as needed. 

Consider developing a dashboard to track the implementation process of each of the final outreach actions.

  • Objective: Increase agency accountability.
  • This webpage will be updated when the status of an action item has changed, or when new resources become available.

Provide a monthly calendar of all meetings, events, and deadlines for comments 10-14 days prior to the start of a new month.

  • Objective: Simplify information about participation opportunities and development process.
  • Status: A timeline has been added to this webpage (please see above) and events will be updated as needed. Instructions on how to sign up for email updates and/or text alerts about Amendment 23 are provided at the bottom of this webpage.

Develop an Amendment 23 mailing list with a sign-up on the new Amendment 23 web page

  • Objective: Keep constituents up to date on progress with development. Simplify access to materials. Simplify information about participation opportunities and development process.
  • Status: Sign up for Amendment 23 specific email updates and/or text alerts.

Provide a cost-benefit analysis of the options being considered in Amendment 23. 

 

Actions Under Development

Publicly profile or promote fishermen/crews/vessels who are participating in pilots or studies and solicit photographs that showcase EM equipment and real-life implementations.

Develop a transparent process to explain how coverage levels and trip limits are determined annually for the common pool and sectors.

    Provide ample (30+ days) notice regarding coverage levels and trip limits before the season begins.

    • Objective: Improved transparency and clarity about programs, data, and information.
    • One of the Alternatives considered in Amendment 23 would establish a deadline for announcing monitoring coverage levels.

    Provide information to fishermen on potential monitoring services including the type of monitoring (EM/ASM), names of monitoring companies, etc., to consider during the Amendment 23 development process.

    • Objective: Keep constituents up to date on progress with development.
    • When we announce EM standards for 2021 we will announce provider requirements and applications. We will broadcast approved provider information.

    Use flow charts and infographics to break down complex processes or concepts (coverage level methodology, the amendment process, stock assessment methodology, etc.).

    • Objective: Use flow charts and infographics to break down complex processes or concepts (coverage level methodology, the amendment process, stock assessment methodology, etc.). 

    Provide updates and next steps to fishermen after each Council meeting, involve groundfish sectors in Amendment 23 planning efforts by forwarding Council summaries and agendas, and ensure all communications clearly display the deadline for comments and provide ample time for feedback.

    • Objective: Keep constituents up to date on progress with development. Simplify access to materials. Simplify information about participation opportunities and development process.

     

    How do I get involved?

    Email List/Text Alerts

    Sign up for email and text updates for information on upcoming meetings and opportunities for involvement. To sign up for email alerts:

    1. Choose "Email" in the subscription type box, and enter your email address in the email address box.
    2. On the next page, you will be able to choose from several subscription topics. Scroll down to "New England/Mid-Atlantic Updates" and choose "Groundfish Amendment 23 Updates." 

    To sign up for text alerts:

    1. Choose "SMS/Text Message" in the subscription type box, and enter your cell phone number in the wireless number box.
    2. Re-enter your phone number on the next page. 
    3. On the next page, you will be able to choose from several subscription topics. Scroll down to "New England/Mid-Atlantic Updates" and choose "Groundfish Amendment 23 Updates." 

    News

    Council Postpones Final Action on Amendment 23 (4/16/2020)

    Groundfish Monitoring Amendment 23: Council Votes to Send Draft Document out for Comment with Preferred Alternatives (2/5/2020)

    Gloucester Daily Times 

    Commercial Fisheries News, NOAA Navigator

    Questions?

    Please contact us with any questions.

    Mark Grant, Amendment 23 Lead, Plan Development Team Member

    Claire Fitzgerald, Amendment 23 Support, Electronic Monitoring

     

    Insight

    Electronic Monitoring Explained

    Successful fisheries management is dependent upon the collection of data from fishing activities. Learn how NOAA Fisheries is investing in technology fishermen use to track their catch.

    electronic monitoring on fishing boat