2014: Final preferred alternatives developed

In April 2014 the Council heard an update on the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission study on electronic monitoring, received a new draft analysis of alternatives, and reviewed exempted fishing permit (EFP) applications. The Council approved preliminary EFPs and asked that applicants consider resubmitting applications in June with certain alternations, mainly limiting the number of vessels involved and requiring up to 100 percent observer coverage. The Council also requested that the EFPs address how halibut viability assessments could be conducted without human observers, with the intention that halibut retention not be permitted.

In May 2014 the groundfish electronic monitoring committees met to discuss initial program alternatives and options that had been adopted for analysis. The Groundfish Electronic Monitoring Policy Advisory Committee (GEMPAC) revised and added some options for further Council consideration.

In June, the Council reviewed the draft analysis and modified some of the regulatory options. The Council also received four revised EFPs and recommended that National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) implement them for the whiting midwater trawl, non-whiting midwater trawl, fixed gear, and bottom trawl fisheries in 2015 and 2016. Specifically, the Council recommended the electronic monitoring EFPs be issued to test electronic monitoring in the fisheries on in limited capacity with some additional permit conditions.

In September 2014, the Council reviewed the draft analysis for regulatory development of the electronic monitoring program. It included the new options added by the Council in June. The Council reviewed the GEMPAC report and other advisory body reports, and picked its final preferred alternatives for an electronic monitoring program for all groundfish fisheries operating under the trawl catch shares program, contingent on review before final implementation.

To preserve the conservation and accountability aspects of the individual fishing quota program, the Council told NMFS that the electronic monitoring program must accurately capture discard events (i.e., whether discard has occurred), amount of discard (i.e., volume in weight and size of individual fish), disposition of discard (i.e., consider providing survivability credit for released fish, such as halibut), and rare events (e.g., catch and discard of rebuilding rockfish, by species).

In developing performance standards and accountability measures, the Council recommended NMFS consider the economic incentives to misreport or underreport catches and mortalities of overfished rockfish and Pacific halibut.

The Council noted that adequate enforcement, with strong consequences in place for violations, was key to success in ensuring compliance with the electronic monitoring program.

The preferred alternatives and options were tested using the EFPs. Testing began in the spring of 2015 and continued through 2018.

2013: GEMPAC and GEMTAC created, alternatives developed

In 2013 the Council continued to consider the use of electronic monitoring for the trawl catch share program.

The Council decided the program would focus on monitoring the compliance required for individual accountability of catch and discard, as opposed to biological data collection or other scientific monitoring (such protected species interactions).

In April, the Council adopted regulatory objectives, reviewed a 2012 electronic monitoring field study report by Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, and approved recommendations for the 2013 field study. The studies focused on comparison of video and human observer data on retained and discarded catch.

In May, NMFS released its policy for Electronic Technologies and Fishery Dependent Data Collection.

In June, the Council established the Groundfish Electronic Monitoring Policy Advisory Committee (GEMPAC) and the Groundfish Electronic Monitoring Technical Advisory Committee (GEMTAC) to focus on developing alternatives and options for electronic monitoring. The Council established a timeline for considering electronic monitoring, reviewed a white paper on performance standards for an electronic monitoring program, and received a final 2012 field study report from PSMFC.

In August, both of the committees met to further the Council scoping process. The GEMPAC developed a draft set of electronic monitoring program alternatives for the Council’s consideration in September 2013. At the same meeting, the Council asked the GEMPAC to continue developing alternatives. Specifically, the Council asked the GEM Committees to discuss a “phased-in” approach for electronic monitoring, starting with midwater trawl and fixed-gear fisheries, with a separate phase for bottom trawl fisheries. The Council also asked the committees to discuss the use of data logger systems, to discuss alternatives for an electronic monitoring program that includes species that may be discarded under maximize retention fisheries, and to explore ways to minimize discards for safety reasons.

The committees met again in October. The GEMPAC refined the draft alternatives and developed a report with recommendations for Council consideration in November 2013. At that meeting, the Council received a draft set of alternatives for an electronic monitoring program, revised them as recommended by the Enforcement Consultants, and moved forward with further analysis.

The Council also scheduled consideration of special, out-of-cycle exempted fishing permit (EFP) proposals for electronic monitoring, with maximized retention requirements. The Council announced that it would accept EFP applications at the April 2013 meeting. At the GEMPAC meeting in March, applicants received feedback for refinement of their EFP applications prior to submission to the Council.

2013: Electronic Monitoring workshop meeting materials

The following are the materials distributed from the Council workshop on electronic monitoring for vessels participating in the groundfish trawl catch share program. Download them all as one file.

Workshop Agenda ItemAttachmentTitle
A.2Attachment 1Terms of Reference for the Pacific Council Workshop on Electronic Monitoring for Vessels Participating in the Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program
A.2Attachment 2Proposed agenda, Electronic Monitoring Workshop
B.1Attachment 1Electronic Monitoring in the Shore-Side Hake Fishery 2004 to 2010
B.2.aAttachment 1National Fish and Wildlife Grants, to the Fishermen’s Marketing Association
B.2.bAttachment 1Electronic Monitoring Pilot Study Report for West Coast Groundfish Trawl ITQ Program
B.2.bAttachment 2Introduction to Economic Model and Summary of Monitoring Concepts for the West Coast Groundfish FIQ Program
B.2.cAttachment 1Sea State, February 13, 2013, EM Workshop Presentation Description
B.2.dAttachment 1PSMFC Project – 2012 Season Results
B.3Attachment 1Electronic Monitoring in Alaska – Synopsis for Agenda Item B.3
B.4Supplemental Attachment 1Northeast Region Pilot Program (Melissa Hooper)
C.1Attachment 1 Electronic Monitoring – Background, Purpose and Need, Goals and Objectives
D.1.aAttachment 1Preliminary Thoughts on Observer Functions and the Corresponding Abilities of Electronic Monitoring (Northwest Fishery Science Center (NWFSC) Response)
D.1.b&cAttachment 1Preliminary Thoughts on Observer Functions and the Corresponding Abilities of Electronic Monitoring (Northwest Division Office of Law Enforcement(NW OLE), NOAA General Counsel Enforcement Litigation (NOAA GCEL), and Northwest Region (NWR))
D.1.cSupplemental Attachment 2Legal and Enforcement Considerations
D.2.aAttachment 1Electric Monitoring Strawmen for Consideration
D.2.aAttachment 2Creating an Incentive Based Environment for Good Behavior Consideration of a Cooperative Agreement Program for Furthering Electronic Monitoring Compliance
E.1Attachment 1Pacific States Field Study – Detection of Rare Events
E.2Attachment 1Pacific States Field Study –2013 Study Design
FAttachment 1 DRAFT Possible Regulation Amendment Process for Consideration of Electronic Monitoring
Back-GroundBackgroundElectronic Monitoring Annotated Agenda CCC Meeting – February 21, 2013 Silver Spring, MD [also includes whitepapers]
Back-GroundBackground “Estimating weight and identifying species through electronic monitoring: A preliminary comparison of electronic and observer-based reporting”
Back-GroundBackground Cover letter and Fisheries Monitoring Roadmap
Back-GroundSupplemental Background – News ArticlePress Democrat: Feds see early signs of Pacific fishery recovery
Back-GroundSupplemental Background“A maximized retention and monitoring program for the Pacific whiting shoreside fishery implementing Amendment 10 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan Draft Environmental Impact Statement”


PowerPoint TitlePresented By
Agenda Item B.1: Electronic Monitoring in the Shore-Side Hake Fishery 2004 to 2010Howard McElderrry
Agenda Item B.2.a: Summary of National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Grants to the FMAPete Leipzig
Agenda Item B.2.b: Electronic Monitoring Pilot Studies on Fixed Gear Vessels in Central CaliforniaMichael Bell – Senior Project Director, The Nature Conservancy
Agenda Item B.2.c: Overview of NFWF Grant to Develop Video Monitoring for Full-Retention FisheriesKarl Haflinger, Sea State Inc., and Eric Torgerson, Finsight
Agenda Item B.2.d: 2012 EM Season Results Pacific States Marine Fisheries CommissionDave Colpo
Agenda Item B.3: Monitoring Technology in AlaskaFarron Wallace
Agenda Item B.4: Northeast Region Pilot ProgramMelissa Hooper
Agenda Item D.1.b: Electronic Monitoring – Management Compliance RequirementsColby Brady
Agenda Item D.1.c: Vessel-Based Electronic Monitoring Feasibility Evaluation: EnforcementDayna Matthews
Agenda Items E.1 & E.2: Electronic Monitoring Workshop, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission Field StudyDave Colpo

2012 newsletters

2012 in brief

Salmon. The 2012 salmon season was a good one, with California and Oregon fishermen, in particular, benefiting from higher-than-usual salmon abundance for Sacramento and Klamath River fall Chinook. Strait of Juan de Fuca coho were rebuilt, and a rebuilding plan was adopted for Sacramento River fall Chinook. The Council continued working on an essential fish habitat (EFH) amendment to the salmon fishery management plan, and adopted alternatives for the review. A hatchery program review recommended changes to hatchery practices. A lower Columbia River endangered salmon and steelhead recovery plan was issued.

Groundfish. A review found that the trawl quota share program was meeting many of its objectives. The Council began work on a review of groundfish EFH and adopted phase I of the groundfish EFH report. A workshop was held on reducing barotrauma in rockfish, and the Council began discussing barotrauma mitigation. NMFS allowed a carryover of shorebased groundfish quota from 2011 to 2012. The Council discussed whiting reallocation, electronic monitoring, quota pounds for widow rockfish, trawl gear restrictions, and other topics as part of trawl rationalization trailing actions. A workgroup recommended changes to the biennial groundfish management process. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended mandatory streamer lines for longline vessels to avoid bycatch of birds.

Highly migratory species: The U.S. and Canada failed to agree on an albacore fishing treaty, and scheduled further negotiations. The Council looked into whether changes could be made to the closure dates for or the southern boundary of the Pacific Leatherback Conservation Area to enhance fishing opportunity in the California drift gillnet fishery.

Halibut. In response to unusually high harvests of Pacific halibut off Southern Oregon and Northern California, the Council explored how best to incorporate the area south of the Oregon/California border into halibut management. Halibut discards dropped 87 percent in the limited entry bottom trawl fishery, probably as a result of the catch share program and the use of new halibut excluders.

Coastal pelagic species: The Council reaffirmed its commitment to protect unmanaged forage fish, and explored ways to do so.

Habitat: West Coast states geared up to address marine debris from the Japanese tsunami. The Habitat Committee discussed the Comparative Survival Study in the Columbia river. A draft Fishery Ecosystem Plan was approved.

Admin: NMFS announced a proposal to revise National Standard 1 guidelines. The Council staff began planning the Managing Our Nation’s Fisheries 3 conference, to be held in Washington, D.C. in 2013. The Council commented on the REFI Act, a bill to refinance the groundfish buyback loan.

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2012: Public scoping begins

In November 2012, the Council passed a motion to begin the public scoping process for electronic monitoring. A workshop was held in February, 2013 to begin developing electronic monitoring policy for the trawl catch share program.

In 2012, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission received funds to test the feasibility of using electronic monitoring for catch and discard accounting. The project was meant to address some key questions, including whether video monitoring could be used to effectively track an individual’s catch and discards so they could be debited from a quota account, and how much such a program would cost the industry compared to human observers. For further details, see the PSMFC website.

2011 newsletters

2011 in brief

On March 11, a 9.0 earthquake in Japan led to a devastating tsunami that, apart from wreaking havoc in Japan, caused $48 million in damage to the ports of Santa Cruz and Crescent City. In Washington, the process of removing the Elwha, Glines Canyon, and Condit dams began.

Salmon. Ocean salmon seasons provided both recreational and commercial opportunities coastwide. Greatly improved abundance of Sacramento River fall Chinook fueled the first substantial ocean salmon fisheries off California and Oregon since 2007, and Klamath and Sacramento stocks were officially declared rebuilt. In June, the Council selected final preferred alternatives for de minimis fishing provisions, status determination criteria, annual catch limits, salmon stock classification, and accountability measures.

Habitat and ecosystem. NMFS and the Council finished their five-year review of essential fish habitat for salmon. The Council continued to pursue its Fishery Ecosystem Plan, approving a purpose and needs statement in June and creating an outline for the plan. The Habitat Committee discussed a new Army Corps of Engineers policy on removing vegetation on levees which they believed could have damaged salmon habitat. The Council encouraged the regional marine spatial planning body to include a seat for a Council representative. A DEIS for removing the four lower Klamath dams was released. NMFS provided its first Integrated Ecosystem Assessment report to the Council.

Groundfish. Widow rockfish were found to be rebuilt in an assessment presented in November. The Council adopted harvest specifications and management measures for 2011-2012 groundfish fisheries. The council continued to work on an adaptive management program, trawl/nontrawl allocations, and “safe harbors” from quota share control limits as a follow up to the trawl catch share program. The Council adopted stock assessments for 2013-2014 management; the size of the overfished bocaccio stock was found to be higher than expected.

Coastal pelagic species: The Quinault Indian Nation requested a sardine harvest allocation.

Highly migratory species: An assessment concluded that the albacore stock was healthy, but another assessment found that Pacific bluefin tuna were overfished.

Admin: Mark Cedergreen, Rod Moore and Jerry Mallet left the Council, and Rich Lincoln and Jeff Feldner joined.

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2011: Early exploration of electronic monitoring

In 2011, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) implemented a Council-developed catch share program for the West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl fishery (the trawl catch share program). The program requires that each vessel acquire quota pounds to cover its catch (including discards) of nearly all groundfish species. Exceptions were made for some species that are rarely caught in the trawl groundfish fishery.

The program required some form of at-sea monitoring to ensure that discards are tracked for each vessel, and specified that this be done through 100% at-sea observer coverage. Program participants would be responsible for the full cost of observer coverage, so the industry was interested in finding a less costly way to monitor catch and discards at sea.

Some participants have experienced difficulties in securing observers in a timely or consistent manner, so vessels may prefer the flexibility to turn on an electronic monitoring (or video monitoring) system and leave port immediately instead of waiting for an observer. Such a system would work to monitor compliance with individual fishing quotas. Therefore, electronic monitoring was explored as a flexible and less expensive substitute for human observers in the catch share program.

2010 newsletters

2010 in brief

Salmon: After two years of poor seasons, in 2010 salmon season were opened coastwide. The commercial season in California was very limited, but the recreational season was closer to normal. Sacramento River fall Chinook were listed as “overfished” (although fishing was believed to be a minor factor in the decline). The Council adopted a range of alternatives for Amendment 16 to the salmon FMP (annual catch limits).

Groundfish: Amendment 23 (which responded to the new National Standard 1 guidelines and requirements) was adopted. The Council clarified trawl rationalization regulations and worked on cost recovery and “safe harbors” amendments to the trawl catch share program. The Council adopted a rebuilding plan for petrale sole, and Council staff worked with NMFS to consider ways to improve the biennial groundfish management process.

Highly migratory species: The Council continued thinking about a limited entry program for the albacore fishery. The Council approved Amendment 2 to the HMS FMP (annual catch limits) and made recommendations on proposed leatherback sea turtle critical habitat. The Council also considered trip limit proposals for the Washington state recreational albacore fishery.

Habitat: The Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary updated its management plan. The HC continued to focus on Sacramento River water issues and began discussing the Ocean Power Technologies wave energy park off Reedsport (which was never built). The Council reviewed essential fish habitat for salmon and coastal pelagic species.

Ecosystem: The Ecosystem Fishery Management Plan continued to take shape.

Coastal pelagic species: The Council approved Amendment 13 to the Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery Management Plan (annual catch limits).

Admin: Herb Pollard was appointed to the Council.

Elsewhere, the Gulf states struggled to contain the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the FDA considered approving genetically modified salmon for human consumption.

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