Fisheries across nation seeking monitor waivers

What began in the fisheries of New England has spread across the country. Fishing stakeholders from as far away as the West Coast and Alaska have joined Northeast commercial fishermen in pressuring NOAA Fisheries to extend — and uniformly apply — waivers from having to carry at-sea monitors and other observers on vessels while the COVID-19 pandemic still rages. The Seafood Harvesters of America, an umbrella organization that represents 18 separate fishing groups from Maine to Alaska, wrote to NOAA Fisheries and Department of Commerce officials this week to advance many of the same safety arguments against reinstating observers aboard commercial fishing vessels in the midst of the pandemic. >click to read< 16:30

One Response to Fisheries across nation seeking monitor waivers

  1. Brick Wenzel says:

    June 29, 2020
    The Honorable Neil Jacobs, Ph.D.
    Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 5128
    Washington, DC 20230
    Dear Under Secretary Jacobs,
    We write to request the continuation of the waiver of At-Sea Monitoring (ASM) for Northeast Fisheries. Extending this waiver will help to protect the health and safety of New Jersey’s fishermen and women during the COVID-19 crisis and will allow them to safely continue to supply our nation with quality seafood.
    New Jersey has been among the hardest hit states during the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciated that on March 24, 2020 NOAA issued emergency action to waive ASM in order to safeguard Northeast fisheries from potential exposure to the coronavirus by observers. Importantly, providing the authority to temporarily waive ASM both protected the fishing population, but also maintained the ASM focus on conservation and allowed New Jersey’s fishermen and women to return to providing seafood to our nation.
    As this temporary waiver draws to an end, we can see that it still remains a necessity to continue to prioritize the health and safety of our fisheries. Because ASM requires monitors to be deployed in close quarters to crews, and given that the fishing population remains older, continuing ASM at the moment, especially in a hard hit state like New Jersey, remains an unacceptable risk for our fisheries.
    We urge you to continue the waiver of ASM during the COVID-19 pandemic and prioritize the safety of our fisheries. We also ask that NOAA consider proposals to adapt ASM to social distancing and other COVID-19 safety guidelines so that it may safely transition back into effect upon the end of the waiver.
    The extension of this waiver is critical to New Jersey’s fisheries, and to protecting the health of Americans that work each day to provide us with the quality seafood products. We appreciate your consideration of our request and appreciate your commitment to the safety of America’s fisheries.
    Sincerely,
    M
    Andy Kim
    Member of Congress
    ASM Waiver Extension Co-Signers:
    The Honorable Jefferson Van Drew
    CC: Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, NOAA Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office

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