April 29, 2016 — In a victory for groundfishermen, NOAA will significantly reduce at-sea monitoring coverage for Northeast multispecies groundfish vessels in the season that begins Sunday.
NOAA, according to the final rule filed Friday in the Federal Register, will cut monitoring to 14 percent of all vessel trips in 2016, down from about 24 percent in 2015.
The reduction was welcomed by fishermen, particularly following recent federal policy changes leaving permit holders on the hook for the cost of at-sea monitoring. It was a disappointment for conservationists and environmental groups, who were seeking more coverage, not less.
The new rule, known as Framework 55, is expected to be formally published Monday, but will go into effect at the start of the 2016 fishing season on May 1.
“Fishermen appreciate the changes and the evolution of the at-sea monitoring program,” said Jackie Odell, executive director of the Gloucester-based Northeast Seafood Coalition, which strongly advocated for the adjustments to the monitoring program. “We think what they’ve done is prudent and responsible.”