Council letter and NMFS response: Notice of waiver of observer and catch monitor coverage requirements

On April 14, 2020 the Council sent a letter to NMFS requesting a temporary suspension of federally authorized at-sea observer coverage in all West Coast fisheries (including at-sea sectors) and trawl catch share program shoreside catch monitors.  The letter came in response to comments from the Groundfish Advisory Subpanel, individual fishermen, and industry representatives who expressed strong concerns about the increased COVID-19 risk posed by human observers on catcher vessels and catch monitors in processing plants.  On April 15, NMFS responded by temporarily waiving the requirement for commercial fishing vessels and first receivers in west coast fisheries to carry a fishery observer or have a catch monitor. The waiver will be in effect beginning on April 16, 2020 for 14 calendar days. Please review the NMFS response carefully for important details on the temporary waiver.