Delegation seeks delay in more fishery observers

Citing expense, Alaska delegation seeks delay in adding observers to smaller halibut vessels

Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Alaska's congressional delegation wants changes in federal plans to put observers on more commercial halibut fishing boats.

The observer program has been around since 1990 for large catcher and catcher-processor vessels in Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska fisheries. The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced plans to add part-time observers to vessels that are less than 60 feet but more than 40 feet.

A letter from Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich and Rep. Don Young to Commerce Department Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank claims the expanded program is poorly planned and will be expensive.

They say observers could displace crew and boost insurance costs.

The delegation says NMFS should not use observers in the small boat fleet until an electronic monitoring option is available.

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