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Northeast Groundfish Monitoring Program

The New England Fishery Management Council has taken action to change the groundfish monitoring program as part of Amendment 23 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. 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 took final action on Amendment 23 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan to revise the groundfish monitoring program.

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 revises the program 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.

The alternatives selected by the Council and related analyses are contained in the Amendment 23 Final Environmental Impact Statement

Implementation Outreach

NOAA Fisheries is planning a series of webinars in Spring 2022 to present the Amendment 23 measures in the proposed rule and to answer questions.  More information about our implementation outreach plan and the webinars will be available on our events page.

NOAA Fisheries held a webinar for the public about implementation of Amendment 23 of the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan on October 12, 2021. During the informational webinar, NOAA Fisheries staff presented information about the new Maximized Retention Electronic Monitoring model, implementation decisions made to date, a timeline for additional implementation decisions, and our outreach plan to engage constituents in collaboratively planning implementation details. A recording of the presentation is available here.

Amendment 23 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 Upcoming Actions
March 30, 2022 The comment period for the Amendment 23 proposed rule closes on March 30, 2022.
April 14, 2022 NOAA Fisheries makes a final decision on Amendment 23.
Spring 2022 NOAA Fisheries holds a webinar series presenting the measures included in the proposed rule for Amendment 23.
2022 NOAA Fisheries publishes the final rule for Amendment 23 as soon as possible after the decision date.

 

Date Past Actions
March 15, 2022 The comment period for NOAA Fisheries' Notice of Availability for Amendment 23 closed on March 15, 2022.
February 28, 2022 NOAA Fisheries published the Proposed Rule with implementing regulations for Amendment 23.  The comment period is open from February 28 through March 30, 2022.
January 21 - February 22, 2022 The Environmental Protection Agency published a Final Environmental Impact Statement and Notice of Availability for Amendment 23.  The comment period for the Notice of Availability was open from January 21 through February 22, 2022.
January 14, 2022 NOAA Fisheries published the Notice of Availability for Amendment 23 to solicit comments on the Amendment.  The comment period is open from January 14, 2022 through March 15, 2022.
January 3, 2022 The Council 'deemed' the draft implementing regulations as accurately reflecting the Council's intent.
November 17, 2021 NOAA Fisheries sent draft regulations fo the Council for review.
August 9, 2021 The Council made a final submission of its Final Environmental Impact Statement and Amendment 23 to NOAA Fisheries.
April 30, 2021 The Council made a preliminary submission of the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Amendment 23 to NOAA Fisheries
September 29-October 1, 2020 During its September meeting, the Council made final decisions on alternatives to be included in Amendment 23. The Council also voted to submit the EIS to NOAA Fisheries.
March 20-August 31, 2020

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Amendment 23 was open for public comment, and the comment period closed on August 31. Please see the Council’s Notice of Pubic HearingPublic Hearing Document and virtual public hearing guide for more information. 

June 23–25, 2020 The Council held its June meeting remotely via webinar. The Council voted to take final action on Amendment 23 at the September Council meeting and requested that NOAA Fisheries synchronize the comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement with the public hearings.
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. 
August 26, 2020 The Council held an outdoor in-person public hearing to solicit comments on the range of alternatives under consideration for Amendment 23. This public hearing was also broadcast as a listen-only webinar for individuals who could not, or did not want to, attend in-person.
August 10, 2020 The Council held a virtual public hearing to solicit comments on the range of alternatives under consideration for Amendment 23. This public hearing was held remotely via webinar. The geographic focus was on New Hampshire and Maine.
August 6, 2020 The Council held a virtual public hearing to solicit comments on the range of alternatives under consideration for Amendment 23. This public hearing was held remotely via webinar.
July 30, 2020 The Council held a virtual public hearing to solicit comments on the range of alternatives under consideration for Amendment 23. This public hearing was held remotely via webinar. The geographic focus was on Massachusetts
July 29, 2020 The Council held a virtual public hearing to solicit comments on the range of alternatives under consideration for Amendment 23. This public hearing was held remotely via webinar. The geographic focus was on Rhode Island, Connecticut, and the Mid-Atlantic states (New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina)
July 27, 2020 The Council held an online training in order to walk through the steps participants need to know to successfully participate in virtual public hearings and provide oral comments.
July 16, 2020 The Council held a virtual public hearing to solicit comments on the range of alternatives under consideration for Amendment 23. This public hearing was held remotely via webinar. 
July 14, 2020 The Council held an online training in order to walk through the steps participants need to know to successfully participate in virtual public hearings and provide oral comments.
June 10, 2020 The Groundfish Committee met to review public comments and discuss next steps for public hearings and timing for Amendment 23. 
May 21, 2020 The Council held a virtual public hearing to solicit comments on the range of alternatives under consideration for Amendment 23. This public hearing was held remotely via webinar.
May 12, 2020 The Council held a virtual public hearing to solicit comments on the range of alternatives under consideration for Amendment 23. This public hearing was held remotely via webinar.
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. 
March 13, 2020 The Council made the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Amendment 23 available to the public.
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.
January 29, 2020 The Council reviewed Amendment 23 and voted to submit the Draft Environmental Impact Statement to NOAA Fisheries for publication and public comment. 
January 23, 2020 The Groundfish Committee met to review the analyses that were conducted for Amendment 23.

Development of a Communications Plan

Overview 

Discussions about the development of Amendment 23 revealed that industry members wanted 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 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 web page 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 web page 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 web page (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 web page.

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. 

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 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.
  • Resources:
    • We provided sector managers with the Fishing Year 2021-2022 Sector Operations Plan Guidance document in September 2020. This document contains guidance for sectors that wish to adopt EM in their operations plans. 
    • We published a bulletin soliciting fishing year 2022 provider applications in September 2021. Provider applications are due on October 15, 2021. We will broadcast approved provider information once application reviews are complete.
    • We worked with the Northeast Fisheries Science Center to develop an infographic and a fact sheet explaining audit model EM and maximized retention EM.

Actions Under Development

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.

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?

Provide Public Comment on the Proposed Rule

The public comment period for the proposed rule to implement Amendment 23 opened on February 28, 2022. We are accepting comments via our online portal through March 30, 2022.

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

Policy for Electronic Monitoring Cost Reimbursement for Groundfish Sectors (4/2/2021)

Groundfish Amendment 23: Council Adopts 100-percent Monitoring Target; Industry to be Reimbursed if Federal Funds Available (10/6/2020)

Planning Moves Forward for Outdoor, In-Person Public Hearing on August 26 (8/13/2020)

How to Prepare for the July and August Public Hearings (7/13/2020)

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 Fitz-Gerald, 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.

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