ANCHORAGE(AP) -- Federal fishery managers on Monday voted to extend through 2007 a regulation requiring observers on groundfish vessels. The rule had been due to expire at the end of this year.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council also gave the National Marine Fisheries Service authority to station its own observers aboard the vessels and at fish plants that process North Pacific groundfish or halibut.
The change will strengthen the relationship between NMFS and the observer companies to ensure sufficient management controls, according to the agency.
NMFS observers could be sent out in addition to or instead of contracted groundfish observers. Allowing NMFS workers to act as observers also will help develop sampling projects, solve perceived sampling issues and create vessel- and plant-specific sampling profiles, NMFS officials said.
Violations observed by NMFS staff aboard a vessel would be reported to the vessel captain, and could result in enforcement action, the same procedure now in place for the contracted observers.
The council meeting continues through Wednesday, with discussions on privatizing groundfish fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska and other related groundfish issues.
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