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Sea Turtle Observer Requirement Annual Determination

 Proposed 2018 Annual Determination

The Proposed 2018 Annual Determination (as filed) identifies fisheries that will be that will be required to take fisheries observers upon NMFS’ request as of January 1, 2018, and will remain on the AD for a five-year period until December 31, 2022. Public comments are being accepted on this proposed list until November 20, 2017.

 Fisheries Currently Listed on the Annual Determination

The 2017 Annual Determination (AD) (81 FR 90330, December 14, 2016) provided notification that we will not identify additional fisheries to observe beyond what is listed on the 2015 AD.

We listed 14 fisheries on the 2015 Annual Determination (80 FR 14319, March 19, 2015) that will be required to take observers upon our request for a period of 5 years, from April 2015 through December 2019.

Fishery Years Eligible to Carry Observers
Trawl Fisheries
Southeastern U.S. Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico shrimp trawl
Gulf of Mexico mixed species fish trawl
Gillnet Fisheries
California halibut, white seabass and other species set gillnet (>3.5 in mesh)
California yellowtail, barracuda, and white seabass drift gillnet
(mesh size >3.5 in. and <14 in.)
Chesapeake Bay inshore gillnet
Long Island inshore gillnet
Gulf of Mexico gillnet
North Carolina inshore gillnet
Trap/Pot Fisheries
Atlantic blue crab trap/pot
Atlantic mixed species trap/pot
Northeast/mid-Atlantic American lobster trap/pot
Pound Net/Weir/Seine Fisheries
Mid-Atlantic haul/beach seine
Mid-Atlantic menhaden purse seine
Rhode Island floating trap

Previous Annual Determinations


We annually identify, per the Endangered Species Act (ESA), commercial or recreational fisheries operating in state and/or Federal waters in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific Ocean that would be required to take sea turtle observers upon our request in order to:

The fisheries identified through the Annual Determination process will be required to carry sea turtle observers upon our request for a 5-year period. At the end of a 5-year period they may be relisted.

Process for Developing an Annual Determination

We consult with state partners to identify which commercial and recreational fisheries should be considered for inclusion on the Annual Determination.  We then develop a proposed determination, which is published in the Federal Register and is available for public comment for 30 days.  After considering all public comments, we publish a final Annual Determination.

We identify fisheries in the determination using the best available scientific, commercial, or other information regarding:

Specifically, this determination is based on the extent to which:

We use the most recent version of the MMPA List of Fisheries (LOF) as the comprehensive list of commercial fisheries for consideration. The LOF includes all known state and Federal commercial fisheries that occur in U.S. waters. However, the classification scheme used (categories based on marine mammal interaction) in the LOF is not applicable to this determination process.

Implementing Observer Coverage in the Listed Fisheries

The design of any observer program, including how observers are allocated to individual vessels, varies among:

The individual NOAA Fisheries Regional Office, Science Center, or observer program ultimately determines the program design. During the program design, we are guided by the following standards when determining observer distribution among identified fisheries and the placement of observers on vessels in those fisheries:

Fisheries not included on the determination may still be observed under a different authority than the ESA (for example, Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) or Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA)).

Additional information on observer programs in commercial fisheries can be found on NOAA Fisheries'  National Observer Program (NOP) website, including links to individual regional observer programs.

Updated: October 18, 2017