50 CFR § 660.18 - Observer and catch monitor provider permits and endorsements.

§ 660.18 Observer and catch monitor provider permits and endorsements.

(a) Provider permits. Persons seeking to provide observer or catch monitor services must obtain a provider permit from NMFS before providing certified catch monitors or certified observers for the Shorebased IFQ Program, the MS Coop Program, the C/P Coop Program, or for processing vessels in the fixed gear or open access fisheries. There are two types of endorsements for provider permits, an observer endorsement and a catch monitor endorsement. Provider permits must have at least one endorsement and it must be appropriate for the services being provided. Provider permits are obtained through an application process and must be renewed annually to remain valid in the following year. A provider permit and associated endorsements expire if not renewed or if services have not been provided for 12 consecutive months.

(b) Application process to become an observer or catch monitor provider -

(1) New provider applications. An applicant seeking a provider permit may submit an application at any time during the calendar year. Any provider permit issued during a given year will expire on December 31. Application forms must be submitted by mail to the West Coast Region Fisheries Permits Office, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Bldg 1, Seattle, WA 98115. Only complete applications will be considered for approval by the review board.

(2) Contents of provider application. A complete application for a provider permit shall contain the following:

(i) An indication of which endorsement the applicant is seeking: observer provider, catch monitor provider, or both endorsements. A single application may be used to apply for both endorsements.

(ii) Applicant contact information.

(A) Legal name of applicant organization. If the applicant organization is United States business entity, include the state registration number.

(B) The primary business mailing address, phone and fax numbers where the owner(s) can be contacted for official correspondence.

(iii) Description 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 employees. List all office locations and their business mailing address, business phone, fax number, and email addresses. 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.

(iv) A narrative statement describing relevant direct or indirect prior experience or qualifications the applicant may have that would enable them to be a successful provider.

(A) For applicants seeking an observer provider endorsement, the applicant should describe experience in placing individuals in remote field and/or marine work environments. This includes, but is not limited to, recruiting, hiring, deployment, and personnel administration.

(B) For applicants seeking a catch monitor provider endorsement, a narrative statement should identify prior relevant experience in recruiting, hiring, deploying, and providing support for individuals in marine work environments in the groundfish fishery or other fisheries of similar scale.

(v) A narrative description of the applicant's ability to carry out the required responsibilities and duties as described at §§ 660.140(h), 660.150(j), and 660.160(g) for observer providers and/or § 660.17(f) for catch monitor providers.

(vi) A statement signed under penalty of perjury by an authorized agent of the applicant about each owner, or owners, board members, and officers if a corporation, authorized agents, and employees, regarding:

(A) Conflict of interest as described in § 660.18 (c)(3),

(B) Criminal convictions,

(C) Federal contracts they have had and the performance rating they received on the contract, and

(D) Previous decertification action while working as an observer, catch monitor, observer provider, or catch monitor provider.

(vii) NMFS may request additional information or clarification from the applicants.

(c) Application evaluation. Complete applications will be forwarded to Observer Program and/or the Catch Monitor Program for review and evaluation.

(1) A provider permit application review board will be established and be comprised of at least three members. The review board will evaluate applications submitted under paragraph (a) of this section. If the applicant is an entity, the review board also will evaluate the application criteria for each owner, board member, officer, authorized agent, and employee.

(2) The provider permit application will, at a minimum, be evaluated on the following criteria:

(i) The applicant's ability to carry out the responsibilities and relevant experience and qualifications.

(ii) Review of any conflict of interest as described in § 660.18(c)(3).

(iii) Review of any criminal convictions.

(iv) Satisfactory performance ratings on any Federal contracts held by the applicant.

(v) Review of any history of decertification as an observer, catch monitor, observer provider, or catch monitor provider.

(3) Limitations on conflict of interest for providers.

(i) Providers must not have a direct financial interest, other than the provision of observer, catch monitor or other biological sampling services, in any federal or state managed fisheries, including but not limited to:

(A) Any ownership, mortgage holder, or other secured interest in a vessel, first receiver, shorebased or floating stationary processor facility involved in the catching, taking, harvesting or processing of fish;

(B) Any business involved with selling supplies or services to any vessel, first receiver, shorebased or floating stationary processing facility; or

(C) Any business involved with purchasing raw or processed products from any vessel, first receiver, shorebased or floating stationary processing facilities.

(ii) Providers must not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gratuity, gift, favor, entertainment, loan, or anything of monetary value from any person 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 the provider.

(4) Existing providers. Businesses that provided observers and/or catch monitors in the 12 months prior to May 21, 2015 will be issued a provider permit without submission of an application. This permit will be effective through December 31, 2015.

(i) Providers who deployed catch monitors in the Shorebased IFQ Program in the 12 months prior to May 21, 2015 will be issued a provider permit with a catch monitor provider endorsement effective through December 31, 2015, except that a change in ownership of an existing catch monitor provider after January 1, 2015, requires a new permit application under this section.

(ii) Providers who deployed certified observers in the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery in the 12 months prior to May 21, 2015 will be issued a provider permit with an observer provider endorsement effective through December 31, 2015, except that a change in ownership of an existing observer provider after January 1, 2015, requires a new permit application under this section.

(iii) To receive a provider permit for 2016 and beyond, the existing providers must follow the provider permit renewal process set forth in this section.

(d) Agency determination on an application.

(1) Initial administrative determination. For all complete applications, NMFS will issue an IAD that either approves or disapproves the application. If approved, the IAD will be the provider permit and any associated endorsements. If disapproved, the IAD will provide the reasons for this determination. If the applicant does not appeal the IAD within 30 calendar days, the IAD becomes the final decision of the Regional Administrator acting on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce.

(2) Appeal. The applicant may appeal the IAD consistent with the observer, catch monitor, and provider appeals process defined at § 660.19.

(e) Effective dates. The provider permit will be valid from the effective date identified on the permit until the permit expiration date of December 31. Provider permit holders must reapply annually by following the application process specified in paragraph (b) of this section.

(f) Expiration of the provider permit -

(1) Expiration due to inactivity. After a period of 12 continuous months during which no observers or catch monitors are deployed by the provider in the Pacific coast groundfish fishery, NMFS will issue an IAD describing the intent to expire the provider permit or to remove the appropriate endorsement(s) and the timeline to do so. A provider that receives an IAD may appeal under § 660.19. The provider permit and endorsements will remain valid until a final agency decision is made or until December 31, whichever is earlier.

(2) Expiration due to failure to renew. Failure to renew annually will result in expiration of the provider permit and endorsements on December 31.

(3) Obtaining a new permit or endorsement following an expiration or voided permit. A person holding an expired or void permit or endorsement may reapply for a new provider permit or endorsement at any time consistent with § 660.18(b).

(g) Provider permit renewal process. To maintain a valid provider permit, provider permit holders must reapply annually prior to the permit expiration date.

(1) NMFS will mail a provider permit application form to existing permit holders on or about September 15 each year.

(2) Providers who want to have their permits effective for January 1 of the following calendar year must submit their complete application form to NMFS by October 31. If a provider fails to renew the provider permit, the provider permit and endorsements will expire on December 31.

(h) Change of provider permit ownership and transfer restrictions. Neither a provider permit nor the endorsements are transferable. Ownership of a provider permit cannot be registered to another individual or entity. The provider permit owner cannot change, substitute, or add individuals or entities as owners of the permit (i.e., cannot change the legal name of the permit owner(s) as given on the permit). Any change in ownership of the provider permit requires the new owner(s) to apply for a provider permit, and is subject to approval by NMFS.

(i) Provider permit sanctions. Procedures governing sanctions of permits are found at subpart D of 15 CFR part 904.

(j) Permit fees. The Regional Administrator may charge fees to cover administrative expenses related to issuance of permits including initial issuance, renewal replacement, and appeals.

[80 FR 22283, Apr. 21, 2015]

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