Observer program review this week
June 5, 2014
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – The expanded observer program’s first annual report is revealed this week. More after this —
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A report on the first full year of the expanded observer program is a highlight of the North Pacific Council’s meeting going on now through June 10th in Nome. In January 2013 the restructured program was put in place to include all groundfish fisheries, including for the first time the halibut longline fleet and boats under 60 feet.
The three main goals are being accomplished so far. Reduce bias by randomly selecting when vessels or trips were observed. Second f – to fill data gaps – there were a number of fisheries, particularly the smaller boat fisheries we had never observer before and also because of bias we did not have the kind of coverage we wanted on some of our other fisheries, like shallow water trawl flatfish in the Gulf — and also to distribute costs among all the participants who are benefitting from the observer information.
Glenn Merrill is the Assistant regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries in Juneau. A first preliminary report last November showed high levels of discards by the hook and line fleet during the first eight months of the observed fishery.
The category with the most new coverage and information was the catcher vessel hook and line in the Gulf of Alaska — in that fishery we did see some substantial discards in those fisheries compared to some other gear types — in the skate fisheries, rockfish, shark and halibut discards in the directed halibut fishery in particular – that we didn’t have information on before.
Only 7 percent of all longline fishing trips were observed. When catch percentages were extrapolated over the entire fleet, halibut discards totaled more than 20 million pounds, three million pounds of P-cod and five million pounds of skates.
That is the actual metric tonnage directly observed on the catcher vessel fleet directed halibut, sablefish and pacific cod fisheries.
You can tune in live to the Council meeting.
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