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e-CFR data is current as of July 30, 2020

Title 50Chapter VIPart 648Subpart A → §648.11


Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES
Subpart A—General Provisions


§648.11   Monitoring coverage.

(a) Coverage. The Regional Administrator may request any vessel holding a permit for Atlantic sea scallops, NE multispecies, monkfish, skates, Atlantic mackerel, squid, butterfish, scup, black sea bass, bluefish, spiny dogfish, Atlantic herring, tilefish, Atlantic surfclam, ocean quahog, or Atlantic deep-sea red crab; or a moratorium permit for summer flounder; to carry a NMFS-certified fisheries observer. A vessel holding a permit for Atlantic sea scallops is subject to the additional requirements specified in paragraph (k) of this section. A vessel holding a Category A or B Herring Permit is subject to the additional requirements specified in paragraph (m) of this section. Also, any vessel or vessel owner/operator that fishes for, catches or lands hagfish, or intends to fish for, catch, or land hagfish in or from the exclusive economic zone must carry a NMFS-certified fisheries observer when requested by the Regional Administrator in accordance with the requirements of this section.

(b) Facilitating coverage. If requested by the Regional Administrator or their designees, including NMFS-certified observers, monitors, and NMFS staff, to be sampled by an observer or monitor, it is the responsibility of the vessel owner or vessel operator to arrange for and facilitate observer or monitor placement. Owners or operators of vessels selected for observer or monitor coverage must notify the appropriate monitoring service provider before commencing any fishing trip that may result in the harvest of resources of the respective fishery. Notification procedures will be specified in selection letters to vessel owners or permit holder letters.

(c) Safety waivers. The Regional Administrator may waive the requirement to be sampled by an observer or monitor if the facilities on a vessel for housing the observer or monitor, or for carrying out observer or monitor functions, are so inadequate or unsafe that the health or safety of the observer or monitor, or the safe operation of the vessel, would be jeopardized.

(d) Vessel requirements associated with coverage. An owner or operator of a vessel on which a NMFS-certified observer or monitor is embarked must:

(1) Provide accommodations and food that are equivalent to those provided to the crew.

(2) Allow the observer or monitor access to and use of the vessel's communications equipment and personnel upon request for the transmission and receipt of messages related to the observer's or monitor's duties.

(3) Provide true vessel locations, by latitude and longitude or loran coordinates, as requested by the observer or monitor, and allow the observer or monitor access to and use of the vessel's navigation equipment and personnel upon request to determine the vessel's position.

(4) Notify the observer or monitor in a timely fashion of when fishing operations are to begin and end.

(5) Allow for the embarking and debarking of the observer or monitor, as specified by the Regional Administrator, ensuring that transfers of observers or monitors at sea are accomplished in a safe manner, via small boat or raft, during daylight hours as weather and sea conditions allow, and with the agreement of the observers or monitors involved.

(6) Allow the observer or monitor free and unobstructed access to the vessel's bridge, working decks, holding bins, weight scales, holds, and any other space used to hold, process, weigh, or store fish.

(7) Allow the observer or monitor to inspect and copy any the vessel's log, communications log, and records associated with the catch and distribution of fish for that trip.

(e) Vessel requirements associated with protected species. The owner or operator of a vessel issued a summer flounder moratorium permit, a scup moratorium permit, a black sea bass moratorium permit, a bluefish permit, a spiny dogfish permit, an Atlantic herring permit, an Atlantic deep-sea red crab permit, a skate permit, or a tilefish permit, if requested by the observer or monitor, also must:

(1) Notify the observer or monitor of any sea turtles, marine mammals, summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, bluefish, spiny dogfish, Atlantic herring, Atlantic deep-sea red crab, tilefish, skates (including discards) or other specimens taken by the vessel.

(2) Provide the observer or monitor with sea turtles, marine mammals, summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, bluefish, spiny dogfish, Atlantic herring, Atlantic deep-sea red crab, skates, tilefish, or other specimens taken by the vessel.

(f) Coverage funded from outside sources. NMFS may accept observer or monitor coverage funded by outside sources if:

(1) All coverage conducted by such observers or monitors is determined by NMFS to be in compliance with NMFS' observer or monitor guidelines and procedures.

(2) The owner or operator of the vessel complies with all other provisions of this part.

(3) The observer or monitor is approved by the Regional Administrator.

(g) Industry-funded monitoring programs. Fishery management plans (FMPs) managed by the New England Fishery Management Council (New England Council), including Atlantic Herring, Atlantic Salmon, Atlantic Sea Scallops, Deep-Sea Red Crab, Northeast Multispecies, and Northeast Skate Complex, may include industry-funded monitoring programs (IFM) to supplement existing monitoring required by the Standard Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM), Endangered Species Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. IFM programs may use observers, monitors, including at-sea monitors and portside samplers, and electronic monitoring to meet specified IFM coverage targets. The ability to meet IFM coverage targets may be constrained by the availability of Federal funding to pay NMFS cost responsibilities associated with IFM.

(1) Guiding principles for new IFM programs. The Council's development of an IFM program must consider or include the following:

(i) A clear need or reason for the data collection;

(ii) Objective design criteria;

(iii) Cost of data collection should not diminish net benefits to the nation nor threaten continued existence of the fishery;

(iv) Seek less data intensive methods to collect data necessary to assure conservation and sustainability when assessing and managing fisheries with minimal profit margins;

(v) Prioritize the use of modern technology to the extent practicable; and

(vi) Incentives for reliable self-reporting.

(2) Process to implement and revise new IFM programs. New IFM programs shall be developed via an amendment to a specific FMP. IFM programs implemented in an FMP may be revised via a framework adjustment. The details of an IFM program may include, but are not limited to:

(i) Level and type of coverage target;

(ii) Rationale for level and type of coverage;

(iii) Minimum level of coverage necessary to meet coverage goals;

(iv) Consideration of waivers if coverage targets cannot be met;

(v) Process for vessel notification and selection;

(vi) Cost collection and administration;

(vii) Standards for monitoring service providers; and

(viii) Any other measures necessary to implement the industry-funded monitoring program.

(3) NMFS cost responsibilities. IFM programs have two types of costs, NMFS and industry costs. Cost responsibilities are delineated by the type of cost. NMFS cost responsibilities include the following:

(i) The labor and facilities associated with training and debriefing of monitors;

(ii) NMFS-issued gear (e.g., electronic reporting aids used by human monitors to record trip information);

(iii) Certification of monitoring service providers and individual observers or monitors; performance monitoring to maintain certificates;

(iv) Developing and executing vessel selection;

(v) Data processing (including electronic monitoring video audit, but excluding service provider electronic video review); and

(vi) Costs associated with liaison activities between service providers, and NMFS, Coast Guard, New England Council, sector managers, and other partners.

(vii) The industry is responsible for all other costs associated with IFM programs.

(4) Prioritization process to cover NMFS IFM cost responsibilities. (i) Available Federal funding refers to any funds in excess of those allocated to meet SBRM requirements or the existing IFM programs in the Atlantic Sea Scallop and Northeast Multispecies FMPs that may be used to cover NMFS cost responsibilities associated with IFM coverage targets. If there is no available Federal funding in a given year to cover NMFS IFM cost responsibilities, then there shall be no IFM coverage during that year. If there is some available Federal funding in a given year, but not enough to cover all of NMFS cost responsibilities associated with IFM coverage targets, then the New England Council will prioritize available Federal funding across IFM programs during that year. Existing IFM programs for Atlantic sea scallops and Northeast multispecies fisheries shall not be included in this prioritization process.

(ii) Programs with IFM coverage targets shall be prioritized using an equal weighting approach, such that any available Federal funding shall be divided equally among programs.

(iii) After NMFS determines the amount of available Federal funding for the next fishing year, NMFS shall provide the New England Council with the estimated IFM coverage levels for the next fishing year. The estimated IFM coverage levels would be based on the equal weighting approach and would include the rationale for any deviations from the equal weighting approach. The New England Council may recommend revisions and additional considerations to the Regional Administrator and Science and Research Director.

(A) If available Federal funding exceeds that needed to pay all of NMFS cost responsibilities for administering IFM programs, the New England Council may request NMFS to use available funding to help offset industry cost responsibilities through reimbursement.

(B) [Reserved]

(iv) Revisions to the prioritization process may be made via a framework adjustment to all New England FMPs.

(v) Revisions to the weighting approach for the New England Council-led prioritization process may be made via a framework adjustment to all New England FMPs or by the New England Council considering a new weighting approach at a public meeting, where public comment is accepted, and requesting NMFS to publish a notice or rulemaking revising the weighting approach. NMFS shall implement revisions to the weighting approach in a manner consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act.

(5) IFM program monitoring service provider requirements. IFM monitoring service provider requirements shall be consistent with requirements in paragraph (h) of this section and observer or monitor requirements shall be consistent with requirements in paragraph (i) of this section.

(6) Monitoring set-aside. The New England Council may develop a monitoring set-aside program for individual FMPs that would devote a portion of the annual catch limit for a fishery to help offset the industry cost responsibilities for monitoring coverage, including observers, at-sea monitors, portside samplers, and electronic monitoring.

(i) The details of a monitoring set-aside program may include, but are not limited to:

(A) The basis for the monitoring set-aside;

(B) The amount of the set-aside (e.g., quota, days at sea);

(C) How the set-aside is allocated to vessels required to pay for monitoring (e.g., an increased trip limit, differential days at sea counting, additional trips, an allocation of the quota);

(D) The process for vessel notification;

(E) How funds are collected and administered to cover the industry's costs of monitoring; and

(F) Any other measures necessary to develop and implement a monitoring set-aside.

(ii) The New England Council may develop new monitoring set-asides and revise those monitoring set-asides via a framework adjustment to the relevant FMP.

(h) Monitoring service provider approval and responsibilities—(1) General. An entity seeking to provide monitoring services, including services for IFM Programs described in paragraph (g) of this section, must apply for and obtain approval from NMFS following submission of a complete application. Monitoring services include providing NMFS-certified observers, monitors (at-sea monitors and portside samplers), and/or electronic monitoring. A list of approved monitoring service providers shall be distributed to vessel owners and shall be posted on the NMFS Fisheries Sampling Branch (FSB) website at: https://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/femad/fsb/.

(2) [Reserved]

(3) Contents of application. An application to become an approved monitoring service provider shall contain the following:

(i) Identification of the management, organizational structure, and ownership structure of the applicant's business, including identification by name and general function of all controlling management interests in the company, including but not limited to owners, board members, officers, authorized agents, and staff. If the applicant is a corporation, the articles of incorporation must be provided. If the applicant is a partnership, the partnership agreement must be provided.

(ii) The permanent mailing address, phone and fax numbers where the owner(s) can be contacted for official correspondence, and the current physical location, business mailing address, business telephone and fax numbers, and business email address for each office.

(iii) A statement, signed under penalty of perjury, from each owner or owners, board members, and officers, if a corporation, that they are free from a conflict of interest as described under paragraph (h)(6) of this section.

(iv) A statement, signed under penalty of perjury, from each owner or owners, board members, and officers, if a corporation, describing any criminal conviction(s), Federal contract(s) they have had and the performance rating they received on the contracts, and previous decertification action(s) while working as an observer or monitor or monitoring service provider.

(v) A description of any prior experience the applicant may have in placing individuals in remote field and/or marine work environments. This includes, but is not limited to, recruiting, hiring, deployment, and personnel administration.

(vi) A description of the applicant's ability to carry out the responsibilities and duties of a monitoring service provider as set out under paragraph (h)(5) of this section, and the arrangements to be used.

(vii) Evidence of holding adequate insurance to cover injury, liability, and accidental death for observers or monitors, whether contracted or employed by the service provider, during their period of employment (including during training). Workers' Compensation and Maritime Employer's Liability insurance must be provided to cover the observer or monitor, vessel owner, and observer provider. The minimum coverage required is $5 million. Monitoring service providers shall provide copies of the insurance policies to observers or monitors to display to the vessel owner, operator, or vessel manager, when requested.

(viii) Proof that its observers or monitors, whether contracted or employed by the service provider, are compensated with salaries that meet or exceed the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) guidelines for observers. Observers shall be compensated as Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) non-exempt employees. Monitoring service providers shall provide any other benefits and personnel services in accordance with the terms of each observer's or monitor's contract or employment status.

(ix) The names of its fully equipped, NMFS/FSB certified, observers or monitors on staff or a list of its training candidates (with resumes) and a request for an appropriate NMFS/FSB Training class. All training classes have a minimum class size of eight individuals, which may be split among multiple vendors requesting training. Requests for training classes with fewer than eight individuals will be delayed until further requests make up the full training class size.

(x) An Emergency Action Plan (EAP) describing its response to an “at sea” emergency with an observer or monitor, including, but not limited to, personal injury, death, harassment, or intimidation. An EAP that details a monitoring service provider's responses to emergencies involving observers, monitors, or monitoring service provider personnel. The EAP shall include communications protocol and appropriate contact information in an emergency.

(4) Application evaluation. (i) NMFS shall review and evaluate each application submitted under paragraph (h)(3) of this section. Issuance of approval as a monitoring service provider shall be based on completeness of the application, and a determination by NMFS of the applicant's ability to perform the duties and responsibilities of a monitoring service provider, as demonstrated in the application information. A decision to approve or deny an application shall be made by NMFS within 15 business days of receipt of the application by NMFS.

(ii) If NMFS approves the application, the monitoring service provider's name will be added to the list of approved monitoring service providers found on the NMFS/FSB website specified in paragraph (h)(1) of this section, and in any outreach information to the industry. Approved monitoring service providers shall be notified in writing and provided with any information pertinent to its participation in the observer or monitor programs.

(iii) An application shall be denied if NMFS determines that the information provided in the application is not complete or the evaluation criteria are not met. NMFS shall notify the applicant in writing of any deficiencies in the application or information submitted in support of the application. An applicant who receives a denial of his or her application may present additional information to rectify the deficiencies specified in the written denial, provided such information is submitted to NMFS within 30 days of the applicant's receipt of the denial notification from NMFS. In the absence of additional information, and after 30 days from an applicant's receipt of a denial, a monitoring service provider is required to resubmit an application containing all of the information required under the application process specified in paragraph (h)(3) of this section to be re-considered for being added to the list of approved monitoring service providers.

(5) Responsibilities of monitoring service providers—(i) Certified observers or monitors. A monitoring service provider must provide observers or monitors certified by NMFS/FSB pursuant to paragraph (i) of this section for deployment in a fishery when contacted and contracted by the owner, operator, or vessel manager of a fishing vessel, unless the monitoring service provider refuses to deploy an observer or monitor on a requesting vessel for any of the reasons specified at paragraph (h)(5)(viii) of this section.

(ii) Support for observers or monitors. A monitoring service provider must provide to each of its observers or monitors:

(A) All necessary transportation, lodging costs and support for arrangements and logistics of travel for observers and monitors to and from the initial location of deployment, to all subsequent vessel assignments, to any debriefing locations, and for appearances in Court for monitoring-related trials as necessary;

(B) Lodging, per diem, and any other services necessary for observers or monitors assigned to a fishing vessel or to attend an appropriate NMFS/FSB training class;

(C) The required observer or monitor equipment, in accordance with equipment requirements listed on the NMFS/FSB website specified in paragraph (h)(1) of this section, prior to any deployment and/or prior to NMFS observer or monitor certification training; and

(D) Individually assigned communication equipment, in working order, such as a mobile phone, for all necessary communication. A monitoring service provider may alternatively compensate observers or monitors for the use of the observer's or monitor's personal mobile phone, or other device, for communications made in support of, or necessary for, the observer's or monitor's duties.

(iii) Observer and monitor deployment logistics. Each approved monitoring service provider must assign an available certified observer or monitor to a vessel upon request. Each approved monitoring service provider must be accessible 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, to enable an owner, operator, or manager of a vessel to secure monitoring coverage when requested. The telephone or other notification system must be monitored a minimum of four times daily to ensure rapid response to industry requests. Monitoring service providers approved under this paragraph (h) are required to report observer or monitor deployments to NMFS for the purpose of determining whether the predetermined coverage levels are being achieved in the appropriate fishery.

(iv) Observer deployment limitations. (A) A candidate observer's first several deployments and the resulting data shall be immediately edited and approved after each trip by NMFS/FSB prior to any further deployments by that observer. If data quality is considered acceptable, the observer would be certified. For further information, see https://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/fsb/training/.

(B) For the purpose of coverage to meet SBRM requirements, unless alternative arrangements are approved by NMFS, a monitoring service provider must not deploy any NMFS-certified observer on the same vessel for more than two consecutive multi-day trips, and not more than twice in any given month for multi-day deployments.

(C) For the purpose of coverage to meet IFM requirements, a monitoring service provider may deploy any NMFS-certified observer or monitor on the same vessel for more than two consecutive multi-day trips and more than twice in any given month for multi-day deployments.

(v) Communications with observers and monitors. A monitoring service provider must have an employee responsible for observer or monitor activities on call 24 hours a day to handle emergencies involving observers or monitors or problems concerning observer or monitor logistics, whenever observers or monitors are at sea, stationed portside, in transit, or in port awaiting vessel assignment.

(vi) Observer and monitor training requirements. A request for a NMFS/FSB Observer or Monitor Training class must be submitted to NMFS/FSB 45 calendar days in advance of the requested training. The following information must be submitted to NMFS/FSB at least 15 business days prior to the beginning of the proposed training: A list of observer or monitor candidates; candidate resumes, cover letters and academic transcripts; and a statement signed by the candidate, under penalty of perjury, that discloses the candidate's criminal convictions, if any. A medical report certified by a physician for each candidate is required 7 business days prior to the first day of training. CPR/First Aid certificates and a final list of training candidates with candidate contact information (email, phone, number, mailing address and emergency contact information) are due 7 business days prior to the first day of training. NMFS may reject a candidate for training if the candidate does not meet the minimum qualification requirements as outlined by NMFS/FSB minimum eligibility standards for observers or monitors as described on the NMFS/FSB website.

(vii) Reports and Requirements—(A) Deployment reports. The monitoring service provider must report to NMFS/FSB when, where, to whom, and to what vessel an observer or monitor has been deployed, as soon as practicable, and according to requirements outlined on the NMFS/FSB website. The deployment report must be available and accessible to NMFS electronically 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The monitoring service provider must ensure that the observer or monitor reports to NMFS the required electronic data, as described in the NMFS/FSB training. Electronic data submission protocols will be outlined in training and may include accessing government websites via personal computers/devices or submitting data through government issued electronics. The monitoring service provider shall provide the raw (unedited) data collected by the observer or monitor to NMFS at the specified time per program. For further information, see https://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/fsb/         scallop/.

(B) Safety refusals. The monitoring service provider must report to NMFS any trip or landing that has been refused due to safety issues (e.g., failure to hold a valid USCG Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Examination Decal or to meet the safety requirements of the observer's or monitor's safety checklist) within 12 hours of the refusal.

(C) Biological samples. The monitoring service provider must ensure that biological samples, including whole marine mammals, sea turtles, sea birds, and fin clips or other DNA samples, are stored/handled properly and transported to NMFS within 5 days of landing. If transport to NMFS/FSB Observer Training Facility is not immediately available then whole animals requiring freezing shall be received by the nearest NMFS freezer facility within 24 hours of vessel landing.

(D) Debriefing. The monitoring service provider must ensure that the observer or monitor remains available to NMFS, either in-person or via phone, at NMFS' discretion, including NMFS Office for Law Enforcement, for debriefing for at least 2 weeks following any monitored trip. If requested by NMFS, an observer or monitor that is at sea during the 2-week period must contact NMFS upon his or her return. Monitoring service providers must pay for travel and land hours for any requested debriefings.

(E) Availability report. The monitoring service provider must report to NMFS any occurrence of inability to respond to an industry request for observer or monitor coverage due to the lack of available observers or monitors as soon as practicable if the provider is unable to respond to an industry request for monitoring coverage. Availability report must be available and accessible to NMFS electronically 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

(F) Incident reports. The monitoring service provider must report possible observer or monitor harassment, discrimination, concerns about vessel safety or marine casualty, or observer or monitor illness or injury; and any information, allegations, or reports regarding observer or monitor conflict of interest or breach of the standards of behavior, to NMFS/FSB within 12 hours of the event or within 12 hours of learning of the event.

(G) Status report. The monitoring service provider must provide NMFS/FSB with an updated list of contact information for all observers or monitors that includes the identification number, name, mailing address, email address, phone numbers, homeports or fisheries/trip types assigned, and must include whether or not the observer or monitor is “in service,” indicating when the observer or monitor has requested leave and/or is not currently working for an industry-funded program. Any Federally contracted NMFS-certified observer not actively deployed on a vessel for 30 days will be placed on Leave of Absence (LOA) status (or as specified by NMFS/FSB according to most recent Information Technology Security Guidelines at https://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/fsb/memos/. Those Federally contracted NMFS-certified observers on LOA for 90 days or more will need to conduct an exit interview with NMFS/FSB and return any NMFS/FSB issued gear and Common Access Card (CAC), unless alternative arrangements are approved by NMFS/FSB. NMFS/FSB requires 2-week advance notification when a Federally contracted NMFS-certified observer is leaving the program so that an exit interview may be arranged and gear returned.

(H) Vessel contract. The monitoring service provider must submit to NMFS/FSB, if requested, a copy of each type of signed and valid contract (including all attachments, appendices, addendums, and exhibits incorporated into the contract) between the monitoring service provider and those entities requiring monitoring services.

(I) Observer and monitor contract. The monitoring service provider must submit to NMFS/FSB, if requested, a copy of each type of signed and valid contract (including all attachments, appendices, addendums, and exhibits incorporated into the contract) between the monitoring service provider and specific observers or monitors.

(J) Additional information. The monitoring service provider must submit to NMFS/FSB, if requested, copies of any information developed and/or used by the monitoring service provider and distributed to vessels, observers, or monitors, such as informational pamphlets, payment notification, daily rate of monitoring services, description of observer or monitor duties, etc.

(viii) Refusal to deploy an observer or monitor. (A) A monitoring service provider may refuse to deploy an observer or monitor on a requesting fishing vessel if the monitoring service provider does not have an available observer or monitor within the required time and must report all refusals to NMFS/FSB.

(B) A monitoring service provider may refuse to deploy an observer or monitor on a requesting fishing vessel if the monitoring service provider has determined that the requesting vessel is inadequate or unsafe pursuant to the reasons described at §600.746.

(C) The monitoring service provider may refuse to deploy an observer or monitor on a fishing vessel that is otherwise eligible to carry an observer or monitor for any other reason, including failure to pay for previous monitoring deployments, provided the monitoring service provider has received prior written confirmation from NMFS authorizing such refusal.

(6) Limitations on conflict of interest. A monitoring service provider:

(i) Must not have a direct or indirect interest in a fishery managed under Federal regulations, including, but not limited to, a fishing vessel, fish dealer, and/or fishery advocacy group (other than providing monitoring services);

(ii) Must assign observers or monitors without regard to any preference by representatives of vessels other than when an observer or monitor will be deployed for the trip that was selected for coverage; and

(iii) Must not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gratuity, gift, favor, entertainment, loan, or anything of monetary value from anyone who conducts fishing or fishing related activities that are regulated by NMFS, or who has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the official duties of monitoring service providers.

(7) Removal of monitoring service provider from the list of approved service providers. A monitoring service provider that fails to meet the requirements, conditions, and responsibilities specified in paragraphs (h)(5) and (6) of this section shall be notified by NMFS, in writing, that it is subject to removal from the list of approved monitoring service providers. Such notification shall specify the reasons for the pending removal. A monitoring service provider that has received notification that it is subject to removal from the list of approved monitoring service providers may submit written information to rebut the reasons for removal from the list. Such rebuttal must be submitted within 30 days of notification received by the monitoring service provider that the monitoring service provider is subject to removal and must be accompanied by written evidence rebutting the basis for removal. NMFS shall review information rebutting the pending removal and shall notify the monitoring service provider within 15 days of receipt of the rebuttal whether or not the removal is warranted. If no response to a pending removal is received by NMFS, the monitoring service provider shall be automatically removed from the list of approved monitoring service providers. The decision to remove the monitoring service provider from the list, either after reviewing a rebuttal, or if no rebuttal is submitted, shall be the final decision of NMFS and the Department of Commerce. Removal from the list of approved monitoring service providers does not necessarily prevent such monitoring service provider from obtaining an approval in the future if a new application is submitted that demonstrates that the reasons for removal are remedied. Certified observers and monitors under contract with observer monitoring service provider that has been removed from the list of approved service providers must complete their assigned duties for any fishing trips on which the observers or monitors are deployed at the time the monitoring service provider is removed from the list of approved monitoring service providers. A monitoring service provider removed from the list of approved monitoring service providers is responsible for providing NMFS with the information required in paragraph (h)(5)(vii) of this section following completion of the trip. NMFS may consider, but is not limited to, the following in determining if a monitoring service provider may remain on the list of approved monitoring service providers:

(i) Failure to meet the requirements, conditions, and responsibilities of monitoring service providers specified in paragraphs (h)(5) and (6) of this section;

(ii) Evidence of conflict of interest as defined under paragraph (h)(6) of this section;

(iii) Evidence of criminal convictions related to:

(A) Embezzlement, theft, forgery, bribery, falsification or destruction of records, making false statements, or receiving stolen property; or

(B) The commission of any other crimes of dishonesty, as defined by state law or Federal law, that would seriously and directly affect the fitness of an applicant in providing monitoring services under this section; and

(iv) Unsatisfactory performance ratings on any Federal contracts held by the applicant; and

(v) Evidence of any history of decertification as either an observer, monitor, or monitoring service provider.

(i) Observer or monitor certification—(1) Requirements. To be certified, employees or sub-contractors operating as observers or monitors for monitoring service providers approved under paragraph (h) of this section. In addition, observers must meet NMFS National Minimum Eligibility Standards for observers specified at the National Observer Program website: https://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/op/pds/categories/scienceandtechnology.html. For further information, see https://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/observer-home/.

(2) Observer or monitor training. In order to be deployed on any fishing vessel, a candidate observer or monitor must have passed an appropriate NMFS/FSB Observer Training course and must adhere to all NMFS/FSB program standards and policies (refer to website for program standards, https://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/fsb/training/). If a candidate fails training, the candidate and monitoring service provider shall be notified immediately by NMFS/FSB. Observer training may include an observer training trip, as part of the observer's training, aboard a fishing vessel with a trainer. Refer to the NMFS/FSB website for the required number of program specific observer and monitor training certification trips for full certification following training, https://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/fsb/training/.

(3) Observer requirements. All observers must:

(i) Have a valid NMFS/FSB fisheries observer certification pursuant to paragraph (i)(1) of this section;

(ii) Be physically and mentally capable of carrying out the responsibilities of an observer on board fishing vessels, pursuant to standards established by NMFS. Such standards are available from NMFS/FSB website specified in paragraph (h)(1) of this section and shall be provided to each approved monitoring service provider;

(iii) Have successfully completed all NMFS-required training and briefings for observers before deployment, pursuant to paragraph (i)(2) of this section;

(iv) Hold a current Red Cross (or equivalence) CPR/First Aid certification;

(v) Accurately record their sampling data, write complete reports, and report accurately any observations relevant to conservation of marine resources or their environment; and

(vi) Report unsafe sampling conditions, pursuant to paragraph (m)(6) of this section.

(4) Monitor requirements. All monitors must:

(i) Hold a high school diploma or legal equivalent;

(ii) Have a valid NMFS/FSB certification pursuant to paragraph (i)(1) of this section;

(iii) Be physically and mentally capable of carrying out the responsibilities of a monitor on board fishing vessels, pursuant to standards established by NMFS. Such standards are available from NMFS/FSB website specified in paragraph (h)(1) of this section and shall be provided to each approved monitoring service provider;

(iv) Have successfully completed all NMFS-required training and briefings for monitors before deployment, pursuant to paragraph (i)(2) of this section;

(v) Hold a current Red Cross (or equivalence) CPR/First Aid certification if the monitor is to be employed as an at-sea monitor;

(vi) Accurately record their sampling data, write complete reports, and report accurately any observations relevant to conservation of marine resources or their environment; and

(vii) Report unsafe sampling conditions, pursuant to paragraph (m)(6) of this section.

(5) Probation and decertification. NMFS may review observer and monitor certifications and issue observer and monitor certification probation and/or decertification as described in NMFS policy found on the NMFS/FSB website specified in paragraph (h)(1) of this section.

(6) Issuance of decertification. Upon determination that decertification is warranted under paragraph (i)(5) of this section, NMFS shall issue a written decision to decertify the observer or monitor to the observer or monitor and approved monitoring service providers via certified mail at the observer's or monitor's most current address provided to NMFS. The decision shall identify whether a certification is revoked and shall identify the specific reasons for the action taken. Decertification is effective immediately as of the date of issuance, unless the decertification official notes a compelling reason for maintaining certification for a specified period and under specified conditions. Decertification is the final decision of NMFS and the Department of Commerce and may not be appealed.

(j) Coverage. In the event that a vessel is requested by the Regional Administrator to carry a NMFS-certified fisheries observer pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section and is also selected to carry an at-sea monitor as part of an approved sector at-sea monitoring program specified in §648.87(b)(1)(v) for the same trip, only the NMFS-certified fisheries observer is required to go on that particular trip.

(k) Atlantic sea scallop observer program—(1) General. Unless otherwise specified, owners, operators, and/or managers of vessels issued a Federal scallop permit under §648.4(a)(2), and specified in paragraph (a) of this section, must comply with this section and are jointly and severally responsible for their vessel's compliance with this section. To facilitate the deployment of at-sea observers, all sea scallop vessels issued limited access and LAGC IFQ permits are required to comply with the additional notification requirements specified in paragraph (k)(2) of this section. When NMFS notifies the vessel owner, operator, and/or manager of any requirement to carry an observer on a specified trip in either an Access Area or Open Area as specified in paragraph (k)(3) of this section, the vessel may not fish for, take, retain, possess, or land any scallops without carrying an observer. Vessels may only embark on a scallop trip in open areas or Access Areas without an observer if the vessel owner, operator, and/or manager has been notified that the vessel has received a waiver of the observer requirement for that trip pursuant to paragraphs (k)(3) and (k)(4)(ii) of this section.

(2) Vessel notification procedures—(i) Limited access vessels. Limited access vessel owners, operators, or managers shall notify NMFS/FSB by telephone not more than 10 days prior to the beginning of any scallop trip of the time, port of departure, open area or specific Sea Scallop Access Area to be fished, and whether fishing as a scallop dredge, scallop trawl, or general category vessel.

(ii) LAGC IFQ vessels. LAGC IFQ vessel owners, operators, or managers must notify the NMFS/FSB by telephone by 0001 hr of the Thursday preceding the week (Sunday through Saturday) that they intend to start any open area or access area scallop trip and must include the port of departure, open area or specific Sea Scallop Access Area to be fished, and whether fishing as a scallop dredge, scallop trawl vessel. If selected, up to two trips that start during the specified week (Sunday through Saturday) can be selected to be covered by an observer. NMFS/FSB must be notified by the owner, operator, or vessel manager of any trip plan changes at least 48 hr prior to vessel departure.

(3) Selection of scallop trips for observer coverage. Based on predetermined coverage levels for various permit categories and areas of the scallop fishery that are provided by NMFS in writing to all observer service providers approved pursuant to paragraph (h) of this section, NMFS shall notify the vessel owner, operator, or vessel manager whether the vessel must carry an observer, or if a waiver has been granted, for the specified scallop trip, within 24 hr of the vessel owner's, operator's, or vessel manager's notification of the prospective scallop trip, as specified in paragraph (k)(2) of this section. Any request to carry an observer may be waived by NMFS. All waivers for observer coverage shall be issued to the vessel by VMS so as to have on-board verification of the waiver. A vessel may not fish in an area with an observer waiver confirmation number that does not match the scallop trip plan that was called in to NMFS. Confirmation numbers for trip notification calls are only valid for 48 hr from the intended sail date.

(4) Procurement of observer services by scallop vessels. (i) An owner of a scallop vessel required to carry an observer under paragraph (k)(3) of this section must arrange for carrying an observer certified through the observer training class operated by the NMFS/FSB from an observer service provider approved by NMFS under paragraph (h) of this section. The owner, operator, or vessel manager of a vessel selected to carry an observer must contact the observer service provider and must provide at least 48-hr notice in advance of the fishing trip for the provider to arrange for observer deployment for the specified trip. The observer service provider will notify the vessel owner, operator, or manager within 18 hr whether they have an available observer. A list of approved observer service providers shall be posted on the NMFS/FSB website at https://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/femad/fsb/. The observer service provider may take up to 48 hr to arrange for observer deployment for the specified scallop trip.

(ii) An owner, operator, or vessel manager of a vessel that cannot procure a certified observer within 48 hr of the advance notification to the provider due to the unavailability of an observer may request a waiver from NMFS/FSB from the requirement for observer coverage for that trip, but only if the owner, operator, or vessel manager has contacted all of the available observer service providers to secure observer coverage and no observer is available. NMFS/FSB shall issue such a waiver within 24 hr, if the conditions of this paragraph (g)(4)(ii) are met. A vessel may not begin the trip without being issued a waiver.

(5) Cost of coverage. Owners of scallop vessels shall be responsible for paying the cost of the observer for all scallop trips on which an observer is carried onboard the vessel, regardless of whether the vessel lands or sells sea scallops on that trip, and regardless of the availability of set-aside for an increased possession limit or reduced DAS accrual rate. The owners of vessels that carry an observer may be compensated with a reduced DAS accrual rate for open area scallop trips or additional scallop catch per day in Sea Scallop Access Areas or additional catch per open area or access area trip for LAGC IFQ trips in order to help defray the cost of the observer, under the program specified in §§648.53 and 648.60.

(i) Observer service providers shall establish the daily rate for observer coverage on a scallop vessel on an Access Area trip or open area DAS or IFQ scallop trip consistent with paragraphs (k)(5)(i)(A) and (B), respectively, of this section.

(A) Access Area trips. (1) For purposes of determining the daily rate for an observed scallop trip on a limited access vessel in a Sea Scallop Access Area when that specific Access Area's observer set-aside specified in §648.60(d)(1) has not been fully utilized, a service provider may charge a vessel owner for no more than the time an observer boards a vessel until the vessel disembarks (dock to dock), where “day” is defined as a 24-hr period, or any portion of a 24-hr period, regardless of the calendar day. For example, if a vessel with an observer departs on July 1 at 10 p.m. and lands on July 3 at 1 a.m., the time at sea equals 27 hr, which would equate to 2 full “days.”

(2) For purposes of determining the daily rate in a specific Sea Scallop Access Area for an observed scallop trip on a limited access vessel taken after NMFS has announced the industry-funded observer set-aside in that specific Access Area has been fully utilized, a service provider may charge a vessel owner for no more than the time an observer boards a vessel until the vessel disembarks (dock to dock), where “day” is defined as a 24-hr period, and portions of the other days would be pro-rated at an hourly charge (taking the daily rate divided by 24). For example, if a vessel with an observer departs on July 1 at 10 p.m. and lands on July 3 at 1 a.m., the time spent at sea equals 27 hr, which would equate to 1 day and 3 hr.

(3) For purposes of determining the daily rate in a specific Sea Scallop Access Area for observed scallop trips on an LAGC vessel, regardless of the status of the industry-funded observer set-aside, a service provider may charge a vessel owner for no more than the time an observer boards a vessel until the vessel disembarks (dock to dock), where “day” is defined as a 24-hr period, and portions of the other days would be pro-rated at an hourly charge (taking the daily rate divided by 24). For example, if a vessel with an observer departs on July 1 at 10 p.m. and lands on July 3 at 1 a.m., the time spent at sea equals 27 hr, which would equate to 1 day and 3 hr.

(B) Open area scallop trips. For purposes of determining the daily rate for an observed scallop trip for DAS or LAGC IFQ open area trips, regardless of the status of the industry-funded observer set-aside, a service provider shall charge dock to dock where “day” is defined as a 24-hr period, and portions of the other days would be pro-rated at an hourly charge (taking the daily rate divided by 24). For example, if a vessel with an observer departs on the July 1st at 10 p.m. and lands on July 3rd at 1 a.m., the time at sea equals 27 hr, so the provider would charge 1 day and 3 hr.

(ii) NMFS shall determine any reduced DAS accrual rate and the amount of additional pounds of scallops per day fished in a Sea Scallop Access Area or on an open area LAGC IFQ trips for the applicable fishing year based on the economic conditions of the scallop fishery, as determined by best available information. Vessel owners and observer service providers shall be notified through the Small Entity Compliance Guide of any DAS accrual rate changes and any changes in additional pounds of scallops determined by the Regional Administrator to be necessary. NMFS shall notify vessel owners and observer providers of any adjustments.

(iii) Owners of scallop vessels shall pay observer service providers for observer services within 45 days of the end of a fishing trip on which an observer deployed.

(6) Coverage and cost requirements. When the available DAS or TAC set-aside for observer coverage is exhausted, vessels shall still be required to carry an observer as specified in this section, and shall be responsible for paying for the cost of the observer, but shall not be authorized to harvest additional pounds or fish at a reduced DAS accrual rate.

(l) NE multispecies observer coverage—(1) Pre-trip notification. Unless otherwise specified in this paragraph (l), or notified by the Regional Administrator, the owner, operator, or manager of a vessel (i.e., vessel manager or sector manager) issued a limited access NE multispecies permit that is fishing under a NE multispecies DAS or on a sector trip, as defined in this part, must provide advanced notice to NMFS of the vessel name, permit number, and sector to which the vessel belongs, if applicable; contact name and telephone number for coordination of observer deployment; date, time, and port of departure; and the vessel's trip plan, including area to be fished, whether a monkfish DAS will be used, and gear type to be used at least 48 hr prior to departing port on any trip declared into the NE multispecies fishery pursuant to §648.10 or §648.85, as instructed by the Regional Administrator, for the purposes of selecting vessels for observer deployment. For trips lasting 48 hr or less in duration from the time the vessel leaves port to begin a fishing trip until the time the vessel returns to port upon the completion of the fishing trip, the vessel owner, operator, or manager may make a weekly notification rather than trip-by-trip calls. For weekly notifications, a vessel must notify NMFS by 0001 hr of the Friday preceding the week (Sunday through Saturday) that it intends to complete at least one NE multispecies DAS or sector trip during the following week and provide the date, time, port of departure, area to be fished, whether a monkfish DAS will be used, and gear type to be used for each trip during that week. Trip notification calls must be made no more than 10 days in advance of each fishing trip. The vessel owner, operator, or manager must notify NMFS of any trip plan changes at least 24 hr prior to vessel departure from port. A vessel may not begin the trip without being issued an observer notification or a waiver by NMFS.

(2) Vessel selection for observer coverage. NMFS shall notify the vessel owner, operator, or manager whether the vessel must carry an observer, or if a waiver has been granted, for the specified trip within 24 hr of the vessel owner's, operator's or manager's notification of the prospective trip, as specified in paragraph (l)(1) of this section. All trip notifications shall be issued a unique confirmation number. A vessel may not fish on a NE multispecies DAS or sector trip with an observer waiver confirmation number that does not match the trip plan that was called in to NMFS. Confirmation numbers for trip notification calls are valid for 48 hr from the intended sail date. If a trip is interrupted and returns to port due to bad weather or other circumstance beyond the operator's control, and goes back out within 48 hr, the same confirmation number and observer status remains. If the layover time is greater than 48 hr, a new trip notification must be made by the operator, owner, or manager of the vessel.

(3) NE multispecies monitoring program goals and objectives. Monitoring programs established for the NE multispecies are to be designed and evaluated consistent with the following goals and objectives:

(i) Improve documentation of catch:

(A) Determine total catch and effort, for each sector and common pool, of target or regulated species; and

(B) Achieve coverage level sufficient to minimize effects of potential monitoring bias to the extent possible while maintaining as much flexibility as possible to enhance fleet viability.

(ii) Reduce the cost of monitoring:

(A) Streamline data management and eliminate redundancy;

(B) Explore options for cost-sharing and deferment of cost to industry; and

(C) Recognize opportunity costs of insufficient monitoring.

(iii) Incentivize reducing discards:

(A) Determine discard rate by smallest possible strata while maintaining cost-effectiveness; and

(B) Collect information by gear type to accurately calculate discard rates.

(iv) Provide additional data streams for stock assessments:

(A) Reduce management and/or biological uncertainty; and

(B) Perform biological sampling if it may be used to enhance accuracy of mortality or recruitment calculations.

(v) Enhance safety of monitoring program.

(vi) Perform periodic review of monitoring program for effectiveness.

(m) Atlantic herring monitoring coverage—(1) Monitoring requirements. (i) In addition to the requirement for any vessel holding an Atlantic herring permit to carry a NMFS-certified observer described in paragraph (a) of this section, vessels issued a Category A or B Herring Permit are subject to industry-funded monitoring (IFM) requirements on declared Atlantic herring trips, unless the vessel is carrying a NMFS-certified observer to fulfill Standard Bycatch Reporting Methodology requirements. An owner of a midwater trawl vessel, required to carry a NMFS-certified observer when fishing in Northeast Multispecies Closed Areas at §648.202(b), may purchase an IFM high volume fisheries (HVF) observer to access Closed Areas on a trip-by-trip basis. General requirements for IFM programs in New England Council FMPs are specified in paragraph (g) of this section. Possible IFM monitoring for the Atlantic herring fishery includes NMFS-certified observers, at-sea monitors, and electronic monitoring and portside samplers, as defined in §648.2.

(A) IFM HVF observers shall collect the following information:

(1) Fishing gear information (e.g., size of nets, mesh sizes, and gear configurations);

(2) Tow-specific information (e.g., depth, water temperature, wave height, and location and time when fishing begins and ends);

(3) Species, weight, and disposition of all retained and discarded catch (fish, sharks, crustaceans, invertebrates, and debris) on observed hauls;

(4) Species, weight, and disposition of all retained catch on unobserved hauls;

(5) Actual catch weights whenever possible, or alternatively, weight estimates derived by sub-sampling;

(6) Whole specimens, photos, length information, and biological samples (e.g., scales, otoliths, and/or vertebrae from fish, invertebrates, and incidental takes);

(7) Information on interactions with protected species, such as sea turtles, marine mammals, and sea birds; and

(8) Vessel trip costs (i.e., operational costs for trip including food, fuel, oil, and ice).

(B) IFM HVF at-sea monitors shall collect the following information:

(1) Fishing gear information (e.g., size of nets, mesh sizes, and gear configurations);

(2) Tow-specific information (e.g., depth, water temperature, wave height, and location and time when fishing begins and ends);

(3) Species, weight, and disposition of all retained and discarded catch (fish, sharks, crustaceans, invertebrates, and debris) on observed hauls;

(4) Species, weight, and disposition of all retained catch on unobserved hauls;

(5) Actual catch weights whenever possible, or alternatively, weight estimates derived by sub-sampling;

(6) Length data, along with whole specimens and photos to verify species identification, on retained and discarded catch;

(7) Information on and biological samples from interactions with protected species, such as sea turtles, marine mammals, and sea birds; and

(8) Vessel trip costs (i.e., operational costs for trip including food, fuel, oil, and ice).

(9) The New England Council may recommend that at-sea monitors collect additional biological information upon request. Revisions to the duties of an at-sea monitor, such that additional biological information would be collected, may be done via a framework adjustment. At-sea monitor duties may also be revised to collect additional biological information by considering the issue at a public meeting, where public comment is accepted, and requesting NMFS to publish a notice or rulemaking revising the duties for at-sea monitors. NMFS shall implement revisions to at-sea monitor duties in accordance with the APA.

(C) IFM Portside samplers shall collect the following information:

(1) Species, weight, and disposition of all retained catch (fish, sharks, crustaceans, invertebrates, and debris) on sampled trips;

(2) Actual catch weights whenever possible, or alternatively, weight estimates derived by sub-sampling; and

(3) Whole specimens, photos, length information, and biological samples (i.e., scales, otoliths, and/or vertebrae from fish, invertebrates, and incidental takes).

(ii) Vessels issued a Category A or B Herring Permit are subject to IFM at-sea monitoring coverage. If the New England Council determines that electronic monitoring, used in conjunction with portside sampling, is an adequate substitute for at-sea monitoring on vessels fishing with midwater trawl gear, and it is approved by the Regional Administrator as specified in paragraph (m)(1)(iii) of this section, then owners of vessels issued a Category A or B Herring Permit may choose either IFM at-sea monitoring coverage or IFM electronic monitoring and IFM portside sampling coverage, pursuant with requirements in paragraphs (h) and (i) of this section. Once owners of vessels issued a Category A or B Herring Permit may choose an IFM monitoring type, vessel owners must select one IFM monitoring type per fishing year and notify NMFS of their selected IFM monitoring type via selection form six months in advance of the beginning of the SBRM year (October 31). NMFS will provide vessels owners with selection forms no later than September 1 in advance of the beginning of the SBRM year.

(A) In a future framework adjustment, the New England Council may consider if electronic monitoring and portside sampling coverage is an adequate substitute for at-sea monitoring coverage for Atlantic herring vessels that fish with purse seine and/or bottom trawl gear.

(B) IFM coverage targets for the Atlantic herring fishery are calculated by NMFS, in consultation with New England Council staff.

(C) If IFM coverage targets do not match for the Atlantic herring and Atlantic mackerel fisheries, then the higher IFM coverage target would apply on trips declared into both fisheries.

(D) Vessels intending to land less than 50 mt of Atlantic herring are exempt from IFM requirements, provided that the vessel requests and is issued a waiver prior to departing on that trip, consistent with paragraphs (m)(2)(iii)(B) and (m)(3) of this section. Vessels issued a waiver must land less than 50 mt of Atlantic herring on that trip.

(E) A wing vessel (i.e., midwater trawl vessel pair trawling with another midwater trawl vessel) is exempt from IFM requirements on a trip, provided the wing vessel does not possess or land any fish on that trip and requests and is issued a waiver prior to departing on that trip, consistent with paragraphs (m)(2)(iii)(C) and (m)(3) of this section.

(F) Two years after implementation of IFM in the Atlantic herring fishery, the New England Council will examine the results of any increased coverage in the Atlantic herring fishery and consider if adjustments to the IFM coverage targets are warranted.

(iii) Electronic monitoring and portside sampling coverage may be used in place of at-sea monitoring coverage in the Atlantic herring fishery, if the electronic monitoring technology is deemed sufficient by the New England Council. The Regional Administrator, in consultation with the New England Council, may approve the use of electronic monitoring and portside sampling for the Atlantic herring fishery in a manner consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act, with final measures published in the Federal Register. A vessel electing to use electronic monitoring and portside sampling in lieu of at-sea monitoring must develop a vessel monitoring plan to implement an electronic monitoring and portside sampling program that NMFS determines is sufficient for monitoring catch, discards and slippage events. The electronic monitoring and portside sampling program shall be reviewed and approved by NMFS as part of a vessel's monitoring plan on a yearly basis in a manner consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act.

(iv) Owners, operators, or managers of vessels issued a Category A or B Herring Permit are responsible for their vessel's compliance with IFM requirements. When NMFS notifies a vessel owner, operator, or manager of the requirement to have monitoring coverage on a specific declared Atlantic herring trip, that vessel may not fish for, take, retain, possess, or land any Atlantic herring without the required monitoring coverage. Vessels may only embark on a declared Atlantic herring trip without the required monitoring coverage if the vessel owner, operator, and/or manager has been notified that the vessel has received a waiver for the required monitoring coverage for that trip, pursuant to paragraphs (m)(2)(iii)(B) and (C) and (m)(3) of this section.

(v) To provide the required IFM coverage aboard declared Atlantic herring trips, NMFS-certified observers and monitors must hold a high volume fisheries certification from NMFS/FSB. See details of high volume certification at https://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/fsb/training/.

(2) Pre-trip notification.

(ii) The notification to NMFS/FSB must include the following information: Vessel name or permit number; email and telephone number for contact; the date, time, and port of departure; trip length; and gear type.

(iii) For vessels issued a Category A or B Herring Permit, the trip notification must also include the following requests, if appropriate:

(A) For IFM NMFS-certified observer coverage aboard vessels fishing with midwater trawl gear to access the Northeast Multispecies Closed Areas, consistent with requirements at §648.202(b), at any point during the trip;

(B) For a waiver of IFM requirements on a trip that shall land less than 50 mt of Atlantic herring; and

(C) For a waiver of IFM requirements on trip by a wing vessel as described in paragraph (m)(ii)(E) of this section.

(iv) Trip notification must be provided no more than 10 days in advance of each fishing trip. The vessel owner, operator, or manager must notify NMFS/FSB of any trip plan changes at least 12 hr prior to vessel departure from port.

(3) Selection of trips for monitoring coverage. NMFS shall notify the owner, operator, and/or manager of a vessel with an Atlantic herring permit whether a declared Atlantic herring trip requires coverage by a NMFS-funded observer or whether a trip requires IFM coverage. NMFS shall also notify the owner, operator, and/or manager of vessel if a waiver has been granted, either for the NMFS-funded observer or for IFM coverage, as specified in paragraph (m)(2) of this section. All waivers for monitoring coverage shall be issued to the vessel by VMS so that there is an on-board verification of the waiver. A waiver is invalid if the fishing behavior on that trip is inconsistent with the terms of the waiver.

(4) Procurement of monitoring services by Atlantic herring vessels. (i) An owner of an Atlantic herring vessel required to have monitoring under paragraph (m)(3) of this section must arrange for monitoring by an individual certified through training classes operated by the NMFS/FSB and from a monitoring service provider approved by NMFS under paragraph (h) of this section. The owner, operator, or vessel manager of a vessel selected for monitoring must contact a monitoring service provider prior to the beginning of the trip and the monitoring service provider will notify the vessel owner, operator, or manager whether monitoring is available. A list of approved monitoring service providers shall be posted on the NMFS/FSB website at https://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/femad/fsb/.

(ii) An owner, operator, or vessel manager of a vessel that cannot procure monitoring due to the unavailability of monitoring may request a waiver from NMFS/FSB from the requirement for monitoring on that trip, but only if the owner, operator, or vessel manager has contacted all of the available monitoring service providers to secure monitoring and no monitoring is available. NMFS/FSB shall issue a waiver, if the conditions of this paragraph (m)(4)(ii) are met. A vessel without monitoring coverage may not begin a declared Atlantic herring trip without having been issued a waiver.

(iii) Vessel owners shall pay service providers for monitoring services within 45 days of the end of a fishing trip that was monitored.

(5) Vessels working cooperatively. When vessels issued limited access herring permits are working cooperatively in the Atlantic herring fishery, including pair trawling, purse seining, and transferring herring at-sea, each vessel must provide to observers or monitors, when requested, the estimated weight of each species brought on board and the estimated weight of each species released on each tow.

(6) Sampling requirements for NMFS-certified observer and monitors. In addition to the requirements at §648.11(d)(1) through (7), an owner or operator of a vessel issued a limited access herring permit on which a NMFS-certified observer or monitor is embarked must provide observers or monitors:

(i) A safe sampling station adjacent to the fish deck, including: A safety harness, if footing is compromised and grating systems are high above the deck; a safe method to obtain samples; and a storage space for baskets and sampling gear.

(ii) Reasonable assistance to enable observers or monitors to carry out their duties, including but not limited to assistance with: Obtaining and sorting samples; measuring decks, codends, and holding bins; collecting bycatch when requested by the observers or monitors; and collecting and carrying baskets of fish when requested by the observers or monitors.

(iii) Advance notice when pumping will be starting; when sampling of the catch may begin; and when pumping is coming to an end.

(iv) Visual access to the net, the codend of the net, and the purse seine bunt and any of its contents after pumping has ended and before the pump is removed from the net. On trawl vessels, the codend including any remaining contents must be brought on board, unless bringing the codend on board is not possible. If bringing the codend on board is not possible, the vessel operator must ensure that the observer or monitor can see the codend and its contents as clearly as possible before releasing its contents.

(7) Measures to address slippage. (i) No vessel issued a limited access herring permit may slip catch, as defined at §648.2, except in the following circumstances:

(A) The vessel operator has determined, and the preponderance of available evidence indicates that, there is a compelling safety reason; or

(B) A mechanical failure, including gear damage, precludes bringing some or all of the catch on board the vessel for inspection; or

(C) The vessel operator determines that pumping becomes impossible as a result of spiny dogfish clogging the pump intake. The vessel operator shall take reasonable measures, such as strapping and splitting the net, to remove all fish which can be pumped from the net prior to release.

(ii) Vessels may make test tows without pumping catch on board if the net is re-set without releasing its contents provided that all catch from test tows is available to the observer to sample when the next tow is brought on board for sampling.

(iii) If a vessel issued any limited access herring permit slips catch, the vessel operator must report the slippage event on the Atlantic herring daily VMS catch report and indicate the reason for slipping catch. Additionally, the vessel operator must complete and sign a Released Catch Affidavit detailing: The vessel name and permit number; the VTR serial number; where, when, and the reason for slipping catch; the estimated weight of each species brought on board or slipped on that tow. A completed affidavit must be submitted to NMFS within 48 hr of the end of the trip.

(iv) If a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring permit slips catch for any of the reasons described in paragraph (m)(7)(i) of this section when an observer or monitor is aboard, the vessel operator must move at least 15 nm (27.78 km) from the location of the slippage event before deploying any gear again, and must stay at least 15 nm (27.78 km) away from the slippage event location for the remainder of the fishing trip.

(v) If a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring permit slips catch for any reason on a trip selected by NMFS for portside sampling, pursuant to paragraph (m)(3) of this section, the vessel operator must move at least 15 nm (27.78 km) from the location of the slippage event before deploying any gear again, and must stay at least 15 nm (27.78 km) away from the slippage event location for the remainder of the fishing trip.

(vi) If catch is slipped by a vessel issued a Category A or B Herring permit for any reason not described in paragraph (m)(7)(i) of this section when an observer or monitor is aboard, the vessel operator must immediately terminate the trip and return to port. No fishing activity may occur during the return to port.

(n) Atlantic mackerel, squid, and butterfish observer coverage—(1) Pre-trip notification. (i) A vessel issued a limited access Atlantic mackerel permit, as specified at §648.4(a)(5)(iii), must, for the purposes of observer deployment, have a representative provide notice to NMFS of the vessel name, vessel permit number, contact name for coordination of observer deployment, telephone number or email address for contact; and the date, time, port of departure, gear type, and approximate trip duration, at least 48 hr, but no more than 10 days, prior to beginning any fishing trip, unless it complies with the possession restrictions in paragraph (n)(1)(iii) of this section.

(ii) A vessel that has a representative provide notification to NMFS as described in paragraph (n)(1)(i) of this section may only embark on a mackerel trip without an observer if a vessel representative has been notified by NMFS that the vessel has received a waiver of the observer requirement for that trip. NMFS shall notify a vessel representative whether the vessel must carry an observer, or if a waiver has been granted, for the specific mackerel trip, within 24 hr of the vessel representative's notification of the prospective mackerel trip, as specified in paragraph (n)(1)(i) of this section. Any request to carry an observer may be waived by NMFS. A vessel that fishes with an observer waiver confirmation number that does not match the mackerel trip plan that was called in to NMFS is prohibited from fishing for, possessing, harvesting, or landing mackerel except as specified in paragraph (n)(1)(iii) of this section. Confirmation numbers for trip notification calls are only valid for 48 hr from the intended sail date.

(iii) A vessel issued a limited access mackerel permit, as specified in §648.4(a)(5)(iii), that does not have a representative provide the trip notification required in paragraph (n)(1)(i) of this section is prohibited from fishing for, possessing, harvesting, or landing more than 20,000 lb (9.07 mt) of mackerel per trip at any time, and may only land mackerel once on any calendar day, which is defined as the 24-hr period beginning at 0001 hours and ending at 2400 hours.

(iv) If a vessel issued a limited access Atlantic mackerel permit, as specified in §648.4(a)(5)(iii), intends to possess, harvest, or land more than 20,000 lb (9.07 mt) of mackerel per trip or per calendar day, and has a representative notify NMFS of an upcoming trip, is selected by NMFS to carry an observer, and then cancels that trip, the representative is required to provide notice to NMFS of the vessel name, vessel permit number, contact name for coordination of observer deployment, and telephone number or email address for contact, and the intended date, time, and port of departure for the cancelled trip prior to the planned departure time. In addition, if a trip selected for observer coverage is cancelled, then that vessel is required to carry an observer, provided an observer is available, on its next trip.

(2) Sampling requirements for limited access Atlantic mackerel and longfin squid/butterfish moratorium permit holders. In addition to the requirements in paragraphs (d)(1) through (7) of this section, an owner or operator of a vessel issued a limited access Atlantic mackerel or longfin squid/butterfish moratorium permit on which a NMFS-certified observer is embarked must provide observers:

(i) A safe sampling station adjacent to the fish deck, including: A safety harness, if footing is compromised and grating systems are high above the deck; a safe method to obtain samples; and a storage space for baskets and sampling gear.

(ii) Reasonable assistance to enable observers to carry out their duties, including but not limited to assistance with: Obtaining and sorting samples; measuring decks, codends, and holding bins; collecting bycatch when requested by the observers; and collecting and carrying baskets of fish when requested by the observers.

(iii) Advance notice when pumping will be starting; when sampling of the catch may begin; and when pumping is coming to an end.

(3) Measures to address slippage. (i) No vessel issued a limited access Atlantic mackerel permit or a longfin squid/butterfish moratorium permit may slip catch, as defined at §648.2, except in the following circumstances:

(A) The vessel operator has determined, and the preponderance of available evidence indicates that, there is a compelling safety reason; or

(B) A mechanical failure, including gear damage, precludes bringing some or all of the catch on board the vessel for sampling and inspection; or

(C) The vessel operator determines that pumping becomes impossible as a result of spiny dogfish clogging the pump intake. The vessel operator shall take reasonable measures, such as strapping and splitting the net, to remove all fish that can be pumped from the net prior to release.

(ii) If a vessel issued any limited access Atlantic mackerel permit slips catch, the vessel operator must report the slippage event on the Atlantic mackerel and longfin squid daily VMS catch report and indicate the reason for slipping catch. Additionally, vessels issued a limited Atlantic mackerel permit or a longfin squid/butterfish moratorium permit, the vessel operator must complete and sign a Released Catch Affidavit detailing: The vessel name and permit number; the VTR serial number; where, when, and the reason for slipping catch; the estimated weight of each species brought on board or slipped on that tow. A completed affidavit must be submitted to NMFS within 48 hr of the end of the trip.

(iii) If a vessel issued a limited access Atlantic mackerel permit slips catch for any of the reasons described in paragraph (n)(3)(i) of this section, the vessel operator must move at least 15 nm (27.8 km) from the location of the slippage event before deploying any gear again, and must stay at least 15 nm (27.8 km) from the slippage event location for the remainder of the fishing trip.

(iv) If catch is slipped by a vessel issued a limited access Atlantic mackerel permit for any reason not described in paragraph (n)(3)(i) of this section, the vessel operator must immediately terminate the trip and return to port. No fishing activity may occur during the return to port.

[85 FR 7431, Feb. 7, 2020, as amended at 85 FR 26882, May 6, 2020]

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