Industry Funded Monitoring Amendment Public Comments

fisheries-observer-e1475938712202This is the comment portal for the industry funded monitoring amendment. It’s only open until Monday, so we need to get comments in quickly. The omnibus part can apply to every fishery in the future, and that needs to be stopped. Please send to anyone else you know and get them and all their crew to write in comments. Even quick one liners. This is a big deal. And if they all thought it was only herring and mackerel originally, make sure to say that. That was the original plan but the sneaks at NMFS are trying to pull a fast one and make EVERY FISHERY PAY FOR OBSERVERS TO THE TUNE OF $700.00+ PER DAY. The Councils/NMFS have not publicized this to other fisheries or advisory panels, etc. But the omnibus part will affect every fishery. Nobody can afford that in the future, so I would suggest that you and everyone you know comment.

Also even if you are a seafood consumer or run a support business. Your ability to buy local seafood and your business’s will be affected immensely. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you comment. Sorry for such short notice but this was just thrown at us and it is critical we comment before the day is over….TODAY! This has to be stopped. JH


Mr. John Bullard,


Please consider these my public comments on the omnibus industry funding amendment. I would like to offer the following general comments:

  1. The public hearing document does not make it sufficiently clear to the public, that while the mackerel and herring fisheries are the only fisheries immediately impacted by the action, the blueprint for funding provided in this amendment affects all federal fisheries except groundfish and scallops going forward. In short, the vast majority of fishermen have not commented on this action because they did not realize that it pertained to their fishery.
  2. Most fishermen in fisheries such as lobster will be extremely surprised to find out that costs they will bear, are being determined now in this action. The document does not sufficiently explain that how and if the lobster fishery will have to pay, will be determined by a framework sometime in the future.  Thus, their ability to challenge the legality will be closed because they did not file suit in a timely manner after this action is finalized.  Most fisherman are small businesses and not large corporations with a legal staff on full time retainer to review government actions and therefore do not understand that they must object now to something hypothetical in the future.

Thus, I think a new public hearing document should be drafted and a new round of public hearings held, to make sure every single fishery in federal waters is notified that they will be potentially liable for costs determined in this amendment.

For this reason, I also believe a full economic and social cost analysis should be done by fishery before the amendment is taken out to public hearing. Many small boat fishermen become instantly non- viable across a whole host of fisheries should costs be imposed on them.  This amendment has the immediate and foreseeable impact of decreasing the value of their permits even if no further action is taken. Who will want to buy a permit of a vessel that has insufficient revenue to cover the costs of observers? I have heard the defense that this action does not cause any economic impact but puts that decision and action on future councils so an EIS is not needed. I disagree, just the fact of adding another expense onto a faltering industry has an immediate impact on owners and vessels for long term decisions and one more uncertainty in the decision-making process.  Just because this does not impose an actual amount on any one fishery, it changes the dynamics of the economics of all fisheries and should be analyzed to allow the fishing industry to make informed comments.  It is disingenuous to say that there are not any economic or social impacts connected with this action.

In addition, I will offer some specific comments on the Amendment that I think have not been addressed by the Council or NOAA. I made many of these comments at the January 2016 Council meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. They were not addressed then, and so far, as I can discern, have not been addressed since.

Comment1) Monitoring is a function of government and should be funded at levels Congress deems appropriate through NOAA line items in the budget.

Comment2) Magnusson allows for the placement of observers on fishing boats but is silent on cost recovery except in specific fisheries in the North Pacific Region.

Comment3) The ability to place an additional economic burden on future fisheries without regard to the economic viability of that fishery is not addressed and could easily put future fisheries out of business.

Comment4) Comment 3 requires a EIS not an EA to analyze fully the effects on the human environment.

Comment5) Data ownership and price negotiation should be clarified. If fishermen are forced to pay government approved, for profit private contractors, fishermen should own the resulting data and have the ability to negotiate the costs on a vessel by vessel basis.

Comment6) No discussion of the issue of observer bias is present in the document. When the government pays the observers, they are beholden to the government. When the industry pays, some observers could become biased in favor of the person paying the bill. This is already occurring in groundfish. It is subtle, but occurring, and probably unstoppable. Thus, the scientific utility of the data collected is uncertain. As a scientist, I would be very concerned with this issue.

For all these reasons, I believe the best course of action is to withdraw the omnibus amendment and take up the issue with Congress when Magnusson is reauthorized.


David Goethel

Owner/Operator F/V Ellen Diane

23 Ridgeview Terrace

Hampton, NH 03842