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NOAA Fisheries Announces New Requirements for Fisheries Observer Violation Reporting

January 30, 2014

Background

As a result of a referral by the Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General, NOAA conducted an administrative inquiry of observer program policies and procedures, focusing on but not limited to violation reporting and observer safety. This investigation was concluded on
in January 2013 and resulted in a number of required actions directed to National Marine Fisheries Service's Observer Programs administered by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC). Between April and October 2013, the SEFSC worked with NOAA Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to produce a standardized violations training and reporting process, and agreed to implement that process beginning in January 2014.Where is the 2013 HMS SAFE Report available?

Requirements

Effective January 2014, Fisheries Observers deployed via SEFSC Observer programs will be required to document and report any and all known or potential fisheries violations as well as Marine Pollution (MARPOL) violations to their observer program staff. SEFSC Observer Program Staff will be required to provide this information to the appropriate enforcement authority. Neither the observers nor the observer program staff has any discretion regarding the reporting requirement; all decisions regarding subsequent investigation and enforcement actions are the responsibility of the enforcement authority.

Applicability

This procedure applies to all HMS permitted vessels required to take observers from the SEFSC, which includes (but not limited to) the Pelagic Observer Program, the Shark Bottom Longline Observer Program, and the Southeast Gillnet Observer Program. 

Contact

For more information, permit holders and vessel operators should contact the number given on their observer selection materials, or direct inquiries to the appropriate SEFSC Observer Program: 

Pelagic Observer Program (Atlantic Pelagic Longline): 1-800-858-0624
Shark Bottom Longline & Gillnet Observer Programs (Atlantic bottom longline ): 850-234-6541

 

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