Northeast Observer Waiver Extended Through July 31, 2020

Although we had announced plans to resume observer deployments on July 1, we recognize the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and as such, has required us to re-evaluate and adapt to changing circumstances.  In response, NOAA Fisheries is extending the waiver granted to vessels with Greater Atlantic Region fishing permits to carry human observers or at-sea monitors through July 31, 2020.

This action is authorized by 50 CFR 648.11, which provides the Greater Atlantic Regional Administrator authority to waive observer requirements, and is also consistent with the criteria described in the agency’s emergency rule on observer waivers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We intend to begin redeploying observers and at-sea monitors on vessels fishing in northeast fisheries on August 1. During the month of July, we will continue to work with regional observer and at-sea monitoring service providers to finalize their observer redeployment plans, conduct outreach with industry, and finalize our internal programs and policies that will support the safe and effective redeployment of observers and at-sea monitors in the region.

Observers and at-sea monitors are an essential component of commercial fishing operations and provide critical information that is necessary to keep fisheries open and to provide sustainable seafood to our nation during this time. We will continue to monitor all local public health notifications, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for updates. We are committed to protecting the public health and ensuring the safety of fishermen, observers, and others, while fulfilling our mission to maintain our nation’s seafood supply and conserving marine life.

As has been done throughout the rest of the country, it is the intent of NOAA Fisheries to begin redeploying observers as soon as it is safe and appropriate to do so. While we intend to begin redeploying observers on August 1, we recognize that this public health crisis continues to evolve and changing conditions may warrant re-evaluating these plans. Should our plans regarding re-deploying observers and at-sea monitors change, we will announce any changes as soon as practicable.

Question? Media: Contact Allison Ferreira, Regional Office, 978-281-9103