Cost of Partial Observer Coverage May Pass to Vessel Owners

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Partial observer coverage may become more expensive for small vessel owners as funding from the National Marine Fisheries Service trails off.

It’s an issue before the North Pacific Fishery Management Council moving into the fall.

Julie Bonney with the Alaska Groundfish Data Bank sits on a sub-group of the Observer Advisory Committee tasked with reviewing potential improvements and changes to the partial coverage contract.

She spoke at the Kodiak Fisheries Work Group meeting this week.

Bonney said partial coverage began in 2013 and NMFS was providing 1.5 to 2 million dollars annually, which paid for observer work days.

“That funding quit in 2017 and basically the agency’s position is that everyone should pay their own coverage and not be supplemented in the federal process. However, I’ll note that Alaska is the only region that seems to be living in that world, and all the other regions are getting supplemental funding.”

Assemblyman Larry LeDoux said they might want to contact the borough’s D.C. lobbyist to stress the importance of continued funding, and Bonney said that could help.

“We want that $2 million to continue for the partial coverage sector because it really portrays what you’re talking about across all the other regions, which are the smaller boats, less ex-vessel revenue that needs that additional support.”

The sub-group will report to the Observer Advisory Committee in September, which in turn will present its findings to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in October.

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