Draft 2017 Annual Deployment Plan for Observers in the Groundfish and Halibut Fisheries off Alaska
This draft 2017 Annual Deployment Plan documents how NOAA Fisheries intends to assign fishery observers to vessels fishing in the North Pacific during the calendar year 2017.
This draft 2017 Annual Deployment Plan (ADP) documents how the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) intends to assign at-sea and shoreside observers and electronic monitoring to vessels and processing plants engaged in fishing operations in the North Pacific. This plan is developed under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI FMP), the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA FMP), and the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982. Details on the legal authority and purpose of the ADP are found in the Final Rule for Amendment 86 to the BSAI FMP and Amendment 76 to the GOA FMP (77 FR 70062, November 21, 2012).
The ADP describes the science-driven method for observer deployment to support statistically reliable data collection. The ADP is a core element in implementation of section 313 of the MSA (16 U.S.C 1862), which authorizes the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) to prepare a fisheries research plan that requires the deployment of observers into the North Pacific fisheries and establishes a system of fees. The purpose of the research plan is to collect data necessary for the conservation, management, and scientific understanding of the groundfish and halibut fisheries off Alaska.
Data collection by observers contributes to the best available scientific information used to manage the fisheries in the North Pacific. Information collected by observers provides a reliable and verifiable method for NMFS to gain fishery discard and biological information on fish, and data concerning seabird and marine mammal interactions with fisheries. Observers collect biological samples such as species composition, weights, and tissue samples and information on total catch, including bycatch, and interactions with protected species. Managers use data collected by observers to manage groundfish catch and bycatch limits established in regulation and to document fishery interactions with protected resources. Managers also use data collected by observers to inform the development of management measures that minimize bycatch and reduce fishery interactions with protected resources. Scientists use observer-collected data for stock assessments and marine ecosystem research. Much of this information is expeditiously available (e.g., daily or at the end of a trip, depending on the type of vessel) to ensure effective management.