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Update: Federal Funding for At-Sea Monitoring Likely to Extend into 2016

Credit: NOAA

We are pleased to announce an update on the status of federal funding for at-sea monitors in the New England Groundfish fishery. We have been informed that industry has facilitated an initial agreement among the three at-sea monitoring contract providers that may allow the remaining contract funds remaining to cover at-sea monitors after December 31 across the fleet, until those funds are expended, through sub-contracting arrangements.

We have continued to track the expenditures of the three at-sea monitoring contract providers through the month of November and, as we anticipated, two of the contract providers have been on target to expend all monies by December 31, 2015. However, the third contract provider continues to spend funds at a slower rate because this company provides observers for only a small percent of the fleet (approximately 2% of the effort).

Approximately $200K is currently available on this at-sea monitoring provider's contract. This would allow for approximately 250 to 300 sea days of at-sea monitoring. (A "sea day" is a calendar day that the monitor spends at sea on a covered fishing trip. The rate at which those days will be used depends on how much fishing occurs.)

Following the use of the remaining 250-300 sea days of at-sea monitoring, the industry will be required to begin paying for all at-sea monitoring. We anticipate this occurring in early 2016.

It is important to note that if the subcontracting arrangement the industry has negotiated is not effective, the transition of costs would occur as previously announced. NOAA cannot compel the companies to enter into such an arrangement, nor would it be equitable for NOAA to continue to cover only a portion of the fleet while requiring the rest of the fleet to pick up observer costs.

Questions? Contact Teri Frady at 508-495-2239 or