Fishing groups protest expanded observers program

Alaska fishing groups are objecting to a federal program that will put observers on a portion of commercial halibut boats next year.

The Ketchikan Daily News reports 13 groups sent a letter to the governor and Alaska’s congressional delegation seeking assistance.

The say the program for part-time observers will increase costs, reduce coverage in high-volume fisheries that have substantial king salmon and halibut bycatch, and fail to provide a workable monitoring system for small vessels.

The new North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program was approved Nov. 20 by the National Marine Fisheries Service, an arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It will require part-time observers on commercial vessels between 40 and 60 feet, which had been exempted.

Boats under 40 feet will continue to be exempt for 2013.




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