March 20, 2017 — SEAFOOD NEWS — The National Marine Fisheries Service announced a 16 percent at-sea monitoring coverage level target for groundfish sector trips in the Northeast for 2017.
This target coverage level is a 2 percentage point increase from the 2016 coverage level (14 percent). The target coverage level is set based on an average of at-sea monitoring data from the past 3 full groundfish fishing years, so the 2017 level is set based on data from the 2013-2015 years.
Federally funded observer coverage provided by the Northeast Fishery Observer Program to meet the Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology requirements will partially satisfy the 16 percent coverage requirement. Sectors will actually pay for at-sea monitoring coverage on less than 16 percent of their groundfish trips, but the total will depend on the SBRM coverage rates. The SBRM coverage rates have not been published yet.
NMFS said the agency expects to be able to reimburse sectors for some portion of their monitoring costs but doesn’t have the information it needs to determine the reimbursement rate. The agency was able to reimburse 85 percent of at-sea monitoring costs in 2016, but expects the 2017 reimbursement rate to be lower.
Certain sector groundfish trips, those using gillnets with 10-inch or greater mesh in Southern New England and Inshore Georges Bank, are also excluded from the ASM requirement due to their low catch of groundfish species. This further reduces the portion of sector trips subject to industry-funded monitoring and better focuses monitoring resources, the agency said in a press release.
This story originally appeared on Seafoodnews.com, a subscription site. It is reprinted with permission.