50 CFR 635.7 - At-sea observer coverage.

§ 635.7 At-sea observer coverage.

(a)Applicability. NMFS may select for at-sea observer coverage any vessel that has an Atlantic HMS, tunas, shark, or swordfish permit issued under § 635.4 or § 635.32. When selected, vessels are required to take observers on a mandatory basis. Vessels permitted in the HMS Charter/Headboat and Angling categories may be requested to take observers on a voluntary basis.

(b)Selection of vessels. NMFS will notify a vessel owner, in writing, by email, by phone, or in person when his or her vessel is selected for observer coverage. Vessels will be selected to provide information on catch, bycatch and other fishery data according to the need for representative samples.

(c)Notification of trips. If selected to carry an observer, it is the responsibility of the vessel owner to arrange for and facilitate observer placement. The owner or operator of a vessel that is selected under paragraph (b) of this section must notify NMFS, at an address or by phone at a number designated by NMFS, before commencing any fishing trip that may result in the incidental catch or harvest of Atlantic HMS. Notification procedures and information requirements will be specified in a selection letter sent by NMFS.

(d)Assignment of observers. Once a selected vessel notifies NMFS or its designee, NMFS will assign an observer for that trip based on current information needs relative to the expected catch and bycatch likely to be associated with the indicated gear deployment, trip duration and fishing area. If an observer is not assigned for a fishing trip, NMFS, or their designated observer service provider, will issue a waiver for that trip to the owner or operator of the selected vessel, so long as the waiver is consistent with other applicable laws. If an observer is assigned for a trip, the operator of the selected vessel must arrange to embark the observer and shall not fish for or retain any Atlantic HMS unless the NMFS-assigned observer is aboard.

(e)Requirements. The owner or operator of a vessel on which a NMFS-approved observer is embarked, regardless of whether required to carry the observer, must comply with safety regulations in § 600.725 and § 600.746 of this chapter and -

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

(2) Allow the observer 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 duties.

(3) Allow the observer access to and use of the vessel's navigation equipment and personnel upon request to determine the vessel's position.

(4) Allow the observer 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.

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

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

(f) Vessel responsibilities. An owner or operator of a vessel required to carry one or more observer(s) must provide reasonable assistance to enable observer(s) to carry out their duties, including, but not limited to:

(1) Measuring decks, codends, and holding bins.

(2) Providing the observer(s) with a safe work area.

(3) Collecting bycatch when requested by the observer(s).

(4) Collecting and carrying baskets of fish when requested by the observer(s).

(5) Allowing the observer(s) to collect biological data and samples.

(6) Providing adequate space for storage of biological samples.

[ 80 FR 73144, Nov. 24, 2015]