50 CFR 679.50 - Groundfish Observer Program.

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§ 679.50 Groundfish Observer Program. Link to an amendment published at 77 FR 59060, Sept. 26, 2012.
(a) General. Operators of vessels possessing a Federal fisheries permit under § 679.4(b)(1) and processors that possess a Federal processor permit under § 679.4(f)(1), must comply with this section. The owner of a fishing vessel or a processor subject to this part must ensure that the operator or manager complies with this section and is jointly and severally liable for such compliance. The following table provides a reference to the paragraphs in this section that contain observer coverage requirements for vessels, shoreside processors, and stationary floating processors participating in certain fishery programs or fishing in certain areas. Observer coverage for the CDQ fisheries obtained in compliance with paragraphs (c)(4) and (d)(5) of this section may not be used to comply with observer coverage requirements for non-CDQ groundfish fisheries specified in this section.
Program Catcher/processors Catchervessels Motherships Shoreside andstationary floating processors
(1) CDQ Program (c)(4) (c)(4) (c)(4) (d)(5).
(2) AFA pollock (c)(5)(i)(A) and (B) (c)(1) through (3) (c)(5)(i)(A) (d)(6).
(3) Aleutian Islands pollock (c)(5)(i)(C) (c)(1) through (3) (c)(5)(i)(C) (d)(1) through (4).
(4) Rockfish Program (c)(7)(i) (c)(7)(ii) N/A (d)(1) through (4).
(5) Vessels fishing in the Red King Crab Savings Area (c)(1)(vii) (c)(1)(viii) N/A N/A.
(6) Vessels fishing in the Nearshore Bristol Bay Trawl Closure Area (c)(1)(ix) (c)(1)(ix) N/A N/A.
(7) Vessels fishing in the HLA for Atka mackerel (c)(1)(x) (c)(1)(x) N/A N/A.
(8) Amendment 80 vessels and Non-AFA trawl C/Ps fishing in the BSAI (c)(6) N/A N/A N/A.
(9) Vessels and processors participating in all other BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries (c)(1) through (3), in GOA only (c)(1) through (3) (c)(1) through (3) (d)(1) through (4).
(b) Purpose. The purpose of the Groundfish Observer Program is to allow observers to collect Alaska fisheries data deemed by the Regional Administrator to be necessary and appropriate for management, compliance monitoring, and research of groundfish fisheries and for the conservation of marine resources or their environment.
(c) Observer requirements for vessels.
(1) Unless otherwise specified in paragraphs (c)(4) through (7) of this section, observer coverage is required as follows:
(i) A mothership of any length that processes 1,000 mt or more in round-weight equivalent of groundfish during a calendar month is required to have an observer aboard the vessel each day it receives or processes groundfish during that month.
(ii) A mothership of any length that processes from 500 mt to 1,000 mt in round-weight equivalent of groundfish during a calendar month is required to have an observer aboard the vessel at least 30 percent of the days it receives or processes groundfish during that month.
(iii) Each mothership that receives pollock harvested by catcher vessels in the catcher vessel operational area during the second pollock season that starts on September 1 under § 679.23(e)(2) is required to have a second observer aboard, in addition to the observer required under paragraphs (c)(1) (i) and (ii) of this section, for each day of the second pollock season until the chum salmon savings area is closed under § 679.21(e)(7)(vii), or October 15, whichever occurs first.
(iv) A catcher/processor or catcher vessel 125 ft (38.1 m) LOA or longer must carry an observer during 100 percent of its fishing days except for a vessel fishing for groundfish with pot gear as provided in paragraph (c)(1)(vii) of this section.
(v) A catcher/processor or catcher vessel equal to or greater than 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, but less than 125 ft (38.1 m) LOA, that participates for more than 3 fishing days in a directed fishery for groundfish in a calendar quarter must carry an observer during at least 30 percent of its fishing days in that calendar quarter and at all times during at least one fishing trip in that calendar quarter for each of the groundfish fishery categories defined under paragraph (c)(2) of this section in which the vessel participates.
(vi) A catcher/processor or catcher vessel fishing with hook-and-line gear that is required to carry an observer under paragraph (c)(1)(v) of this section must carry an observer during at least one entire fishing trip using hook-and-line gear in the Eastern GOA regulatory area during each calendar quarter in which the vessel participates in a directed fishery for groundfish in the Eastern Regulatory Area using hook-and-line gear.
(vii) Vessels using pot gear.
(A) A catcher/processor or catcher vessel equal to or greater than 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA fishing with pot gear that participates for more than 3 fishing days in a directed fishery for groundfish in a calendar quarter must carry an observer:
(1) For at least 30 percent of the total number of pot retrievals for that calendar quarter, and
(2) For at least one entire fishing trip using pot gear in a calendar quarter, for each of the groundfish fishery categories defined under paragraph (c)(2) of this section in which the vessel participates.
(B) Groundfish are required to be retained each day that pot gear is retrieved in order for gear retrieved that day to count toward observer coverage requirements for all catcher vessels and catcher/processors using pot gear and required to carry observers.
(viii) Red King Crab Savings Area.
(A) Any catcher/processor or catcher vessel used to fish for groundfish in the Red King Crab Savings area must carry an observer during 100 percent of its fishing days in which the vessel uses pelagic trawl gear, pot, jig, or longline gear.
(B) Any catcher/processor or catcher vessel used to fish for groundfish in the Red King Crab Savings Subarea and subject to this subarea being open to vessels fishing for groundfish with non-pelagic trawl gear under § 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B), must carry an observer during 100 percent of its fishing days in which the vessel uses non-pelagic trawl gear.
(ix) Nearshore Bristol Bay Trawl Closure. Any catcher/processor or catcher vessel used to fish for groundfish in the Nearshore Bristol Bay Trawl Closure area must carry an observer during 100 percent of its fishing days in which the vessel uses trawl gear.
(2) Groundfish fishery categories requiring separate coverage. Directed fishing for groundfish, during any fishing trip, that results:
(i) Pollock fishery. In a retained catch of pollock that is greater than the retained catch of any other groundfish species or species group that is specified as a separate groundfish fishery under this paragraph (c)(2) and in a retained catch of pollock harvested in the AI directed pollock fishery.
(ii) Pacific cod fishery. In a retained catch of Pacific cod that is greater than the retained catch of any other groundfish species or species group that is specified as a separate groundfish fishery under this paragraph (c)(2).
(iii) Sablefish fishery. In a retained catch of IFQ and CDQ sablefish that is greater than the retained catch of any other groundfish species or species group that is specified as a separate groundfish fishery under this paragraph (c)(2).
(iv) Rockfish fishery. In a retained aggregate catch of rockfish that is greater than the retained catch of any other groundfish species or species group that is specified as a separate groundfish fishery under this paragraph (c)(2).
(v) Flatfish fishery. In a retained aggregate catch of all flatfish species, except Pacific halibut, that is greater than the retained catch of any other groundfish species or species group that is specified as a separate groundfish fishery under this paragraph (c)(2).
(vi) Other species fishery. In a retained catch of groundfish that does not qualify as a pollock, Pacific cod, sablefish, rockfish, or flatfish fishery as defined under paragraphs (c)(2) (i) through (v) of this section.
(vii) Rockfish Program. In retained catch from Rockfish Program fisheries.
(3) Assignment of vessels to fisheries. At the end of any fishing trip, a vessel's retained catch of groundfish species or species groups for which a TAC has been specified under § 679.20, in round-weight equivalent, will determine to which fishery category listed under paragraph (c)(2) of this section the vessel is assigned.
(i) Catcher/processors. A catcher/processor will be assigned to a fishery category based on the retained groundfish catch composition reported on the vessel's production report submitted to the Regional Administrator under § 679.5(e)(10).
(ii) Catcher vessel delivery in Federal waters. A catcher vessel that delivers to a mothership in Federal waters will be assigned to a fishery category based on the retained groundfish catch composition reported on the production reports submitted to the Regional Administrator under § 679.5(e)(10).
(iii) Catcher vessel delivery in Alaska State waters. A catcher vessel that delivers groundfish to a shoreside processor or stationary floating processor will be assigned to a fishery category based on the retained groundfish catch composition reported on one or more ADF&G fish tickets as required under Alaska Statutes at A.S. 16.05.690.
(4) Fixed gear sablefish CDQ, pollock CDQ, and groundfish CDQ fisheries. The owner or operator of a vessel fishing for sablefish CDQ with fixed gear, pollock CDQ fishing, or groundfish CDQ fishing as defined in § 679.2 must comply with the following observer coverage requirements while transporting (catcher vessel only), harvesting, processing, or taking delivery of CDQ or PSQ species.
(i) Fixed gear sablefish CDQ fishery. Catcher vessels and catcher/processor vessels equal to or greater than 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA participating in the fixed gear sablefish CDQ fishery must comply with the observer coverage requirements in paragraphs (c)(1)(iv) through (viii) and (c)(2)(iii) of this section.
(ii) Pollock CDQ fishery—
(A) A catcher/processor that is pollock CDQ fishing or a mothership taking deliveries from catcher vessels that are pollock CDQ fishing must comply with the observer coverage and workload requirements in paragraph (c)(5) of this section.
(B) A catcher vessel that is pollock CDQ fishing must comply with the observer coverage requirements in paragraph (c)(5)(i)(D) of this section.
(iii) Groundfish CDQ fisheries—
(A) Catcher/processors using trawl gear. A catcher/processor not listed in § 679.4(l)(2)(i) using trawl gear and groundfish CDQ fishing, except catcher/processors directed fishing for pollock CDQ, must comply with the observer coverage requirements at paragraph (c)(6)(i) of this section and the catch monitoring requirements in § 679.93(c).
(B) Motherships. A mothership that receives groundfish CDQ species from catcher vessels using trawl gear to participate in a directed fishery for CDQ groundfish species must have at least two level 2 observers as described at paragraphs (j)(1)(v)(D) and (E) of this section aboard the vessel, at least one of whom must be certified as a lead level 2 observer.
(C) Catcher/processors using hook-and-line gear. A catcher/processor using hook-and-line gear to directed fish for groundfish CDQ species must have at least two level 2 observers as described at paragraphs (j)(1)(v)(D) and (E) of this section aboard the vessel, unless NMFS approves an alternative fishing plan under § 679.32(c)(3) authorizing the vessel to carry only one lead level 2 observer. At least one of the level 2 observers must be certified as a lead level 2 observer.
(D) Catcher/processors using pot gear. A catcher/processor using pot gear to directed fish for groundfish CDQ species must have at least one lead level 2 observer as described at paragraphs (j)(1)(v)(D) and (E) of this section aboard the vessel.
(E) Catcher vessels. A catcher vessel equal to or greater than 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA using any gear to directed fish for groundfish CDQ species, except a catcher vessel using trawl gear that delivers only unsorted codends to a mothership or catcher/processor, must have at least one level 2 observer as described at paragraph (j)(1)(v)(D) of this section aboard the vessel.
(F) Limitations. The time required for the level 2 observer to complete sampling, data recording, and data communication duties shall not exceed 12 hours in each 24-hour period, and, the level 2 observer is required to sample no more than 9 hours in each 24-hour period.
(5) AFA and AI directed pollock fishery.—
(i) Coverage requirement—
(A) Listed AFA catcher/processors and AFA motherships. The owner or operator of a listed AFA catcher/processor or AFA mothership must provide at least two observers, at least one of which must be certified as a lead level 2 observer, for each day that the vessel is used to harvest, process, or take deliveries of groundfish. More than two observers are required if the observer workload restriction at paragraph (c)(5)(ii) of this section would otherwise preclude sampling as required under § 679.63(a)(1).
(B) Unlisted AFA catcher/processors. The owner or operator of an unlisted AFA catcher/processor must provide at least two observers for each day that the vessel is used to engage in directed fishing for pollock in the BSAI, or takes deliveries of pollock harvested in the BSAI. At least one observer must be certified as a lead level 2 observer. When an unlisted AFA catcher/processor is not engaged in directed fishing for BSAI pollock and is not receiving deliveries of pollock harvested in the BSAI, the observer coverage requirements at paragraph (c)(1)(iv) of this section apply.
(C) AI directed pollock fishery catcher/processors and motherships. A catcher/processor participating in the AI directed pollock fishery or a mothership processing pollock harvested in the AI directed pollock fishery must have on board at least two observers, at least one of which must be certified as a lead level 2 observer, for each day that the vessel is used to harvest, process, or take deliveries of groundfish. More than two observers are required if the observer workload restriction at paragraph (c)(5)(ii) of this section would otherwise preclude sampling as required under § 679.63(a)(1).
(D) AFA catcher vessels in the BS pollock fishery. A catcher vessel using trawl gear, except a catcher vessel that delivers only unsorted codends to a processor or another vessel, must have at least one observer aboard the vessel at all times while it is directed fishing for pollock in the BS.
(ii) Observer work load. The time required for the observer to complete sampling, data recording, and data communication duties may not exceed 12 consecutive hours in each 24-hour period, and the observer may not sample more than 9 hours in each 24-hour period.
(6) Amendment 80 vessels and non-AFA trawl catcher/processors—
(i) Amendment 80 vessels and catcher/processors not listed in § 679.4(1)(2)(i) and using trawl gear in the BSAI. All Amendment 80 vessels using any gear but dredge gear while directed fishing for scallops and catcher/processors not listed in § 679.4(1)(2)(i) and using trawl gear in the BSAI must have onboard at least two observers for each day that the vessel is used to harvest, receive, or process groundfish in the BSAI or adjacent waters open by the State of Alaska for which it adopts a Federal fishing season.
(A) Observer lead level 2 requirements. At least one of the observers required under this paragraph (c)(6)(i) must be endorsed as a lead level 2 observer. More than two observers are required if the observer workload restriction at paragraph (c)(6)(i)(B) of this section would otherwise preclude sampling as required.
(B) Observer workload. The time required for the observer to complete sampling, data recording, and data communication duties must not exceed 12 consecutive hours in each 24-hour period.
(ii) Amendment 80 vessels in the GOA. Except for the F/V GOLDEN FLEECE (USCG Documentation Number 609951), all Amendment 80 vessels, except when directed fishing for scallops using dredge gear, in the GOA must have onboard at least one observer for each day that the vessel is used to harvest, receive, or process groundfish in the GOA management areas or adjacent waters open by the State of Alaska for which it adopts a Federal fishing season.
(7) Rockfish Program—
(i) Catcher/processor—
(A) Rockfish cooperative. A catcher/processor that is named on an LLP license that is assigned to a rockfish cooperative and is fishing under the authority of a CQ permit must have at least two observers onboard for each day that the vessel is used to harvest or process in the Central GOA from May 1 through the earlier of:
(1) November 15; or
(2) The effective date and time of an approved rockfish cooperative termination of fishing declaration.
(B) Rockfish sideboard fishery for catcher/processors in a rockfish cooperative. A catcher/processor that is subject to a sideboard limit as described under § 679.82(e) must have at least two observers onboard for each day that the vessel is used to harvest or process fish in the West Yakutat District, Central GOA, or Western GOA management areas from July 1 through July 31.
(C) Observer lead level 2 requirements. At least one of these observers must be endorsed as a lead level 2 observer. More than two observers are required if the observer workload restriction at paragraph (c)(7)(i)(E) of this section would otherwise preclude sampling as required.
(D) Observer workload. The time required for the observer to complete sampling, data recording, and data communication duties may not exceed 12 consecutive hours in each 24-hour period.
(E) Sideboard fishery for catcher/processors not in a rockfish cooperative. A catcher/processor vessel that is subject to a sideboard limit as described under § 679.82(e) and (f), must have at least one observer onboard for each day that the vessel is used to harvest or process in the West Yakutat District, Central GOA, or Western GOA management areas from July 1 through July 31.
(ii) Catcher vessels—rockfish cooperative. A catcher vessel that is named on an LLP license that is assigned to a rockfish cooperative and fishing under the authority of a CQ permit must have an observer onboard at all times the vessel is used to harvest fish in the Central GOA from May 1 through the earlier of:
(A) November 15; or
(B) The effective date and time of an approved rockfish cooperative termination of fishing declaration.
(iii) Observer coverage limitations. Observer coverage requirements under paragraph (c)(7) of this section are in addition to observer coverage requirements in other fisheries. Observer coverage of groundfish harvested by vessels described under paragraph (c)(7) of this section are not counted for purposes of meeting minimum observer coverage requirements applicable to any groundfish fishery described under paragraphs (c)(2)(i) through (c)(2)(vi) of this section.
(d) Observer requirements for shoreside processors and stationary floating processors. Observer coverage is required as follows. A shoreside processor or stationary floating processor that:
(1) Processes 1,000 mt or more in round-weight equivalent of groundfish during a calendar month is required to have an observer present at the facility each day it receives or processes groundfish during that month.
(2) Processes 500 mt to 1,000 mt in round-weight equivalent of groundfish during a calendar month is required to have an observer present at the facility at least 30 percent of the days it receives or processes groundfish during that month.
(3) Is subject to observer requirements specified in paragraph (d)(1) of this section that receives pollock or Pacific cod, may reduce observer coverage in the event that a directed fishery for such species closes, subject to the following conditions:
(i) The shoreside or stationary floating processor must maintain observer coverage for 30 percent of all days that groundfish are received or processed, beginning on the fourth calendar day following the day that the directed fishery for pollock or Pacific cod was closed and ending on the last day of the month, except as allowed in this paragraph (d)(3)(iv) of this section.
(ii) Observer coverage for the month following the month with reduced observer coverage will be based on monthly landings projections and thresholds as specified in paragraphs (d)(1) and (2) of this section, but may also be reduced for that subsequent month as specified in this paragraph (d)(3) of this section.
(iii) Total groundfish landings received by a shoreside or stationary floating processor under reduced observer coverage as authorized under this paragraph (d)(3) may not exceed 250 mt per calendar week.
(iv) If greater than 250 mt in round weight equivalent of groundfish are projected to be received in a given calendar week by a shoreside or stationary floating processor during a month with reduced observer coverage, as authorized under this paragraph (d)(3), the shoreside or stationary floating processor must return to observer coverage requirements as specified in paragraph (d)(1) of this section until all fish received during that week is processed. The shoreside or stationary floating processor may then return to reduced observer coverage as authorized under this paragraph (d)(3) for the remainder of the calendar month.
(4) Offloads pollock at more than one location on the same dock and has distinct and separate equipment at each location to process those pollock and that receives pollock harvested by catcher vessels in the catcher vessel operational area.
(5) Accepts deliveries of fixed gear sablefish CDQ, pollock CDQ, and groundfish CDQ must comply with the following observer coverage requirements.
(i) Fixed gear sablefish CDQ fishery. Shoreside processors or stationary floating processors taking delivery of fixed gear sablefish CDQ must comply with the observer coverage requirements in paragraphs (d)(1) and (d)(2) of this section.
(ii) Pollock CDQ fishery. Each shoreside processor or stationary floating processor taking delivery of pollock CDQ must comply with the observer coverage requirements and duty restrictions in paragraph (d)(6) of this section.
(iii) Groundfish CDQ fisheries. Each shoreside processor or stationary floating processor taking deliveries of groundfish CDQ must have at least one level 2 observer as described at paragraph (j)(1)(v)(D) of this section present at all times while groundfish CDQ is being received or processed.
(iv) Observer working hours. The time required for the level 2 observer to complete sampling, data recording, and data communication duties may not exceed 12 hours in each 24-hour period, and the level 2 observer is required to sample no more than 9 hours in each 24-hour period.
(6) AFA inshore processors—
(i) Coverage level. An AFA inshore processor is required to provide an observer for each 12 consecutive hour period of each calendar day during which the processor takes delivery of, or processes, groundfish harvested by a vessel engaged in a directed pollock fishery in the BSAI. An AFA inshore processor that takes delivery of or processes pollock harvested in the BSAI directed pollock fishery for more than 12 consecutive hours in a calendar day is required to provide two observers for each such day.
(ii) Multiple processors. An observer deployed to an AFA inshore processor may not be assigned to cover more than one processor during a calendar day in which the processor receives or processes pollock harvested in the BSAI directed pollock fishery.
(iii) Observers transferring between vessels and processors. An observer transferring from an AFA catcher vessel to an AFA inshore processor may not be assigned to cover the AFA inshore processor until at least 12 hours after offload and sampling of the catcher vessel's delivery is completed.
(e) NMFS staff observers.
(1) Any vessel, shoreside processor, or stationary floating processor required to comply with observer coverage requirements under paragraphs (c) or (d) of this section or under § 679.7(f)(4) or a catcher vessel less than 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA that is participating in the AI directed pollock fishery must use, upon written notification by the Regional Administrator, NMFS' staff or an individual authorized by NMFS to satisfy observer coverage requirements as specified in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section or for other conservation and management purpose.
(2) Prior to deployment of NMFS staff or individuals authorized by NMFS, the agency will provide written notification to the owner or operator of a vessel, shoreside processor, or stationary floating processor whether observer coverage credit will be granted for that deployment.
(3) Vessel, shoreside processor, and stationary floating processor owners and operators, as well as observers and observer providers, may contact NMFS in writing to request assistance in improving observer data quality and resolving observer sampling issues. Requests may be submitted to: NMFS Observer Program Office, P.O. Box 15700, Seattle, Washington 98115-0070 or transmitted by facsimile to 206-526-4066.
(f) Inseason adjustments in observer coverage requirements.
(1) The Regional Administrator may adjust the observer coverage requirements set out under paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section at any time to improve the accuracy, reliability, and availability of observer data, so long as the changes are based on one or more of the following:
(i) A finding that fishing methods, times, or areas, or catch or bycatch composition for a specific fishery or fleet component have changed significantly, or are likely to change significantly.
(ii) A finding that such modifications are necessary to improve data availability or quality in order to meet specific fishery management objectives.
(2) Procedure. Observer coverage requirements may be adjusted in accordance with § 679.25(c). NMFS must publish changes in observer coverage requirements in the Federal Register, with the reasons for the changes and any special instructions to vessels, shoreside processors or stationary floating processors required to carry observers, at least 10 calendar days prior to their effective date.
(g) Responsibilities—
(1) Vessel responsibilities. An operator of a vessel required to carry one or more observers must:
(i) Accommodations and food. Provide, at no cost to observers or the United States, accommodations and food on the vessel for the observer or observers that are equivalent to those provided for officers, engineers, foremen, deck-bosses or other management level personnel of the vessel.
(ii) Safe conditions.
(A) Maintain safe conditions on the vessel for the protection of observers including adherence to all U.S. Coast Guard and other applicable rules, regulations, or statutes pertaining to safe operation of the vessel.
(B) Have on board:
(1) A valid Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Decal issued within the past 2 years that certifies compliance with regulations found in 33 CFR Chapter I and 46 CFR Chapter I;
(2) A certificate of compliance issued pursuant to 46 CFR 28.710; or
(3) A valid certificate of inspection pursuant to 46 U.S.C. 3311.
(iii) Transmission of data. Facilitate transmission of observer data by:
(A) Observer use of equipment. Allowing observers to use the vessel's communications equipment and personnel, on request, for the confidential entry, transmission, and receipt of work-related messages, at no cost to the observers or the nation.
(B) Communication equipment requirements. In the case of an operator of a catcher/processor or mothership that is required to carry one or more observers, or a catcher vessel required to carry an observer as specified in paragraph (c)(1)(iv) or (c)(7)(ii) of this section:
(1) Observer access to computer. Making a computer available for use by the observer. This computer must be connected to a communication device that provides a point-to-point connection to the NMFS host computer.
(2) NMFS-supplied software. Ensuring that the catcher/processor, mothership, or catcher vessel specified in this paragraph (g)(1) has installed the most recent release of NMFS data entry software provided by the Regional Administrator, or other approved software.
(3) Functional and operational equipment. Ensuring that the communication equipment required in this paragraph (g)(1)(iii)(B) and that is used by observers to enter and transmit data, is fully functional and operational. “Functional” means that all the tasks and components of the NMFS supplied, or other approved, software described at paragraph (g)(1)(iii)(B)(2) of this section and the data transmissions to NMFS can be executed effectively aboard the vessel by the communications equipment.
(iv) Vessel position. Allow observers access to, and the use of, the vessel's navigation equipment and personnel, on request, to determine the vessel's position.
(v) Access. Allow observers free and unobstructed access to the vessel's bridge, trawl or working decks, holding bins, processing areas, freezer spaces, weight scales, cargo holds, and any other space that may be used to hold, process, weigh, or store fish or fish products at any time.
(vi) Prior notification. Notify observers at least 15 minutes before fish are brought on board, or fish and fish products are transferred from the vessel, to allow sampling the catch or observing the transfer, unless the observers specifically request not to be notified.
(vii) Records. Allow observers to inspect and copy the vessel's DFL, DCPL, product transfer forms, any other logbook or document required by regulations, printouts or tallies of scale weights, scale calibration records, bin sensor readouts, and production records.
(viii) Assistance. Provide all other reasonable assistance to enable observers to carry out their duties, including, but not limited to:
(A) Measuring decks, codends, and holding bins.
(B) Providing the observers with a safe work area adjacent to the sample collection site.
(C) Collecting bycatch when requested by the observers.
(D) Collecting and carrying baskets of fish when requested by observers.
(E) Allowing observers to determine the sex of fish when this procedure will not decrease the value of a significant portion of the catch.
(F) Collecting all seabirds that are incidentally taken on the observer-sampled portions of hauls using hook-and-line gear or as requested by an observer during non-sampled portions of hauls.
(ix) Transfer at sea.
(A) Ensure that transfers of observers at sea are carried out during daylight hours, under safe conditions, and with the agreement of observers involved.
(B) Notify observers at least 3 hours before observers are transferred, such that the observers can collect personal belongings, equipment, and scientific samples.
(C) Provide a safe pilot ladder and conduct the transfer to ensure the safety of observers during transfers.
(D) Provide an experienced crew member to assist observers in the small boat or raft in which any transfer is made.
(2) Shoreside processor and stationary floating processor responsibilities. A manager of a shoreside processor or a stationary floating processor that is required to maintain observer coverage as specified under paragraph (d) of this section must:
(i) Safe conditions. Maintain safe conditions at the shoreside processing facility for the protection of observers by adhering to all applicable rules, regulations, or statutes pertaining to safe operation and maintenance of the processing facility.
(ii) Operations information. Notify the observers, as requested, of the planned facility operations and expected receipt of groundfish prior to receipt of those fish.
(iii) Transmission of data. Facilitate transmission of observer data by:
(A) Observer use of equipment. Allowing observers to use the shoreside processor's or stationary floating processor's communication equipment and personnel, on request, for the entry, transmission, and receipt of work-related messages, at no cost to the observers or the United States.
(B) Communication equipment requirements— (1) Observer access to computer. Making a computer available for use by the observer. This computer must be connected to a communication device that provides a point-to-point connection to the NMFS host computer.
(2) NMFS-supplied software. Ensuring that the shoreside or stationary floating processor specified in paragraph (g)(2) of this section has installed the most recent release of NMFS data entry software provided by the Regional Administrator, or other approved software.
(3) Functional and operational equipment. Ensuring that the communication equipment required in paragraph (g)(2)(iii)(B) of this section and that is used by observers to enter and transmit data, is fully functional and operational. “Functional” means that all the tasks and components of the NMFS supplied, or other approved, software described at paragraph (g)(2)(iii)(B)(2) of this section and the data transmissions to NMFS can be executed effectively aboard the vessel by the communications equipment.
(v) Document access. Allow observers to inspect and copy the shoreside processor's or stationary floating processor's DCPL, product transfer forms, any other logbook or document required by regulations; printouts or tallies of scale weights; scale calibration records; bin sensor readouts; and production records.
(vi) Assistance. Provide all other reasonable assistance to enable the observer to carry out his or her duties, including, but not limited to:
(A) Assisting the observer in moving and weighing totes of fish.
(B) Cooperating with product recovery tests.
(C) Providing a secure place to store baskets of sampling gear.
(3) The owner of a vessel, shoreside processor, stationary floating processor, or buying station is responsible for compliance and must ensure that the operator or manager of a vessel, shoreside processor, or stationary floating processor required to maintain observer coverage under paragraphs (c) or (d) of this section complies with the requirements given in paragraphs (g)(1) and (g)(2) of this section.
(h) Procurement of observer services. Owners of vessels, shoreside processors, or stationary floating processors required to use observers under paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section must arrange for observer services from a permitted observer provider, except that:
(1) Owners of vessels, shoreside processors, or stationary floating processors are required to procure observer services directly from NMFS when the agency has determined and notified them under paragraph (e) of this section that their vessel, shoreside processor, or stationary floating processor will use NMFS staff or an individual authorized by NMFS in lieu of an observer provided through a permitted observer provider to satisfy requirements under paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section or for other conservation and management purposes.
(2) Owners of vessels, shoreside processors, or stationary floating processors are required to procure observer services directly from NMFS and a permitted observer provider when NMFS has determined and notified them under paragraph (e) of this section, that their vessel, shoreside processor, or stationary floating processor will use NMFS staff or individuals authorized by NMFS, in addition to an observer provided through an observer provider to satisfy requirements under paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section or for other conservation and management purposes.
(i) Observer provider permitting and responsibilities—
(1) Observer provider permits—
(i) General. (A) The Regional Administrator may issue a permit authorizing a person's participation as an observer provider. Persons seeking to provide observer services under this section must obtain an observer provider permit from NMFS.
(B) New observer providers. An applicant seeking an observer provider permit must submit a completed application by fax or mail to the Observer Program Office at the address listed in paragraph (e)(3) of this section.
(C) Existing observer providers as of 2002. NMFS-certified providers who deployed observers under the North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program in 2002 are exempt from the requirement to apply for a permit and will be issued an observer provider permit, except that a change in ownership of an existing observer provider after January 1, 2003, requires a new permit application under paragraph (i)(1)(vi) of this section if the change involves a new person. Such observer providers must submit to the Observer Program Office within 30 days of receiving the observer provider permit issued under this paragraph any changes or corrections regarding information required under paragraphs (i)(1)(ii)(A) and (i)(1)(ii)(B) of this section.
(ii) Contents of application. An application for an observer provider permit shall consist of a narrative that contains the following:
(A) 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.
(B) Contact information— (1) Owner(s) information. The permanent mailing address, phone and fax numbers where the owner(s) can be contacted for official correspondence.
(2) Business information. Current physical location, business mailing address, business telephone and fax numbers, and business e-mail address for each office.
(3) Authorized agent. For observer providers with ownership based outside the United States, identify an authorized agent and provide contact information for that agent including mailing address and phone and fax numbers where the agent can be contacted for official correspondence. An authorized agent means a person appointed and maintained within the United States who is authorized to receive and respond to any legal process issued in the United States to an owner or employee of an observer provider. Any diplomatic official accepting such an appointment as designated agent waives diplomatic or other immunity in connection with the process.
(C) 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 (i)(3) of this section.
(D) A statement signed under penalty of perjury from each owner, or owners, board members, and officers if a corporation, describing any criminal convictions, Federal contracts they have had and the performance rating they received on the contract, and previous decertification action while working as an observer or observer provider.
(E) 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.
(F) A description of the applicant's ability to carry out the responsibilities and duties of an observer provider as set out under paragraph (i)(2) of this section, and the arrangements to be used.
(iii) Application evaluation.
(A) The Regional Administrator will establish an observer provider permit application review board, composed of NMFS staff, to review and evaluate an application submitted under paragraph (i)(1) of this section. The review board will evaluate the completeness of the application, the application's consistency with needs and objectives of the observer program, or other relevant factors, and the following criteria for each owner, or owners, board members, and officers if a corporation:
(1) Absence of conflict of interest as defined under paragraph (i)(3) of this section;
(2) Absence of criminal convictions related to:
(i) Embezzlement, theft, forgery, bribery, falsification or destruction of records, making false statements or receiving stolen property, or
(ii) The commission of any other crimes of dishonesty, as defined by Alaska State law or Federal law that would seriously and directly affect the fitness of an applicant in providing observer services under this section;
(3) Satisfactory performance ratings on any Federal contracts held by the applicant; and
(4) Absence of any history of decertification as either an observer or observer provider;
(B) [Reserved]
(iv) Agency determination on an application. NMFS will send a written determination to the applicant. If an application is approved, NMFS will issue an observer provider permit to the applicant. If an application is denied, the reason for denial will be explained in the written determination:
(v) Transferability. An observer provider permit is not transferable. An observer provider that experiences a change in ownership that involves a new person must submit a new permit application and cannot continue to operate until a new permit is issued under this paragraph.
(vi) Expiration of Permit.
(A) The observer provider permit will expire after a period of 12 continuous months during which no observers are deployed by the provider under this section to the North Pacific groundfish industry.
(B) The Regional Administrator will provide a written initial administrative determination (IAD) to an observer provider if NMFS's deployment records indicate that the permit has expired. An observer provider who receives an IAD of permit expiration may appeal under § 679.43. A permit holder who appeals the IAD will be issued an extension of the expiration date of the permit until after the final resolution of that appeal.
(vii) Sanctions. Procedures governing sanctions of permits are found at subpart D of 15 CFR part 904.
(2) Responsibilities of observer providers. Observer providers must:
(i) Provide qualified candidates to serve as observers.
(A) To be qualified, a candidate must have:
(1) A Bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited college or university with a major in one of the natural sciences;
(2) Successfully completed a minimum of 30 semester hours or equivalent in applicable biological sciences with extensive use of dichotomous keys in at least one course;
(3) Successfully completed at least one undergraduate course each in math and statistics with a minimum of 5 semester hours total for both; and
(4) Computer skills that enable the candidate to work competently with standard database software and computer hardware.
(B) Prior to hiring an observer candidate, the observer provider must provide to the candidate copies of NMFS-provided pamphlets and other literature describing observer duties.
(C) For each observer employed by an observer provider, either a written contract or a written contract addendum must exist that is signed by the observer and observer provider prior to the observer's deployment and that contains the following provisions for continued employment:
(1) That all the observer's in-season catch messages between the observer and NMFS are delivered to the Observer Program Office at least every 7 days, unless otherwise specified by the Observer Program;
(2) That the observer completes in-person mid-deployment data reviews, unless:
(i) The observer is specifically exempted by the Observer Program, or
(ii) The observer does not at any time during their deployment travel through a location where Observer Program staff are available for an in-person data review and the observer completes a phone or fax mid-deployment data review as described in the observer manual; and
(3) The observer inform the observer provider prior to the time of embarkation if he or she is experiencing any new mental illness or physical ailments or injury since submission of the physician's statement as required in paragraph (i)(2)(xi)(C) of this section that would prevent him or her from performing their assigned duties;
(ii) Ensure that observers complete duties in a timely manner. An observer provider must ensure that observers employed by that observer provider do the following in a complete and timely manner:
(A) Once an observer is scheduled for a final deployment debriefing under paragraph (i)(2)(xi)(E) of this section, submit to NMFS all data, reports required by the Observer Manual, and biological samples from the observer's deployment by the completion of the electronic vessel and/or processor survey(s);
(B) Complete NMFS electronic vessel and/or processor surveys before performing other jobs or duties which are not part of NMFS groundfish observer requirements;
(C) Report for his or her scheduled debriefing and complete all debriefing responsibilities; and
(D) Return all sampling and safety gear to the Observer Program Office.
(iii) Observer conduct.
(A) An observer provider must develop, maintain, and implement a policy addressing observer conduct and behavior for their employees that serve as observers. The policy shall address the following behavior and conduct regarding:
(1) Observer use of alcohol;
(2) Observer use, possession, or distribution of illegal drugs; and
(3) Sexual contact with personnel of the vessel or processing facility to which the observer is assigned, or with any vessel or processing plant personnel who may be substantially affected by the performance or non-performance of the observer's official duties.
(B) An observer provider shall provide a copy of its conduct and behavior policy:
(1) To observers, observer candidates; and
(2) By February 1 of each year to the Observer Program Office.
(iv) Observer vessel and processor assignment. An observer provider must assign to vessels or shoreside or floating processors only observers:
(A) With valid North Pacific groundfish observer certifications and endorsements to provide observer services;
(B) Who have not informed the provider prior to the time of embarkation that he or she is experiencing a mental illness or a physical ailment or injury developed since submission of the physician's statement, as required in paragraph (i)(2)(xi)(C) of this section that would prevent him or her from performing his or her assigned duties; and
(C) Who have successfully completed all NMFS required training and briefing before deployment.
(v) Response to industry requests for observers. An observer provider must provide an observer for deployment as requested by vessels and processors to fulfill vessel and processor requirements for observer coverage under sections (c) and (d) of this section. An alternate observer must be supplied in each case where injury or illness prevents the observer from performing his or her duties or where the observer resigns prior to completion of his or her duties.
(vi) Observer salaries and benefits. An observer provider must provide to its observer employees salaries and any other benefits and personnel services in accordance with the terms of each observer's contract.
(vii) Observer deployment logistics.
(A) An observer provider must provide to each of its observers under contract:
(1) All necessary transportation, including arrangements and logistics, of observers to the initial location of deployment, to all subsequent vessel and shoreside or stationary floating processor assignments during that deployment, and to the debriefing location when a deployment ends for any reason; and
(2) Lodging, per diem, and any other services necessary to observers assigned to fishing vessels or shoreside or stationary floating processing facilities.
(B) Except as provided in paragraphs (i)(2)(vii)(C) and (i)(2)(vii)(D) of this section, each observer deployed to a shoreside processing facility or stationary floating processor, and each observer between vessel, stationary floating processor or shoreside assignments while still under contract with a permitted observer provider, shall be provided with accommodations at a licensed hotel, motel, bed and breakfast, stationary floating processor, or other shoreside accommodations for the duration of each shoreside assignment or period between vessel or shoreside assignments. Such accommodations must include an assigned bed for each observer and no other person may be assigned that bed for the duration of that observer's stay. Additionally, no more than four beds may be in any room housing observers at accommodations meeting the requirements of this section.
(C) An observer under contract may be housed on a vessel to which he or she is assigned:
(1) Prior to their vessel's initial departure from port;
(2) For a period not to exceed twenty-four hours following the completion of an offload when the observer has duties and is scheduled to disembark; or
(3) For a period not to exceed twenty-four hours following the vessel's arrival in port when the observer is scheduled to disembark.
(D) During all periods an observer is housed on a vessel, the observer provider must ensure that the vessel operator or at least one crew member is aboard.
(E) Each observer deployed to shoreside processing facilities shall be provided with individually assigned communication equipment in working order, such as a cell phone or pager for notification of upcoming deliveries or other necessary communication. Each observer assigned to a shoreside processing facility located more than 1 mile from the observer's local accommodations shall be provided with motorized transportation that will ensure the observer's arrival at the processing facility in a timely manner such that the observer can complete his or her assigned duties.
(viii) Observer deployment limitations. Unless alternative arrangements are approved by the Observer Program Office, an observer provider must not:
(A) Deploy an observer on the same vessel or at the same shoreside or stationary floating processor for more than 90 days in a 12-month period;
(B) Deploy an observer for more than 90 days in a single deployment;
(C) Include in a single deployment of an observer assignments to more than four vessels, including groundfish and all other vessels, and/or shoreside processors; or
(D) Move an observer from a vessel or stationary floating or shoreside processor before that observer has completed his or her sampling or data transmission duties.
(ix) Vessel safety decal verification. An observer provider must verify that a vessel has a valid USCG safety decal as required under paragraph (g)(1)(ii)(B) of this section before an observer may get underway aboard the vessel. One of the following acceptable means of verification must be used to verify the decal validity:
(A) An employee of the observer provider, including the observer, visually inspects the decal aboard the vessel and confirms that the decal is valid according to the decal date of issuance; or
(B) The observer provider receives a hard copy of the USCG documentation of the decal issuance from the vessel owner or operator.
(x) Communications with observers. An observer provider must have an employee responsible for observer activities on call 24 hours a day to handle emergencies involving observers or problems concerning observer logistics, whenever observers are at sea, stationed at shoreside or stationary floating processors, in transit, or in port awaiting vessel or processor reassignment.
(xi) Communications with the Observer Program Office. An observer provider must provide all of the following information to the Observer Program Office by electronic transmission (e-mail), fax, or other method specified by NMFS.
(A) Observer training and briefing. Observer training and briefing registration materials. This information must be submitted to the Observer Program Office at least 5 business days prior to the beginning of a scheduled observer certification training or briefing session. Registration materials consist of the following:
(1) Observer training registration, including:
(i) Date of requested training;
(ii) A list of observer candidates. The list must include each candidate's full name (i.e., first, middle and last names), date of birth, and sex;
(iii) A copy of each candidate's academic transcripts and resume; and
(iv) A statement signed by the candidate under penalty of perjury which discloses the candidate's criminal convictions.
(2) Observer briefing registration, including:
(i) Date and type of requested briefing session and briefing location; and
(ii) List of observers to attend the briefing session. Each observer's full name (first, middle, and last names) must be included.
(B) Projected observer assignments. Prior to the observer or observer candidate's completion of the training or briefing session, the observer provider must submit to the Observer Program Office a statement of projected observer assignments that include the observer's name; vessel, shoreside processor, or stationary floating processor assignment, gear type, and vessel/processor code; port of embarkation; target species; and area of fishing.
(C) Physical examination. A signed and dated statement from a licensed physician that he or she has physically examined an observer or observer candidate. The statement must confirm that, based on that physical examination, the observer or observer candidate does not have any health problems or conditions that would jeopardize that individual's safety or the safety of others while deployed, or prevent the observer or observer candidate from performing his or her duties satisfactorily. The statement must declare that, prior to the examination, the physician was made aware of the duties of the observer and the dangerous, remote, and rigorous nature of the work by reading the NMFS-prepared pamphlet, provided to the candidate by the observer provider as specified in paragraph (i)(2)(i)(B) of this section. The physician's statement must be submitted to the Observer Program Office prior to certification of an observer. The physical exam must have occurred during the 12 months prior to the observer's or observer candidate's deployment. The physician's statement will expire 12 months after the physical exam occurred. A new physical exam must be performed, and accompanying statement submitted, prior to any deployment occurring after the expiration of the statement.
(D) Observer deployment/logistics reports. A deployment/logistics report must be submitted by Wednesday, 4:30 pm, Pacific local time, of each week with regard to each observer deployed by the observer provider during that week. The deployment/logistics report must include the observer's name, cruise number, current vessel, shoreside processor, or stationary floating processor assignment and vessel/processor code, embarkation date, and estimated or actual disembarkation dates. If the observer is currently not assigned to a vessel, shoreside processor, or stationary floating processor, the observer's location must be included in the report.
(E) Observer debriefing registration. The observer provider must contact the Observer Program within 5 business days after the completion of an observer's deployment to schedule a date, time and location for debriefing. Observer debriefing registration information must be provided at the time of debriefing scheduling and must include the observer's name, cruise number, vessel, or shoreside or stationary floating processor assignment name(s) and code(s), and requested debriefing date.
(F) Certificates of Insurance. Copies of “certificates of insurance”, that name the NMFS Observer Program leader as the “certificate holder”, shall be submitted to the Observer Program Office by February 1 of each year. The certificates of insurance shall verify the following coverage provisions and state that the insurance company will notify the certificate holder if insurance coverage is changed or canceled.
(1) Maritime Liability to cover “seamen's” claims under the Merchant Marine Act (Jones Act) and General Maritime Law ($1 million minimum).
(2) Coverage under the U.S. Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act ($1 million minimum).
(3) States Worker's Compensation as required.
(4) Commercial General Liability.
(G) Observer provider contracts. Observer providers must submit to the Observer Program Office a completed and unaltered copy of each type of signed and valid contract (including all attachments, appendices, addendums, and exhibits incorporated into the contract) between the observer provider and those entities requiring observer services under paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section, by February 1 of each year. Observer providers must also submit to the Observer Program Office upon request, a completed and unaltered copy of the current or most recent signed and valid contract (including all attachments, appendices, addendums, and exhibits incorporated into the contract and any agreements or policies with regard to observer compensation or salary levels) between the observer provider and the particular entity identified by the Observer Program or with specific observers. Said copies must be submitted to the Observer Program Office via fax or mail within 5 business days of the request for the contract at the address or fax number listed in paragraph (e)(3) of this section. Signed and valid contracts include the contracts an observer provider has with:
(1) Vessels required to have observer coverage as specified at paragraph (c) of this section;
(2) Shoreside or stationary floating processors required to have observer coverage as specified at paragraph (d) of this section; and
(3) Observers.
(H) Observer provider invoices. Certified observer providers must submit to the Observer Program Office copies of all invoices for observer coverage required or provided pursuant to paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section.
(1) Copies of invoices must be received by the Observer Program Office within 45 days of the date on the invoice and must include all reconciled and final charges.
(2) Invoices must contain the following information:
(i) Name of each individual catcher/processor, catcher vessel, mothership, stationary floating processor, or shoreside processing plant to which the invoice applies;
(ii) Dates of service for each observer on each catcher/processor, catcher vessel, mothership, stationary floating processor, or shoreside processing plant. Dates billed that are not observer coverage days shall be identified on the invoice;
(iii) Rate charged in dollars per day (daily rate) for observer services;
(iv) Total charge for observer services (number of days multiplied by daily rate);
(v) Amount charged for air transportation; and
(vi) Amount charged by the provider for any other observer expenses, including but not limited to: Ground transportation, excess baggage, and lodging. Charges for these costs must be separated and identified.
(I) Change in observer provider management and contact information. Except for changes in ownership addressed under paragraph (i)(1)(vi) of this section, an observer provider must submit notification of any other change to the information submitted on the provider's permit application under paragraphs (i)(1)(ii)(A) through (D) of this section. Within 30 days of the effective date of such change, this information must be submitted by fax or mail to the Observer Program Office at the address listed in paragraph (e)(3) of this section. Any information submitted under (i)(1)(ii)(C) or (i)(1)(ii)(D) of this section will be subject to NMFS review and determinations under (i)(1)(iii) through (viii) of this section.
(J) Other reports. Reports of the following must be submitted in writing to the Observer Program Office by the observer provider via fax or email:
(1) Within 24 hours after the observer provider becomes aware of the following information:
(i) Any information regarding possible observer harassment;
(ii) Any information regarding any action prohibited under § 679.7(g) or § 600.725(o), (t) and (u);
(iii) Any concerns about vessel safety or marine casualty under 46 CFR 4.05-1 (a)(1) through (7), or processor safety;
(iv) Any observer illness or injury that prevents the observer from completing any of his or her duties described in the observer manual; and
(v) Any information, allegations or reports regarding observer conflict of interest or failure to abide by the standards of behavior described at paragraph (j)(2)(i) or (j)(2)(ii) of this section, or;
(2) Within 72 hours after the observer provider determines that an observer violated the observer provider's conduct and behavior policy described at paragraph (i)(2)(iii)(A) of this section; these reports shall include the underlying facts and circumstances of the violation.
(xii) Replacement of lost or damaged gear. An observer provider must replace all lost or damaged gear and equipment issued by NMFS to an observer under contract to that provider. All replacements must be in accordance with requirements and procedures identified in writing by the Observer Program Office.
(xiii) Maintain confidentiality of information. An observer provider must ensure that all records on individual observer performance received from NMFS under the routine use provision of the Privacy Act remain confidential and are not further released to anyone outside the employ of the observer provider company to whom the observer was contracted except with written permission of the observer.
(3) Limitations on conflict of interest. Observer providers:
(i) Are authorized to provide observer services under an FMP for the waters off the coast of Alaska as required in this part, or scientific data collector and observer services to support NMFS-approved scientific research activities, exempted educational activities, or exempted or experimental fishing as defined in § 600.10 of this chapter.
(ii) Must not have a direct financial interest, other than the provision of observer or scientific data collector services, in a North Pacific fishery managed under an FMP for the waters off the coast of Alaska, including, but not limited to:
(A) Any ownership, mortgage holder, or other secured interest in a vessel, shoreside or stationary floating processors facility involved in the catching, taking, harvesting or processing of fish,
(B) Any business involved with selling supplies or services to any vessel, shoreside or stationary floating processors participating in a fishery managed pursuant to an FMP in the waters off the coast of Alaska, or
(C) Any business involved with purchasing raw or processed products from any vessel, shoreside or stationary floating processors participating in a fishery managed pursuant to an FMP in the waters off the coast of Alaska.
(iii) Must assign observers without regard to any preference by representatives of vessels, shoreside processors, or stationary floating processors other than when an observer will be deployed.
(iv) 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 fish processing 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 observer providers.
(j) Observer certification and responsibilities—
(1) Observer Certification—
(i) Applicability. Observer certification authorizes an individual to fulfill duties as specified in writing by the NMFS Observer Program Office while under the employ of a NMFS-permitted observer provider and according to certification endorsements as designated under paragraph (j)(1)(v) of this section.
(ii) Observer certification official. The Regional Administrator will designate a NMFS observer certification official who will make decisions for the Observer Program Office on whether to issue or deny observer certification.
(iii) Certification requirements.
(A) Existing Observers. Observers who completed sampling activities between June 30, 2001, and December 31, 2002, and have not had their certification revoked during or after that time period, will be considered to have met certification requirements under this section. These observers will be issued a new certification prior to their first deployment after December 31, 2002, unless NMFS determines that the observer has not been deployed, or has not performed sampling duties, or has not been debriefed successfully in the preceding 18 months.
(B) New observers. NMFS may certify individuals who, in addition to any other relevant considerations:
(1) Are employed by a permitted observer provider company at the time of the issuance of the certification;
(2) Have provided, through their observer provider:
(i) Information identified by NMFS at paragraphs (i)(2)(xi)(A)(1)(iii) and (iv) of this section and in writing from the Observer Program; and
(ii) Information identified by NMFS at paragraph (i)(2)(xi)(C) of this section regarding the observer candidate's health and physical fitness for the job;
(3) Meet all education and health standards as specified in paragraphs (i)(2)(i)(A) and (i)(2)(xi)(C) of this section, respectively;
(4) Have successfully completed a NMFS-approved training as prescribed by the Observer Program.
(i) Successful completion of training by an observer applicant consists of meeting all attendance and conduct standards issued in writing at the start of training; meeting all performance standards issued in writing at the start of training for assignments, tests, and other evaluation tools; and completing all other training requirements established by the Observer Program.
(ii) If a candidate fails training, he or she will be verbally notified of the unsatisfactory status of his or her training on or before the last day of training. Within 10 business days of the verbal notification, the observer candidate will be notified in writing. The written notification will indicate why the candidate failed the training and whether the candidate can retake the training. If a determination is made that the candidate may not pursue further training, notification will be in the form of a written determination denying certification, as specified under paragraph (j)(1)(iv)(A) of this section.
(5) Have not been decertified under paragraph (j)(3) of this section.
(iv) Agency determinations on observer certification—
(A) Denial of a certification. The NMFS observer certification official will issue a written determination denying observer certification if the candidate fails to successfully complete training, or does not meet the qualifications for certification for any other relevant reason.
(B) Issuance of an observer certification. An observer certification will be issued upon determination by the observer certification official that the candidate has successfully met all requirements for certification as specified in paragraph (j)(1)(iii) of this section.
(v) Endorsements. The following endorsements must be obtained, in addition to observer certification, in order for an observer to deploy as indicated.
(A) Certification training endorsement. A certification training endorsement signifies the successful completion of the training course required to obtain this endorsement. A certification training endorsement is required for any deployment as an observer in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands groundfish fisheries and the Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries and will be granted with the initial issuance of an observer certification. This endorsement expires when the observer has not been deployed and performed sampling duties as required by the Observer Program Office for a period of time, specified by the Observer Program, after his or her most recent debriefing. Renewal can be obtained by the observer successfully completing certification training once more. Observers will be notified of any changes to the endorsement expiration period prior to that change taking place. Observers who have been issued certificates under paragraph (j)(1)(iii)(A) of this section will be issued a new certification training endorsement upon issuance of their observer certification prior to their first deployment after December 31, 2002.
(B) Annual general endorsements. Each observer must obtain an annual general endorsement to their certification prior to his or her first deployment within any calendar year subsequent to a year in which a certification training endorsement is obtained. To obtain an annual general endorsement, an observer must successfully complete the annual briefing, as specified by the Observer Program. All briefing attendance, performance, and conduct standards required by the Observer Program must be met.
(C) Deployment endorsements. Each observer who has completed an initial deployment after certification or annual briefing must receive a deployment endorsement to their certification prior to any subsequent deployments for the remainder of that year. An observer may obtain a deployment endorsement by successfully completing all pre-cruise briefing requirements. The type of briefing the observer must attend and successfully complete will be specified in writing by the Observer Program during the observer's most recent debriefing.
(D) Level 2 endorsements. An observer may obtain a Level 2 endorsement to their certification. A Level 2 endorsement is required for purposes of performing observer duties aboard vessels or stationary floating processors or at shoreside processors participating in the CDQ or AFA fisheries as prescribed in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section. A Level 2 endorsement to an observer's certification may be obtained by meeting the following requirements:
(1) Be a prior observer in the groundfish fisheries off Alaska who has completed at least 60 days of observer data collection;
(2) Receive an evaluation by NMFS for his or her most recent deployment that indicated that the observer's performance met Observer Program expectations for that deployment;
(3) Successfully complete a NMFS-approved Level 2 observer training as prescribed by the Observer Program; and
(4) Comply with all of the other requirements of this section.
(E) An observer who has achieved a Level 2 endorsement to their observer certification as specified in paragraph (j)(1)(v) (D) of this section may additionally receive a Level 2 “lead” observer endorsement by meeting the following requirements:
(1) A Level 2 “lead” observer on a catcher/processor using trawl gear or a mothership must have completed two observer cruises (contracts) and sampled at least 100 hauls on a catcher/processor using trawl gear or on a mothership.
(2) A Level 2 “lead” observer on a catcher vessel using trawl gear must have completed two observer cruises (contracts) and sampled at least 50 hauls on a catcher vessel using trawl gear.
(3) A Level 2 “lead” observer on a vessel using nontrawl gear must have completed two observer cruises (contracts) of at least 10 days each and sampled at least 60 sets on a vessel using nontrawl gear.
(2) Standards of observer conduct—
(i) Limitations on conflict of interest.
(A) Observers:
(1) Must not have a direct financial interest, other than the provision of observer services, in a North Pacific fishery managed pursuant to an FMP for the waters off the coast of Alaska, including, but not limited to,
(i) Any ownership, mortgage holder, or other secured interest in a vessel, shoreside or stationary floating processors facility involved in the catching, taking, harvesting or processing of fish,
(ii) Any business involved with selling supplies or services to any vessel, shoreside or stationary floating processors participating in a fishery managed pursuant to an FMP in the waters off the coast of Alaska, or
(iii) Any business involved with purchasing raw or processed products from any vessel, shoreside or stationary floating processors participating in a fishery managed pursuant to an FMP in the waters off the coast of Alaska.
(2) May not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gratuity, gift, favor, entertainment, loan, or anything of monetary value from anyone who either conducts activities that are regulated by NMFS or has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the observers' official duties.
(3) May not serve as observers on any vessel or at any shoreside or floating stationary processing facility owned or operated by a person who previously employed the observers.
(4) May not solicit or accept employment as a crew member or an employee of a vessel, shoreside processor, or stationary floating processor in a North Pacific fishery while employed by an observer provider.
(B) Provisions for remuneration of observers under this section do not constitute a conflict of interest.
(ii) Standards of Behavior. Observers must:
(A) Perform their assigned duties as described in the Observer Manual or other written instructions from the Observer Program Office;
(B) Accurately record their sampling data, write complete reports, and report accurately any observations of suspected violations of regulations relevant to conservation of marine resources or their environment; and
(C) Not disclose collected data and observations made on board the vessel or in the processing facility to any person except the owner or operator of the observed vessel or processing facility, an authorized officer, or NMFS.
(3) Suspension and Decertification—
(i) Suspension and decertification review official. The Regional Administrator will establish an observer suspension and decertification review official(s), who will have the authority to review observer certifications and issue initial administrative determinations of observer certification suspension and/or decertification.
(ii) Causes for suspension or decertification. The suspension/decertification official may initiate suspension or decertification proceedings against an observer:
(A) When it is alleged that the observer has committed any acts or omissions of any of the following:
(1) Failed to satisfactorily perform the duties of observers as specified in writing by the NMFS Observer Program; or
(2) Failed to abide by the standards of conduct for observers as prescribed under paragraph (j)(2) of this section;
(B) Upon conviction of a crime or upon entry of a civil judgement for:
(1) Commission of fraud or other violation in connection with obtaining or attempting to obtain certification, or in performing the duties as specified in writing by the NMFS Observer Program;
(2) Commission of embezzlement, theft, forgery, bribery, falsification or destruction of records, making false statements, or receiving stolen property;
(3) Commission of any other offense indicating a lack of integrity or honesty that seriously and directly affects the fitness of observers.
(iii) Issuance of initial administrative determination. Upon determination that suspension or decertification is warranted under paragraph (j)(3)(ii) of this section, the suspension/decertification official will issue a written initial administrative determination (IAD) to the observer via certified mail at the observer's most current address provided to NMFS under § 679.43(e). The IAD will identify whether a certification is suspended or revoked and will identify the specific reasons for the action taken. If the IAD issues a suspension for an observer certification, the terms of the suspension will be specified. Suspension or decertification can be made effective upon issuance of the IAD in cases of willfulness or those cases in which public health, interest, or safety require such actions. In such cases, the suspension/decertification official will state in the IAD that suspension or decertification is effective at time of issuance and the reason for the action.
(iv) Appeals. An observer who receives an IAD that suspends or revokes his or her observer certification may appeal pursuant to § 679.43.
(k) Release of observer data to the public—
(1) Summary of weekly data. The following information collected by observers for each catcher processor and catcher vessel during any weekly reporting period may be made available to the public:
(i) Vessel name and Federal permit number.
(ii) Number of chinook salmon and “other salmon” observed.
(iii) The ratio of total round weight of halibut or Pacific herring to the total round weight of groundfish in sampled catch.
(iv) The ratio of number of king crab or C. bairdi Tanner crab to the total round weight of groundfish in sampled hauls.
(v) The number of observed trawl hauls or fixed gear sets.
(vi) The number of trawl hauls that were basket sampled.
(vii) The total weight of basket samples taken from sampled trawl hauls.
(2) Haul-specific data.
(i) The information listed in paragraphs (k)(2)(i) (A) through (M) of this section and collected by observers from observed hauls on board vessels using trawl gear to participate in a directed fishery for groundfish other than rockfish, Greenland turbot, or Atka mackerel may be made available to the public:
(A) Date.
(B) Time of day gear is deployed.
(C) Latitude and longitude at beginning of haul.
(D) Bottom depth.
(E) Fishing depth of trawl.
(F) The ratio of the number of chinook salmon to the total round weight of groundfish.
(G) The ratio of the number of other salmon to the total round weight of groundfish.
(H) The ratio of total round weight of halibut to the total round weight of groundfish.
(I) The ratio of total round weight of herring to the total round weight of groundfish.
(J) The ratio of the number of king crab to the total round weight of groundfish.
(K) The ratio of the number of C. bairdi Tanner crab to the total round weight of groundfish.
(L) Sea surface temperature (where available).
(M) Sea temperature at fishing depth of trawl (where available).
(ii) The identity of the vessels from which the data in paragraph (k)(2)(i) of this section are collected will not be released.
(3) Competitive harm. In exceptional circumstances, the owners and operators of vessels may provide to the Regional Administrator written justification at the time observer data are submitted, or within a reasonable time thereafter, that disclosure of the information listed in paragraphs (k) (1) and (2) of this section could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm. The determination whether to disclose the information will be made pursuant to 15 CFR 4.7.
[61 FR 56431, Nov. 1, 1996]
Editorial Note:
For Federal Register citations affecting § 679.50, see the List of CFR Sections Affected, which appears in the Finding Aids section of the printed volume and at www.fdsys.gov.
Effective Date Note:
At 77 FR 59060, Sept. 26, 2012, § 679.50 was amended by removing and reserving paragraph (c)(4)(iii)(C), revising paragraph (c)(1) introductory text and paragraph (j)(1)(v)(E)(3), and adding paragraph (c)(8), effective Oct. 26, 2012. For the convenience of the user, the added and revised text is set forth as follows:
§ 679.50 Groundfish Observer Program.
(c) * * *
(1) Unless otherwise specified in paragraphs (c)(4) through (8) of this section, observer coverage is required as follows:
(8) Longline catcher/processor subsector. The owner and operator of a catcher/processor subject to § 679.100(b) must comply with the following observer coverage requirements:
(i) Increased observer coverage option. If the vessel owner selects the increased observer coverage option under § 679.100(b)(1), at least two observers must be aboard the vessel at all times when the vessel is operating in either the BSAI or GOA groundfish fisheries when directed fishing for Pacific cod is open in the BSAI, or while the vessel is groundfish CDQ fishing. At least one of the observers must be certified as a lead level 2 observer as described at § 679.50(j)(1)(v)(E)(3). More than two observers are required if the observer workload would otherwise preclude sampling as required under § 679.100(b)(1)(ii).
(ii) Scales option. If the vessel owner selects the scales option under § 679.100(b)(2), one lead level 2 observer as described at paragraph (j)(1)(v)(E)(3) of this section must be aboard the vessel at all times when the vessel is operating in either the BSAI or GOA groundfish fisheries when directed fishing for Pacific cod is open in the BSAI, or while the vessel is groundfish CDQ fishing.
(j) * * *
(1) * * *
(v) * * *
(E) * * *
(3) A “lead” level 2 observer on a vessel using nontrawl gear must have completed two observer cruises (contracts) of at least 10 days each and sampled at least 30 sets on a vessel using nontrawl gear.

Title 50 published on 2013-10-01

The following are only the Rules published in the Federal Register after the published date of Title 50.

For a complete list of all Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices view the Rulemaking tab.

  • 2014-11-20; vol. 79 # 224 - Thursday, November 20, 2014
    1. 79 FR 69063 - Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Dusky Rockfish in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska
      GPO FDSys XML | Text
      DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
      Temporary rule; closure.
      Effective 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), November 17, 2014, through 2400 hours, A.l.t., December 31, 2014.
      50 CFR Part 679

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United States Code
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Title 50 published on 2013-10-01

The following are ALL rules, proposed rules, and notices (chronologically) published in the Federal Register relating to 50 CFR 679 after this date.

  • 2014-11-20; vol. 79 # 224 - Thursday, November 20, 2014
    1. 79 FR 69063 - Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Dusky Rockfish in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska
      GPO FDSys XML | Text
      DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
      Temporary rule; closure.
      Effective 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), November 17, 2014, through 2400 hours, A.l.t., December 31, 2014.
      50 CFR Part 679