50 CFR § 679.120 - Halibut deck sorting.

§ 679.120 Halibut deck sorting.

(a) Applicability. The owner and operator of a mothership or catcher/processor using trawl gear in the non-pollock groundfish fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area must comply with the requirements of this section when participating in halibut deck sorting as defined at § 679.2.

(b) Catch monitoring requirements -

(1) Catch weighing. When halibut deck sorting, all catch, except halibut sorted on deck, must be weighed on a NMFS-approved scale in compliance with the scale requirements at § 679.28(b). Each haul must be weighed separately, all catch must be made available for sampling by a NMFS-certified observer, and no sorting of catch, except halibut sorted on deck, may take place prior to weighing. When halibut deck sorting, no fish may be weighed on a NMFS-approved scale used to weigh catch at sea unless two observers are available to complete data collection duties, one on deck and one in the factory. A visual signal, specified in paragraph (e)(8) of this section, must be used to indicate when catch may not be weighed.

(2) Observer sampling station. An observer sampling station meeting the requirements at § 679.28(d) must be available at all times.

(3) Observer coverage requirements. Comply with the observer coverage requirements at § 679.51(a)(2).

(4) Sample storage. Provide a storage space sufficient to accommodate a minimum of 10 observer sampling baskets. This space must be within or adjacent to the observer sampling station.

(5) Vessel crew in tanks or bins. Comply with the bin monitoring standards at § 679.28(i)(1).

(6) Observer deck sampling station. An observer deck sampling station meeting the requirements at § 679.28(d)(9) must be available at all times.

(7) Video monitoring. Comply with the video monitoring standards specified at § 679.28(l).

(c) Pre-cruise meeting. Notify the Observer Program by phone at 1 (907) 581-2060 (Dutch Harbor, AK) or 1 (907) 481-1770 (Kodiak, AK) at least 24 hours prior to departure when the vessel will be carrying an observer who has not previously been deployed on that vessel within the last 12 months. Subsequent to the vessel's departure notification, but prior to departure, NMFS may contact the vessel to arrange for a pre-cruise meeting. The pre-cruise meeting must minimally include the vessel operator or manager and any observers assigned to the vessel.

(d) Deck Safety Plan. Annually submit and have an approved Deck Safety Plan prior to participating in halibut deck sorting. The owner and operator must comply with all the requirements described in the NMFS-approved Deck Safety Plan.

(1) Deck Safety Plan requirements. A Deck Safety Plan must:

(i) Describe the route for observers to safely access and leave the deck sampling station and specify locations where observers may shelter during gear retrieval and movement.

(ii) Describe hazardous areas and potentially hazardous conditions that could be encountered on deck.

(iii) Describe communication procedures to inform the observer when it is safe to access the deck. These procedures must identify who will tell the observer it is safe to access the deck, how that communication will happen, and how they will communicate with the observer if a new safety hazard arises while on deck.

(iv) List personal protective equipment that must be worn by the observer while on deck.

(v) List all personnel the observer may contact to report safety issues, including safety hazards identified by the observer that are not covered by the Deck Safety Plan, deviations from the Deck Safety Plan, and any conditions that would require the suspension of halibut deck sorting.

(vi) Provide procedures to ensure the observer's safety while working in the deck sampling station.

(vii) Include a scale drawing showing the deck sampling station, the routes to access and exit the deck sampling station, emergency muster location, and safety hazards that could be encountered on deck.

(2) Approval. NMFS will approve a Deck Safety Plan if it meets the requirements specified in paragraph (d)(1) of this section. The vessel must be inspected by NMFS prior to approval of the Deck Safety Plan to ensure that the vessel conforms to the elements addressed in the Deck Safety Plan. NMFS will normally complete its review of the Deck Safety Plan within 14 working days of receiving a complete Deck Safety Plan and conducting a Deck Safety Plan inspection. If NMFS disapproves a Deck Safety Plan, the vessel owner and operator may resubmit a revised Deck Safety Plan or file an administrative appeal as set forth under the administrative appeals procedures set out at 15 CFR part 906.

(3) Deck Safety Plan inspection. The vessel owner and operator must submit a complete Deck Safety Plan to NMFS by fax (206-526-4066) or email (station.inspections@noaa.gov) at least 10 working days in advance of the requested date of inspection.

(4) Location. Deck Safety Plan inspections will be conducted on vessels tied up at docks in Kodiak, Alaska, Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and in the Puget Sound area of Washington State.

(5) Changes to the Deck Safety Plan. The vessel owner and operator may propose a change to the Deck Safety Plan by submitting a Deck Safety Plan addendum to NMFS. NMFS may require a Deck Safety Plan inspection described at paragraph (d)(3) of this section before approving the addendum.

(e) Vessel operator responsibilities. The operator of a vessel subject to this section must comply with the following:

(1) Deck sorting safety meeting. Provide the observer with a copy of the NMFS-approved Deck Safety Plan and make available all other applicable inspection reports described at § 679.28. The deck sorting safety meeting must be conducted prior to departing port and must include the observer, vessel operator, and key crew member who will be responsible for providing notification or reasonable assistance during halibut deck sorting. All elements of the vessel's Deck Safety Plan must be reviewed with the observer during this meeting.

(2) Observer notification. Before halibut deck sorting, notify the observer at least 15 minutes prior to bringing fish on board.

(3) Observer present. Conduct halibut deck sorting only when an observer is present in the deck sampling station.

(4) Time limit. Conduct halibut deck sorting only within the time limit indicated on the Observer Sampling Station Inspection Report. The time limit begins when the codend is opened on deck. When the time limit is reached, all halibut deck sorting must stop.

(5) Single sorting pathway. Convey all halibut sorted on deck to the observer deck sampling station via a single pathway.

(6) Careful handling. Handle all halibut sorted on deck with a minimum of injury.

(7) Sorting pace. Do not pressure or rush the observer to move halibut through the sampling process faster than the observer can handle.

(8) Visual signal. Use a visual signal to indicate to vessel crew when catch may not to be weighed on a NMFS-approved scale specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section. The visual signal must be on the conveyor belt adjacent to the flow scale and visible in the view of a camera required at § 679.28(b)(8).