[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 33 (Wednesday, February 19, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 9591-9619]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-02576]



[[Page 9591]]

Vol. 79

Wednesday,

No. 33

February 19, 2014

Part II





Department of Commerce





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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration





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50 CFR Part 660





Fisheries off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery 
Management Plan; Trawl Rationalization Program; Catch Monitor Program; 
Observer Program; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 79 , No. 33 / Wednesday, February 19, 2014 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 9592]]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 660

[Docket No. 130503447-4051-01]
RIN 0648-BD30


Fisheries off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery 
Management Plan; Trawl Rationalization Program; Catch Monitor Program; 
Observer Program

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This action would revise Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery 
regulations pertaining to certified catch monitors and certified 
observers required for vessels in the Shorebased Individual Fishery 
Quota Program, the Mothership Coop Program, the Catcher/Processor Coop 
Program, and for processing vessels in the fixed gear or open access 
fisheries. This action also specifies permitting requirements for 
persons interested in providing certified observers and certified catch 
monitor services; updates observer provider and vessels 
responsibilities relative to observer safety; makes minor revisions 
relative to administration of the programs, and proposes numerous 
housekeeping measures. This action affects individuals serving as 
certified catch monitors and observers, persons that provide certified 
catch monitors and observers, vessels that are required to carry 
certified observers, and persons that are required to employ the 
services of certified catch monitors.

DATES: Submit comments on or before March 21, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2012-0218, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov. www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-
2012-0218, NOAA-NMFS-2012-0218, click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, 
complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Fax: 206-526-6736; Attn: Becky Renko.
     Mail: William W. Stelle, Jr., Regional Administrator, West 
Coast Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115-0070; 
Attn: Becky Renko.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in 
Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
    Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other 
aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this 
proposed rule may be submitted to William W. Stelle Jr., Regional 
Administrator, West Coast Region NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., 
Seattle, WA 98115-0070 and to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
by email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 395-7285.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Becky Renko, 206-526-6110; (fax) 206-
526-6736; Becky.Renko@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery under 
the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan. The Pacific Coast 
groundfish regulations establish frameworks for certified observers and 
certified catch monitors. The framework for the certified observers 
includes: Observer coverage requirements for vessels fishing or 
processing in the shorebased Individual Fishery Quota (IFQ) program, 
Mothership (MS) Coop Program, Catcher/processor (C/P Coop Program); 
requirements for vessels to obtain observers from permitted observer 
providers; certification eligibility and decertification requirements 
for observers; and program related responsibilities for vessels, 
certified observers, and permitted observer providers. Certified 
observer coverage requirements are also specified for vessels 
processing in the limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries. 
The framework for the certified-catch monitors includes: Catch monitor 
coverage requirements for first receivers accepting shorebased IFQ 
landings; requirements for first receivers to obtain catch monitors 
from certified observer providers; certification and decertification 
procedures for catch monitors and catch monitor providers; and program-
related responsibilities for first receivers, certified catch monitors, 
and catch monitor providers. The regulations at 50 CFR 660.17 include 
an application and approval process for catch monitor provider 
certification. The catch monitor provider certification process is 
comparable to the permitting process for observer providers in the 
North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program.
    This rule would remove the existing regulations requiring vessels 
to obtain certified observers from permitted providers for the North 
Pacific Groundfish Observer Program, and would establish provider 
permitting requirements specific to the Pacific Coast groundfish 
fishery. In addition, regulations specifying certification procedures 
for catch monitor providers would be converted to permitting 
procedures. Because some provider businesses in the Pacific Coast 
groundfish fishery provide both observers and catch monitors, a 
combined permitting process for observer and catch monitor providers 
would be implemented at 50 CFR 660.18. For clarity, and to allow for a 
common permitting process for providers, new definitions would be 
added, existing definitions would be refined and observer program and 
catch monitor program terminology would be consistently applied. A new 
section would be added at 50 CFR 660.19 to consolidate the appeals 
process for certified catch monitors, certified observers and permitted 
providers. The appeals process would be available to them when they 
receive an adverse certification or permit determination. In the 
current regulations, there are separate appeals processes applicable to 
the observer program and the catch monitor program.
    This action would also revise regulatory text pertaining to 
observer safety. Fishing vessel responsibilities relative to safety 
would be revised to more closely align with the National Observer 
Program provisions at 50 CFR 600.725 and 600.746, and the prohibitions 
at 50 CFR 660.12(e) would be revised to clarify that a vessel required 
to carry an observer is prohibited from fishing (including processing) 
if NMFS, the observer provider, or the observer determines that the 
vessel is inadequate or unsafe. In addition, the observer provider 
responsibilities would require the use of the current Vessel Safety 
checklists for pre-cruise checks and that any safety-related findings 
be submitted to the Observer Program. Minor regulatory

[[Page 9593]]

changes in program administration and numerous housekeeping measures 
are also proposed in this action.

Observer Provider and Catch Monitor Provider Permitting

    Under current regulations, persons seeking to provide observer 
services must have an observer provider permit issued under regulations 
at 50 CFR 679.52 for the North Pacific groundfish fishery. Only those 
persons that were permitted for the North Pacific groundfish fishery in 
2010 may provide observers in the Pacific Coast Groundfish fishery. To 
expedite implementation of the trawl rationalization program on January 
1, 2011, it was necessary to pattern the Pacific Coast observer 
provider regulations from the North Pacific groundfish regulations. At 
that time, it was NMFS' intent that a process to issue permits for new 
observer providers for the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery would be 
implemented in a trailing rulemaking. With fewer than three persons 
qualified to provide observers for the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery 
in 2013, the current regulations should be revised so that new, 
additional observer providers can receive permits and provide services 
in the Pacific Coast groundfish fisheries.
    At the Pacific Fishery Management Council's (Council) April 2012 
meeting, the Council recommended draft regulations for certification 
and decertification of observer providers establishing a process 
similar to that currently in place for catch monitor providers. 
Establishing regulations for the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery was 
considered necessary to allow for the entry of new observer providers 
separate from those that provide observers in the Alaska groundfish 
fisheries. During the development of this rulemaking, NMFS gave further 
consideration to the North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program 
framework that requires observer providers obtain permits, rather than 
certifications. Prior to 2003, the North Pacific groundfish fishery's 
observer framework required that observer providers obtain 
certifications. However, in 2002 the North Pacific groundfish fishery 
observer regulations were revised and the certification process was 
replaced with a permitting process (67 FR 72596; December 6, 2002).
    Provider permits authorize persons to provide observer services and 
are more business-oriented, granting permission to perform specific 
activities. This is in contrast to a certification which is generally 
used to grant permission to the holder to perform tasks providing some 
minimum training. NMFS believes that the proposed process for 
evaluation of observer provider applications and issuance of permits 
has clear application requirements and evaluation criteria while 
providing NMFS with flexibility and discretion in its decision whether 
to issue the permit.
    Under current regulations, persons who wish to provide catch 
monitor services must obtain certification under regulations at 50 CFR 
660.17. Regulations at Sec.  660.17 contain certification procedures 
and regulations at Sec.  660.18 contain decertification procedures for 
catch monitor providers. This action would replace the catch monitor 
certification process with a permitting process, which is primarily a 
nomenclature change. Although current regulations establish 
certification and decertification procedures for catch monitor 
providers, to date, all catch monitor providers have been permitted as 
observer providers for the North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program. 
Existing certified catch monitor providers would be ``grandfathered''; 
issued permits in place of the current certification.
    This action proposes a single, combined permit application process 
for catch monitor and observer providers. The permit application 
procedures would be similar to those used in the North Pacific 
Groundfish Fishery Observer Program. New provider permits would be 
obtained through an application process. Both new and grandfathered 
permits would be renewed annually to ensure that the business 
information was current and the permit holder continues to meet 
eligibility criteria.
    There are two types of endorsements that would be attached to a 
provider permit; an observer endorsement and a catch monitor 
endorsement. During the application process, new providers would 
specify which endorsement(s) they are seeking. Provider permits must 
have at least one endorsement and it must be appropriate for the 
services being provided. A provider permit expires if it is not renewed 
or when services have not been provided for a period of 12 months. 
Providing a single application process reduces duplication for persons 
that provide both observers and catch monitors.
    Observer and catch monitor providers contribute an important 
service to NMFS by recruiting, hiring, and deploying motivated 
individuals to serve as observers and catch monitors. NMFS must ensure 
that observer providers meet minimum requirements so that this 
important service is consistently maintained. NMFS would, in its 
discretion, issue permits to applicants who: Demonstrate that they 
understand the scope of the regulations they will be held to; document 
how they will comply with those regulations; demonstrate that they have 
the business infrastructure necessary to carry out the job; are free 
from conflict of interest; do not have past performance problems on a 
Federal contract or any history of decertification as either an 
observer or observer provider; and are free from criminal convictions 
for certain serious offenses that could reflect on their ability to 
carry out the role of application. Upon issuance of an observer 
provider permit, an observer provider permit holder would be held 
accountable for all applicable regulations promulgated by NMFS.
    Provider applications may be submitted at any time during the year. 
Once a complete application is received, NMFS' review process would 
begin and take at least a month. Therefore, applicants would need to 
plan accordingly. Applications submitted in the fourth quarter of any 
given calendar year (October 1 to December 31) may not be processed 
until the following year. The application process would be described in 
regulation and include an application review by a board appointed by 
NMFS, as well as permit eligibility standards. If necessary, the review 
board would contact the applicant for further information. If the 
applicant fails to meet the permitting criteria, a decision to deny an 
application would be made and written notification provided to the 
applicant. The written notice would describe why the application was 
denied. The denial of an observer or catch monitor provider permit 
application would constitute final agency action and an appeal for 
further NMFS' review would not be available. However, an applicant who 
is denied a permit may correct the original application's deficiencies 
and submit a new application. NMFS would have discretion to either 
grant or deny an issuance of a catch monitor or observer provider 
permit.
    Persons that provided observers and catch monitors in the 12 months 
prior to the effective date of this rule will be issued a provider 
permit without needing to submit an application. The existing record 
regarding performance and the ability to provide observer or catch 
monitor services would be adequate documentation. Existing providers 
would not be required to submit a new application unless they were 
seeking additional endorsements.
    A permit issued to a catch monitor or observer provider would 
remain effective until the expiration date on the

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permit, December 31 of that year, unless: An ownership change occurs 
that requires application for a new permit; the permitted provider 
ceases to deploy observers to groundfish fisheries during a period of 
12 continuous months; or the permit issued to an observer provider is 
suspended, revoked, or voided. To remain in effect in the subsequent 
years, provider permits must be renewed prior to the December 31 permit 
expiration date. If an existing provider fails to renew the provider 
permit, the provider permit will expire on the permit expiration date. 
NMFS will send a renewal form on or about October 1. The provider must 
verify that all information is current and return the form by November 
30, to be assured that there is no lapse in the permit. The purpose of 
the annual renewal is to verify that the management, organizational, 
and ownership structure is unchanged; to update provider contact 
information; and to assure there are no new conflict of interests or 
state or federal criminal convictions that could affect the wellbeing 
of observers or catch monitors.
    If a permit lapses after a period of 12 months of inactivity as 
described above, NMFS would issue an Initial Administrative Decision 
(IAD) to the permit holder stating that NMFS records indicate that the 
permit had lapsed and that the permit holder has the opportunity to 
appeal the determination. The IAD would also describe the appeals 
process available to the permit holder. Permit for holders who appeal 
this IAD would remain valid while during the appeal process.
    Potential violations regarding observer or catch monitor providers, 
including those serious enough to warrant possible suspension or 
revocation of a provider's permit, would be forwarded to NMFS Office 
for Law Enforcement (OLE) for investigation. Procedures governing 
sanctions of permits are found at subpart D of 15 CFR Part 904.

Observer Safety

    Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act National Standard 10, conservation 
and management measures must promote the safety of human life at sea. 
Consistent with that standard, NMFS has promulgated numerous regulatory 
provisions designed to promote not just vessel safety, but observer 
safety, as well. Current Pacific Coast groundfish regulations and 
National Observer Program regulations at 50 CFR 600.746 require that 
vessels carrying observers in the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery have 
a valid Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Decal certifying compliance 
with regulations found in 33 CFR Chapter I and 46 CFR Chapter I, or in 
mitigating circumstances a certificate of compliance issued pursuant to 
46 CFR 28.710 or a valid certificate of inspection pursuant to 46 
U.S.C. 3311.
    On December 20, 2012 the Coast Guard and Maritime Act of 2012 was 
signed. The Act requires significant changes in safety and survival 
equipment requirements for commercial fishing industry vessels 
including, fishing vessels and fish processing vessels. In anticipation 
of regulatory changes at 46 CFR Chapter I, part 28, NMFS reviewed the 
Pacific Coast groundfish regulations pertaining to observer safety. The 
review found that safety related cross references were not consistent 
throughout the regulations; that the observer provider responsibilities 
did not clearly state that the most current observer vessel safety 
checklist must be completed prior to an observer's first cruise or that 
the checklist needed to be provided to the Observer Program; nor did 
the regulations clearly state that a vessel is prohibited from fishing 
if NMFS, the observer provider or the observer determine that a vessel 
is unsafe or inadequate for an observer. This action proposes to revise 
regulatory language pertaining to observer safety found under the 
observer provider responsibilities (50 CFR 660.140(h)(2)(ix), 
660.150(j)(5)(ix), 660.160 (g)(5)(ix)), vessel responsibilities 
(Sec. Sec.  660.140(h)(2)(ii)(B), 660.150(j)(2)(ii)(B), 
660.160(g)(2)(ii)(B), 660.216(e)(2), 660.316(e)(2)), and prohibitions 
(Sec. Sec.  660.12(e) and 660.112).

Limited Entry Fixed Gear and Open Access Observer Requirements

    Observer requirements in Sec. Sec.  660.216 and 660.316 would be 
amended by this action. Regulation implementing the trawl 
rationalization program (75 FR 32994, June 10, 2010) moved the observer 
regulations from a general observer section that applied to all sectors 
of the fishery to newly created sections for each fishing sector. The 
reorganization resulted in unintended changes to the observer 
requirements for the limited entry fixed gear and open access sectors. 
Subsequent regulations reinstated coverage provisions for processing 
vessels that had inadvertently been removed. However, revisions are 
necessary to clarify which observer provisions apply to harvesting 
vessels and which apply to processing vessels; for processing vessels, 
the regulations would clearly state who had to be contacted to obtain a 
certified observer. Safety provisions would be updated to be consistent 
with the requirements described in the previous section.

Minor Regulatory Changes and Housekeeping Measures

    Numerous minor non-substantive and housekeeping changes are being 
proposed for improved Observer Program and Catch Monitor Program 
administration. The changes involve removing outdated regulatory text, 
adding clarification to existing text without changing the intended 
meaning, and revising to ensure consistent use of terms throughout the 
entire chapter. The proposed minor and housekeeping changes are 
summarized below:
     Proposed revisions to the Observer Program regulations at 
Sec.  660.140 (Shorebased IFQ Program), Sec.  660.150 (MS Coop 
Program), and Sec.  660.160 (C/P Coop Program) are intended to clarify 
the existing policies and practices. These changes include: (1) 
Revising communication requirements to reflect current practices; (2) 
removing outdated reporting requirements; (3) adding descriptions of 
transportation requirements for deployed observers; (4) revising 
timelines on the issuance of an observer certification; (5) adding 
components to observers certification requiring annual safety training 
and fish identification testing; (6) broadening the statement 
describing the required briefings so fishery specific briefings such 
the briefing for the Pacific whiting fishery are explicitly required by 
regulation; and (7) removing unnecessary requirements of the physician 
statement for certified observers.
     In the general prohibitions at Sec.  660.12, incorrect 
references regarding cease fishing reports would be moved to the trawl 
prohibitions at Sec.  660.112, and the remaining prohibitions would be 
consolidated.
     At Sec.  660.60, cross references are updated.
     At Sec.  660.112, a prohibition relative to observer 
coverage while a vessel is in port is simplified and linking text at 
Sec.  660.140(h) is revised for clarity.
     In Sec.  660.16, a table displaying current observer 
coverage requirements would be revised to show the Observer Program 
office overseeing the observers.
     Proposed revisions to the Catch Monitor Program 
regulations at Sec.  660.17 are intended to more clearly state the 
current policies and practices. These changes include: (1) Revising 
communication requirements to reflect current practices; (2) revising 
language pertaining to the disclosure of catch monitor data to align 
requirements other similar text in other paragraphs and

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sections; (3) removing unnecessary requirements of the physician 
statement; (4) adding text to explain that a catch monitor 
certification expires if the individual is not deployed for 12 months; 
and (5) clarifying the provider policies regarding standards of conduct 
consistent with those specified for observer providers.
     In Sec.  660.16, paragraphs (d) and (e) are added, and in 
Sec.  660.17, paragraphs (a) to (c) are added to make Observer Program 
regulations Catch Monitor Program regulations consistent.
    Physical fitness examinations and requirements of the physician 
statements are currently being reviewed by the National Observer 
Program. Modifications to the groundfish regulations being proposed at 
Sec. Sec.  660.17(e)(1)(vii)(A), 660.140(h)(5)(xi)(B), and 
660.150(j)(5)(xi)(B)(2) may be withdrawn or further modified in the 
final rule pending the outcome of the review.
    NMFS believes that the limitations on the conflict of interests for 
observer and catch monitor providers are too narrow and increase the 
risk that professional judgment or actions related to the interest of 
observers or catch monitors would be unduly influenced by a secondary 
interest in a fishing related business. Current regulations limit only 
those businesses with a direct financial interest in a North Pacific 
fishery managed pursuant to an FMP for the waters off the coast of 
Alaska, Alaska state waters, or in a Pacific Coast fishery managed by 
either the state or Federal Governments in waters off Washington, 
Oregon, or California from being observer or catch monitor providers. 
The only exception to these standards would be an allowance to provide 
observer and catch monitor services. NMFS is considering whether to use 
its authority under section 305(d) of the Magnuson Stevens Act (MSA) to 
broaden the limitations to restrict providers from having a direct 
financial interest in any federal or state managed fisheries with the 
exception of an allowance to provide observers, catch monitor or other 
biological sampling services. NMFS invites comments from the public on 
this issue.

Classifications

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) and 305(d) of the MSA, the NMFS 
has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the 
Groundfish FMP, the MSA, and other applicable law, subject to further 
consideration after public comment.
    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order12866.
    NMFS has prepared an initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) 
as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The 
IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule would have on 
small entities. The preamble contains a description of the action, why 
it is considered, and the legal basis for this action (see the 
beginning of this section in the preamble and the SUMMARY section of 
the preamble). NMFS also prepared a Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) for 
this action. A copy of the RIR/IRFA is available from NMFS (see 
ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA, per the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 
604(a) follows:
    The Small Business Administration (SBA) has established size 
criteria for all major industry sectors in the U.S., including fish 
harvesting and fish processing businesses. A business involved in fish 
harvesting is a small business if it is independently owned and 
operated and not dominant in its field of operation (including its 
affiliates), and if it has combined annual receipts not in excess of 
$19 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide. The SBA 
recently revised the small business size standards for some fishery 
related businesses (78 FR 37398, June 20, 2013). The rule increased the 
size standard for Finfish Fishing from $4.0 to 19.0 million, Shellfish 
Fishing from $4.0 to 5.0 million, and Other Marine Fishing from $4.0 to 
7.0 million, Id. at 37400 (Table 1). A seafood processor is a small 
business if it is independently owned and operated, not dominant in its 
field of operation, and employs 500 or fewer persons on a full-time, 
part-time, temporary, or other basis, at all its affiliated operations 
worldwide. Prior to SBA's recent changes to the size standards for 
commercial harvesters, a business involved in both the harvesting and 
processing of seafood products, also referred to as a catcher/processor 
(CP), was considered a small business if it met the $4.0 million 
criterion for commercial fish harvesting operations. In light of the 
new size standards for commercial harvesters, NMFS is reviewing the 
size standard for CPs. However, for purposes of this rulemaking, NMFS 
is applying the $19 million standard because whiting CPs are involved 
in the commercial harvest of finfish. A wholesale business servicing 
the fishing industry is a small business if it employs 100 or fewer 
persons on a full-time, part-time, temporary, or other basis, at all 
its affiliated operations worldwide. For marinas and charter/party 
boats, a small business is one with annual receipts, not in excess of 
$7.0 million. There are no specific SBA defined size criteria for 
observer providers. For this sector, NMFS Alaska Region has employed 
the $7.0 million in gross annual receipts size standard based on SBA 
standards associated with firms engaged in placing technical employees. 
(See: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/analyses/observer/ririrfa_soc_observer_0209.pdf)
    This proposed rule affects current and future businesses that 
supply observers for monitoring fishing and processing activities on a 
vessel at-sea and catch monitors who observe and document offloads at 
first receiver/processing plants on shore. The actions listed above are 
intended to establish permitting requirements for businesses providing 
certified observers and catch monitors; make regulations consistent 
with The Coast Guard and Maritime Act of 2012; and make minor 
administrative and housekeeping changes.
    Currently, companies that supply observers have undergone the 
permit processes used for North Pacific Fisheries. This proposed 
rulemaking would create a new permitting process for Pacific groundfish 
fisheries. Currently, businesses supplying catch monitors undergo a 
certification process. This proposed rulemaking would convert this 
process into a permitting process. Under the current process of 
certification, potential providers submit an application and receive a 
letter or approval or denial from NMFS. Under the proposed permit 
process, potential providers will submit a similar application, but 
will either receive a permit or a letter of denial. Providers that 
existed during the 12 months prior to the rule will be grandfathered 
into the new system. Rather than create two different permits, one for 
supplying observers and one for supplying catch monitors, under the 
proposed regulations there will only be one permit process. Under this 
process, a company can request to have an observer endorsement or a 
catch monitor endorsement or both. NMFS NWR currently has permitted 
five observer provider companies: Alaskan Observers, Inc.; NWO, Inc.; 
Saltwater Observers, Inc.; TechSea International; and MRAG Americas, 
Inc. The principal activity of most of these companies has been to 
provide observers for Alaska groundfish fisheries the North Pacific, 
but they also provide observers for other fisheries such and the 
Pacific Groundfish fishery. Regulations require observers in all 
sectors and catch monitors at first landings/processing sites. 
Therefore, this proposed rule

[[Page 9596]]

indirectly affects participants in the following: IFQ Program, 
Mothership Coop Program, and Catcher/Processor Coop Program. Two 
companies, Alaskan Observers, Inc. and Saltwater Observers, Inc., are 
providing observers and monitors for the IFQ Program. The other sectors 
may be using the other companies as they typically also fish off 
Alaska. There are 144 shoreside vessel accounts, 36 mothership endorsed 
limited entry permits, 6 mothership permits, 10 catcher/processor 
permits, and 51shorebased first receiver site licenses. Taking into 
account cross participation, multiple accounts, and affiliation between 
entities, NMFS estimates that there are 145 fishery related entities 
indirectly affected by these proposed regulations as they need to 
acquire observers for their vessels and monitors for their shoreside 
processing plants. Of these entities, 102 are ``small'' businesses. 
This rule directly affects the five providers currently permitted to 
operate in the fishery. NMFS considers these all small businesses (75 
FR 69016 November 10, 2010).
    The benefits from these regulations are largely administrative in 
nature and minor in the context of the entire program. In terms of 
economic effects, the main impact is requiring observer providers to 
obtain a Pacific Groundfish Provider permit. These regulations will 
allow for entry of new providers, separate from the five that have 
provided observers in the Alaska groundfish fisheries. There will be an 
administrative fee charged for issuing permits. NMFS projects these 
fees to be about $165 for renewals and $550 for new permits.
    Based on the discussion above, this proposed rule would not have a 
significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities. 
This rulemaking is largely administrative in nature. There are no 
significant alternatives to the proposed rule that accomplish the 
stated objectives of applicable statutes, and that minimize the impact 
of the proposed rule on small entities. The benefits of these 
regulations include more understandable and less complex regulations 
and the potential for increased provider companies in the fishery. 
Additional companies may lower costs to fishing vessels and processors 
and alleviate logistical/scheduling issues with providing observers and 
monitors to the various ports. Nonetheless, for transparency purposes, 
NMFS has prepared this IRFA. Through the rulemaking process associated 
with this action, we are requesting comments on this conclusion.
    This proposed rule contains a new collection-of-information 
requirement subject to review and approval by OMB under the Paperwork 
Reduction Act (PRA). This requirement has been submitted to OMB for 
approval as revisions to OMB collection 0648-0619 and 0648-0500. The 
estimated public reporting burden for OMB collection 0648-0619, 
provider permit applications, is an average of 10 hours per response, 
annual renewal of provider permits is estimated to average 2 hours per 
response, and appeals of permits that have been expire after a period 
of 12 continuous months during which no observers or catch monitors are 
deployed average 4 hours per response, including the time for reviewing 
instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and 
maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the 
collection information. NMFS estimates the public reporting burden for 
OMB collection 0648-0500, the submission of vessel safety checklists, 
averages 5 minutes per response.
    Public comment is sought regarding: Whether this proposed 
collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of 
the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall 
have practical utility; the accuracy of the burden estimate; ways to 
enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be 
collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collection of 
information, including through the use of automated collection 
techniques or other forms of information technology. Send comments on 
these or any other aspects of the collection of information to West 
Coast Region at the ADDRESSES above, and by email to OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 395-7285.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is 
required to respond to, and no person shall be subject to penalty for 
failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the 
requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays 
a currently valid OMB control number.
    Pursuant to Executive Order 13175, this proposed rule was developed 
after meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal officials 
from the area covered by the PCGFMP. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act at 
16 U.S.C. 1852(b)(5), one of the voting members of the Pacific Council 
must be a representative of an Indian tribe with federally recognized 
fishing rights from the area of the Council's jurisdiction. The 
proposed regulations do not require the tribes to change from their 
current practices.
    NMFS issued Biological Opinions under the Endangered Species Act 
(ESA) on August 10, 1990, November 26, 1991, August 28, 1992, September 
27, 1993, May 14, 1996, and December 15, 1999 pertaining to the effects 
of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (PCGFMP) 
fisheries on Chinook salmon (Puget Sound, Snake River spring/summer, 
Snake River fall, upper Columbia River spring, lower Columbia River, 
upper Willamette River, Sacramento River winter, Central Valley spring, 
California coastal), coho salmon (Central California coastal, southern 
Oregon/northern California coastal), chum salmon (Hood Canal summer, 
Columbia River), sockeye salmon (Snake River, Ozette Lake), and 
steelhead (upper, middle and lower Columbia River, Snake River Basin, 
upper Willamette River, central California coast, California Central 
Valley, south/central California, northern California, southern 
California). These biological opinions have concluded that 
implementation of the PCGFMP for the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery 
is not expected to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered 
or threatened species under the jurisdiction of NMFS, or result in the 
destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.
    NMFS issued a Supplemental Biological Opinion on March 11, 2006 
concluding that neither the higher observed bycatch of Chinook in the 
2005 whiting fishery nor new data regarding salmon bycatch in the 
groundfish bottom trawl fishery required a reconsideration of its prior 
``no jeopardy'' conclusion. NMFS also reaffirmed its prior 
determination that implementation of the Groundfish PCGFMP is not 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any of the affected 
ESUs. Lower Columbia River coho (70 FR 37160, June 28, 2005) and Oregon 
Coastal coho (73 FR 7816, February 11, 2008) were recently relisted as 
threatened under the ESA. The 1999 biological opinion concluded that 
the bycatch of salmonids in the Pacific whiting fishery were almost 
entirely Chinook salmon, with little or no bycatch of coho, chum, 
sockeye, and steelhead.
    On December 7, 2012, NMFS completed a biological opinion concluding 
that the groundfish fishery is not likely to jeopardize non-salmonid 
marine species including listed eulachon, green sturgeon, humpback 
whales, Steller sea lions, and leatherback sea turtles. The opinion 
also concludes that the fishery is not likely to adversely modify 
critical habitat for green sturgeon and leatherback sea

[[Page 9597]]

turtles. An analysis included in the same document as the opinion 
concludes that the fishery is not likely to adversely affect green sea 
turtles, olive ridley sea turtles, loggerhead sea turtles, sei whales, 
North Pacific right whales, blue whales, fin whales, sperm whales, 
Southern Resident killer whales, Guadalupe fur seals, or the critical 
habitat for Steller sea lions.
    As Steller sea lions and humpback whales are also protected under 
the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), incidental take of these 
species from the groundfish fishery must be addressed under MMPA 
section 101(a)(5)(E). On February 27, 2012, NMFS published notice that 
the incidental taking of Steller sea lions in the West Coast groundfish 
fisheries is addressed in NMFS' December 29, 2010 Negligible Impact 
Determination and this fishery has been added to the list of fisheries 
authorized to take Steller sea lions (77 FR 11493, Feb. 27, 2012). NMFS 
is currently developing MMPA authorization for the incidental take of 
humpback whales in the fishery.
    On November 21, 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) 
issued a biological opinion concluding that the groundfish fishery will 
not jeopardize the continued existence of the short-tailed albatross. 
The FWS also concurred that the fishery is not likely to adversely 
affect the marbled murrelet, California least tern, southern sea otter, 
bull trout, nor bull trout critical habitat.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian fisheries.

    Dated: February 3, 2014.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
    For the reasons stated in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is proposed 
to be amended as follows:

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

0
1. The authority citation for part 660 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 
16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq.

0
2. In Sec.  660.11:
0
a. Add definitions, in alphabetical order, for ``Catch Monitor Program 
or Catch Monitor Program Office'', ``Catch monitor provider'', and 
``Observer provider''; and
0
b. Revise the definitions for ``Observer Program or Observer Program 
Office'' and ``Sustainable Fisheries Division or SFD'' to read as 
follows:


Sec.  660.11  General definitions.

* * * * *
    Catch Monitor Program or Catch Monitor Program Office means the 
Catch Monitor Program Office of the West Coast Region, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
    Catch monitor provider means any person or commercial enterprise 
that is granted a permit by NMFS to provide certified catch monitors as 
required in Sec.  660.140.
* * * * *
    Observer Program or Observer Program Office means the Observer 
Program Office of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, National 
Marine Fisheries Service, Seattle, Washington. Branch offices within 
the Observer Program include the West Coast Groundfish Observer Program 
and the At-Sea Hake Observer Program.
    Observer provider means any person or commercial enterprise that is 
granted a permit by NMFS to provide certified observers as required at 
Sec. Sec.  660.140, 660.150, 660.160, 660.216 or 660.316.
* * * * *
    Sustainable Fisheries Division or SFD means the Assistant Regional 
Administrator of the Sustainable Fisheries Division, West Coast Region, 
NMFS, or a designee.
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  660.12, revise paragraphs (e)(5) through (9) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  660.12  General groundfish prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (5) Fish for, land, or process fish without observer coverage when 
a vessel is required to carry an observer under subparts C through G of 
this part.
    (6) Fish when a vessel is required to carry an observer under 
subparts C through G of this part if:
    (i) The vessel is inadequate for observer deployment as specified 
at Sec.  600.746 of this chapter;
    (ii) The vessel does not maintain safe conditions for an observer 
as specified at Sec. Sec.  660.140(h), 660.150(j), and 660.160(g); or
    (iii) NMFS, the observer provider, or the observer determines the 
vessel is inadequate or unsafe pursuant to vessel responsibilities to 
maintain safe conditions as specified at Sec. Sec.  660.140(h), 
660.150(j), and 660.160(g).
    (7) Require, pressure, coerce, or threaten an observer to perform 
duties normally performed by crew members, including, but not limited 
to, cooking, washing dishes, standing watch, vessel maintenance, 
assisting with the setting or retrieval of gear, or any duties 
associated with the processing of fish, from sorting the catch to the 
storage of the finished product.
    (8) Fail to meet the vessel responsibilities and observer coverage 
requirements specified at Sec. Sec.  660.140(h), 660.150(j), 
660.160(g), 660.216, or 660.316.
    (9) Fail to meet the observer provider responsibilities specified 
at Sec. Sec.  660.140(h), 660.150(j), 660.160(g), 660.216, or 660.316.
* * * * *
0
4. In Sec.  660.16, revise paragraph (a) and the table in paragraph (c) 
and add paragraphs (d) and (e) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.16  Groundfish Observer Program.

    (a) General. Vessel owners, operators, and managers are jointly and 
severally responsible for their vessel's compliance with observer 
requirements specified in this section and within Sec. Sec.  660.140, 
660.150, 660.160, 660.216, or 660.316.
* * * * *
    (c) * * *

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    Regulation        Observer program
 West Coast groundfish fishery       section           branch office
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(1) Shorebased IFQ Program--    Sec.   660.140(h)  West Coast
 Trawl Fishery.                                     Groundfish.
(2) MS Coop Program--Whiting    Sec.   660.150(j)
 At-sea Trawl Fishery.
    A) Motherships............  .................  A) At-Sea Hake.
    B) Catcher Vessels........  .................  B) West Coast
                                                    Groundfish.
(3) C/P Coop Program--Whiting   Sec.   660.160(g)  At-Sea Hake.
 At-sea Trawl Fishery.
(4) Fixed Gear Fisheries......  Sec.   660.216...
    A) Harvester vessels......  .................  A) West Coast
                                                    Groundfish.
    B) Processing vessels.....  .................  B) West Coast
                                                    Groundfish.
(5) Open Access Fisheries.....  Sec.   660.316...
    A) Harvester vessels......  .................  A) West Coast
                                                    Groundfish.
    B) Processing vessels.....  .................  B) West Coast
                                                    Groundfish.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 9598]]

    (d) Observer certifications and responsibilities. For the 
Shorebased IFQ Program see Sec.  660.140(h), for the MS Coop Program 
see Sec.  660.150(j), and, for the C/P Coop Program see Sec.  
660.160(g).
    (e) Application process to become an observer provider. See Sec.  
660.18.
0
5. In Sec.  660.17:
0
a. Revise the section heading;
0
b. Remove paragraphs (b) and (d);
0
c. Redesignate paragraph (a) as (d), paragraph (c) as (e), and 
paragraph (e) as (f).
0
d. Revise newly redesignated paragraphs (d), (e), (f)(1)(vii), (f)(2), 
(f)(4) through (6), (f)(8)(i)(B), (C), and (F), (f)(9)(ii), and (f)(11) 
through (13);
0
e. Add paragraphs (a) through (c) and (g) to read as follows.


Sec.  660.17  Catch monitor program.

    (a) General. The first receiver site license holder, the first 
receiver site license authorized representative, facility operators and 
managers are jointly and severally responsible for the first receiver 
being in compliance with catch monitor requirements specified in this 
section and at Sec.  660.140 (i).
    (b) Purpose. The purpose of the Catch Monitor Program is to, among 
other related matters, confirm that the IFQ landings are accurately 
sorted, weighed and reported on electronic fish tickets.
    (c) Catch monitor coverage requirements. Catch monitor coverage 
requirements for the Shorebased IFQ Program are specified at Sec.  
660.140(i).
    (d) Catch monitor certification and responsibilities. Catch monitor 
certification authorizes an individual to fulfill duties as specified 
by NMFS while under the employ of a catch monitor provider.
    (1) Catch monitor training certification. A training certification 
signifies the successful completion of the training course required to 
obtain catch monitor certification. This certification expires when the 
catch monitor has not been deployed and performed sampling duties as 
required by the Catch Monitor Program Office for a period of time, 
specified by the Catch Monitor Program, after his or her most recent 
debriefing. The certification is renewed by successful completion of 
the training course.
    (2) Catch Monitor Program annual briefing. Each catch monitor must 
attend a briefing prior to his or her first deployment within any 
calendar year subsequent to a year in which a training certification is 
obtained. To maintain a certification, a catch monitor must 
successfully complete any required briefing specified by the Catch 
Monitor Program. All briefing attendance, performance, and conduct 
standards required by the Catch Monitor Program must be met prior to 
any deployment.
    (3) Catch monitor certification requirements. NMFS may certify 
individuals who:
    (i) Are employed by a catch monitor provider at the time of the 
issuance of the certification and qualified, as described at paragraph 
(f)(1)(i) through (viii) of this section and have provided proof of 
qualifications to NMFS, through the catch monitor provider.
    (ii) Have successfully completed catch monitor certification 
training.
    (A) Successful completion of training by an applicant consists of 
meeting all attendance and conduct standards; meeting all performance 
standards for assignments, tests, and other evaluation tools; and 
completing all other training requirements established by the Catch 
Monitor Program.
    (B) If a candidate fails training, he or she will be notified in 
writing on or before the last day of training. The notification will 
indicate: The reasons the candidate failed the training; whether the 
candidate can retake the training, and under what conditions.
    (iii) Have not been decertified as an observer or catch monitor 
under provisions in Sec. Sec.  660.17(g), and 660.140(h)(6), 
660.150(j)(5), 660.160(g)(5) or 679.53(c).
    (4) Maintaining the validity of a catch monitor certification. 
After initial issuance, a catch monitor must keep their certification 
valid by meeting all of the following requirements specified below:
    (i) Successfully perform their assigned duties as described in the 
Catch Monitor Manual or other written instructions from the Catch 
Monitor Program.
    (ii) Accurately record their data, write complete reports, and 
report accurately any observations of suspected violations of 
regulations relevant to conservation of marine resources or their 
environment.
    (iii) Consistent with NOAA data confidentiality guidance, not 
disclose data and observations made on board a vessel to any person 
except the owner or operator of the observed vessel, an authorized 
state or OLE officer, NMFS or the Catch Monitor Program; and, not 
disclose data and observations made at a first receiver to any person 
other than the first receiver site license holder, the first receiver 
site license authorized representative, facility operators and 
managers, an authorized state or OLE officer, NMFS or the Catch Monitor 
Program.
    (iv) Successfully complete any required briefings as prescribed by 
the Catch Monitor Program.
    (v) Successful completion of a briefing by a catch monitor consists 
of meeting all attendance and conduct standards issued in writing at 
the start of training; meeting all performance standards issued in 
writing at the start of training for assignments, tests, and other 
evaluation tools; and completing all other briefing requirements 
established by the Catch Monitor Program.
    (vi) Successfully meet all debriefing expectations including catch 
monitor performance standards and reporting for assigned debriefings.
    (vii) Submit all data and information required by the Catch Monitor 
Program within the program's stated guidelines.
    (viii) Have been deployed as a catch monitor within the 12 months 
prior to any required briefing, unless otherwise authorized by the 
Catch Monitor Program.
    (e) Catch monitor standards of behavior. Catch monitors must do the 
following:
    (1) Perform authorized duties as described in training and 
instructional manuals or other written and oral instructions provided 
by the Catch Monitor Program.
    (2) Accurately record and submit the required data, which includes 
fish species composition, identification, sorting, and weighing 
information.
    (3) Write complete reports, and report accurately any observations 
of suspected violations of regulations.
    (4) Returns phone calls, emails, text messages, or other forms of 
communication within the time specified by the Catch Monitor Program.
    (5) Not disclose data and observations made on board a vessel to 
any person except the owner or operator of the observed vessel, an 
authorized officer, NMFS or the Catch Monitor Program; and, not 
disclose data and observations made at a first receiver to any person 
other than the first receiver site license holder, the first receiver 
site license authorized representative, facility operators and managers 
an authorized officer, NMFS or the Catch Monitor Program.
    (f) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (vii) Have had health and physical fitness exams and been found to 
be fit for the job duties and work conditions;
    (A) Physical fitness exams shall be conducted by a medical doctor 
who has been provided with a description of the job duties and work 
conditions and who provides a written conclusion regarding the 
candidate's fitness relative to the required duties and work 
conditions. A signed and dated statement from a licensed physician that 
he or she has physically examined a catch monitor or

[[Page 9599]]

catch monitor candidate. The statement must confirm that, based on that 
physical examination, the catch monitor or catch monitor candidate does 
not have any health problems or conditions that would jeopardize that 
individual's safety or the safety of others while deployed, or prevent 
the catch monitor or catch monitor candidate from performing his or her 
duties satisfactorily. The physician's statement must be submitted to 
the Catch Monitor Program office prior to certification of a catch 
monitor. The physical exam must have occurred during the 12 months 
prior to the catch monitor's or catch monitor candidate's deployment.
    (B) Copies of ``certificates of insurance,'' that names the Catch 
Monitor Program Coordinator as the ``certificate holder,'' shall be 
submitted to the Catch Monitor Program Office by February 1 of each 
year. The certificates of insurance shall verify the following coverage 
provisions and state that the insurance company will notify the 
certificate holder if insurance coverage is changed or canceled.
    (1) Coverage under the U.S. Longshore and Harbor Workers' 
Compensation Act ($1 million minimum).
    (2) States Worker's Compensation as required.
    (3) Commercial General Liability.
* * * * *
    (2) Catch Monitor conduct and behavior. A catch monitor provider 
must develop and maintain a policy addressing conduct and behavior for 
their employees that serve as catch monitors.
    (i) The policy shall address the following behavior and conduct 
regarding:
    (A) Catch monitor use of alcohol;
    (B) Catch monitor, possession, or distribution of illegal drugs; 
and
    (C) Sexual contact with personnel off the vessels or processing 
facility to which the catch monitor is assigned, or with any vessel or 
processing plant personnel who may be substantially affected by the 
performance or non-performance of the catch monitor's official duties.
    (ii) A catch monitor provider shall provide a copy of its conduct 
and behavior policy to each observer candidate and to the Catch Monitor 
Program by February 1 of each year.
* * * * *
    (4) Catch monitors provided to a first receiver. (i) Must have a 
valid catch monitor certification;
    (ii) Must not have informed the catch monitor provider prior to the 
time of assignment that he or she is experiencing a mental illness or a 
physical ailment or injury developed since submission of the 
physician's statement, as required in paragraph (f)(1)(vii)(A) of this 
section that would prevent him or her from performing his or her 
assigned duties; and
    (iii) Must have successfully completed all Catch Monitor Program 
required training and briefing before assignment.
    (5) Respond to industry requests for catch monitors. A catch 
monitor provider must provide a catch monitor for assignment pursuant 
to the terms of the contractual relationship with the first receiver to 
fulfill first receiver requirements for catch monitor coverage under 
Sec.  660.140(i)(1). An alternate catch monitor must be supplied in 
each case where injury or illness prevents the catch monitor from 
performing his or her duties or where the catch monitor resigns prior 
to completion of his or her duties. If the catch monitor provider is 
unable to respond to an industry request for catch monitor coverage 
from a first receiver for whom the catch monitor provider is in a 
contractual relationship due to the lack of available catch monitors, 
the catch monitor provider must report it to NMFS at least 4 hours 
prior to the expected assignment time.
    (6) Ensure that catch monitors complete duties in a timely manner. 
Catch monitor providers must ensure that catch monitors employed by 
that catch monitor provider do the following in a complete and timely 
manner:
    (i) Submit to NMFS all data, logbooks and reports as required under 
the Catch Monitor Program deadlines.
    (ii) Report for his or her scheduled debriefing and complete all 
debriefing responsibilities.
* * * * *
    (8) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (B) Has Internet access for Catch Monitor Program communications 
and data submission;
    (C) Remains available to OLE and the Catch Monitor Program until 
the completion of the catch monitors' debriefing.
* * * * *
    (F) While under contract with a catch monitor provider, each catch 
monitor shall be provided with accommodations in accordance with the 
contract between the catch monitor and the catch monitor provider. If 
the catch monitor provider is responsible for providing accommodations 
under the contract with the catch monitor, the accommodations must be 
at a licensed hotel, motel, bed and breakfast, or other accommodations 
that have an assigned bed for each catch monitor that no other person 
may be assigned to for the duration of that catch monitor's stay.
* * * * *
    (9) * * *
    (ii) Not exceed catch monitor assignment limitations and workload 
as outlined in Sec.  660.140(i)(3)(ii).
* * * * *
    (11) Maintain communications with the Catch Monitor Program office. 
A catch monitor provider must provide all of the following information 
by electronic transmission (email), fax, or other method specified by 
NMFS.
    (i) Catch monitor training, briefing, and debriefing registration 
materials. This information must be submitted to the Catch Monitor 
Program at least 10 business days prior to the beginning of a scheduled 
catch monitor certification training or briefing session.
    (A) Training registration materials consist of the following:
    (1) Date of requested training;
    (2) A list of catch monitor candidates that includes each 
candidate's full name (i.e., first, middle and last names), date of 
birth, and gender;
    (3) A copy of each candidate's academic transcripts and resume;
    (4) A statement signed by the candidate under penalty of perjury 
which discloses the candidate's criminal convictions;
    (B) Briefing registration materials consist of the following:
    (1) Date and type of requested briefing session;
    (2) List of catch monitors to attend the briefing session, that 
includes each catch monitor's full name (first, middle, and last 
names);
    (C) The Catch Monitor Program will notify the catch monitor 
provider which catch monitors require debriefing and the specific time 
period the catch monitor provider has to schedule a date, time, and 
location for debriefing. The catch monitor provider must contact the 
Catch Monitor Program within 5 business days by telephone to schedule 
debriefings.
    (1) Catch monitor providers must immediately notify the Catch 
Monitor Program when catch monitors end their contract earlier than 
anticipated.
    (2) [Reserved]
    (ii) Catch monitor provider contracts. If requested, catch monitor 
providers must submit to the Catch Monitor Program a completed and 
unaltered copy of each type of signed and valid contract (including all 
attachments, appendices, addendums, and exhibits incorporated into the 
contract) between the catch monitor provider and those entities 
requiring catch monitor services under Sec.  660.140(i)(1). Catch 
monitor

[[Page 9600]]

providers must also submit to the Catch Monitor Program upon request, a 
completed and unaltered copy of the current or most recent signed and 
valid contract (including all attachments, appendices, addendums, and 
exhibits incorporated into the contract and any agreements or policies 
with regard to catch monitor compensation or salary levels) between the 
catch monitor provider and the particular entity identified by the 
Catch Monitor Program or with specific catch monitors. The copies must 
be submitted to the Catch Monitor Program via email, fax, or mail 
within 5 business days of the request. Signed and valid contracts 
include the contracts a catch monitor provider has with:
    (A) First receivers required to have catch monitor coverage as 
specified at paragraph Sec.  660.140(i)(1); and
    (B) Catch monitors.
    (iii) Change in catch monitor provider management and contact 
information. A catch monitor provider must submit to the Catch Monitor 
Program any change of management or contact information as required at 
Sec.  660.18(h).
    (iv) Catch monitor status report. Each Tuesday, catch monitor 
providers must provide the Catch Monitor Program with an updated list 
of deployments per Catch Monitor Program protocol. Deployment 
information includes provider name, catch monitor last name, catch 
monitor first name, trip start date, trip end date, status of catch 
monitor, vessel name and vessel identification number, date monitored 
offload, and first receiver assignment.
    (v) Informational materials. Catch monitor providers must submit to 
NMFS, if requested, copies of any information developed and used by the 
catch monitor providers and distributed to first receivers, including, 
but not limited to, informational pamphlets, payment notification, and 
description of catch monitor duties.
    (vi) Other reports. Reports of the following must be submitted in 
writing to the Catch Monitor Program by the catch monitor provider via 
fax or email address designated by the Catch Monitor Program within 24 
hours after the catch monitor provider becomes aware of the 
information:
    (A) Any information regarding possible catch monitor harassment;
    (B) Any information regarding any action prohibited under Sec.  
660.12(f);
    (C) Any catch monitor illness or injury that prevents the catch 
monitor from completing any of his or her duties described in the catch 
monitor manual; and
    (D) Any information, allegations or reports regarding catch monitor 
conflict of interest or breach of the standards of behavior described 
in catch monitor provider policy.
    (12) Replace lost or damaged gear. Lost or damaged gear issued to a 
catch monitor by NMFS must be replaced by the catch monitor provider. 
All replacements must be provided to NMFS and be in accordance with 
requirements and procedures identified in writing by the Catch Monitor 
Program.
    (13) Confidentiality of information. A catch monitor provider must 
ensure that all records on individual catch monitor performance 
received from NMFS under the routine use provision of the Privacy Act 
(5 U.S.C. 552a) or as otherwise required by law remain confidential and 
are not further released to anyone outside the employ of the catch 
monitor provider company to whom the catch monitor was contracted 
except with written permission of the catch monitor.
    (g) Certification and decertification procedures for catch 
monitors. (1) Catch monitor certification official. The Regional 
Administrator (or a designee) will designate a NMFS catch monitor 
certification official who will make decisions on whether to issue or 
deny catch monitor certification.
    (2) Agency determinations on catch monitor certifications. (i) 
Issuance of certifications. Certification may be issued upon 
determination by the catch monitor certification official that the 
candidate has successfully met all requirements for certification as 
specified in Sec.  660.17(d).
    (ii) Denial of a certification. The catch monitor certification 
official will issue a written determination identifying the reasons for 
denial of a certification.
    (3) Limitations on conflict of interest for catch monitors. (i) 
Catch monitors must not have a direct financial interest, other than 
the provision of observer or catch monitor services, in a North Pacific 
fishery managed pursuant to an FMP for the waters off the coast of 
Alaska, Alaska state waters, or in a Pacific Coast fishery managed by 
either the state or Federal Governments in waters off Washington, 
Oregon, or California, including but not limited to:
    (A) Any ownership, mortgage holder, or other secured interest in a 
vessel, first receiver, shorebased or floating stationary processor 
facility involved in the catching, taking, harvesting or processing of 
fish;
    (B) Any business involved with selling supplies or services to any 
vessel, first receiver, shorebased or floating stationary processing 
facility; or
    (C) Any business involved with purchasing raw or processed products 
from any vessel, first receiver, shorebased or floating stationary 
processing facilities.
    (ii) Must not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any 
gratuity, gift, favor, entertainment, loan, or anything of monetary 
value from anyone who either conducts activities that are regulated by 
NMFS or has interests that may be substantially affected by the 
performance or nonperformance of the catch monitor's official duties.
    (iii) May not serve as a catch monitor at any shoreside or floating 
stationary processing facility owned or operated where a person was 
previously employed in the last two years.
    (iv) May not solicit or accept employment as a crew member or an 
employee of a vessel, or shoreside processor while employed by a catch 
monitor provider.
    (v) Provisions for remuneration of catch monitors under this 
section do not constitute a conflict of interest.
    (4) Catch monitor decertification. (i) Catch monitor 
decertification review official. The Regional Administrator (or a 
designee) will designate a catch monitor decertification review 
official(s), who will have the authority to review certifications and 
issue IADs of decertification.
    (ii) Causes for decertification. The catch monitor decertification 
official may initiate decertification proceedings when it is alleged 
that any of the following acts or omissions have been committed:
    (A) Failed to satisfactorily perform the specified duties and 
responsibilities;
    (B) Failed to abide by the specified standards of conduct;
    (C) Upon conviction of a crime or upon entry of a civil judgment 
for:
    (1) Commission of fraud or other violation in connection with 
obtaining or attempting to obtain certification, or in performing the 
duties and responsibilities specified in this section;
    (2) Commission of embezzlement, theft, forgery, bribery, 
falsification or destruction of records, making false statements, or 
receiving stolen property;
    (3) Commission of any other offense indicating a lack of integrity 
or honesty that seriously and directly affects the fitness of catch 
monitors.
    (iii) Issuance of IAD. Upon determination that decertification is 
warranted, the catch monitor decertification official will issue a 
written IAD. The IAD will identify the specific reasons for the action 
taken. Decertification is effective 30 calendar days after the date on 
the IAD, unless there is an appeal.
    (iv) Appeals. A certified catch monitor who receives an IAD that 
suspends or revokes his or her catch

[[Page 9601]]

monitor certification may appeal the determination within 30 calendar 
days after the date on the IAD to the Office of Administrative Appeals 
pursuant to Sec.  660.19.
    6. Revise Sec.  660.18 to read as follows.


Sec.  660.18  Observer and catch monitor provider permits and 
endorsements.

    (a) Provider permits. Persons seeking to provide observer or catch 
monitor services must obtain a provider permit from NMFS before 
providing certified catch monitors or certified observers for the 
Shorebased IFQ Program, the MS Coop Program, the C/P Coop Program, or 
for processing vessels in the fixed gear or open access fisheries. 
There are two types of endorsements for provider permits, an observer 
endorsement and a catch monitor endorsement. Provider permits must have 
at least one endorsement and it must be appropriate for the services 
being provided. Provider permits are obtained through an application 
process and must be renewed annually to remain valid in the following 
year. A provider permit expires if it is not renewed or when services 
have not been provided for 12 consecutive months.
    (b) Application process to become an observer or catch monitor 
provider. (1) New provider applications. An applicant seeking a 
provider permit may submit an application at any time during the 
calendar year. Any provider permit issued during a given year will 
expire on December 31. Applications must be submitted by fax or mail to 
the West Coast Region Fisheries Permits Office 7600 Sand Point Way NE 
Seattle, WA, 98115. Only complete applications will be considered for 
approval by the review board.
    (2) Contents of provider application. A complete application for a 
provider permit shall contain the following:
    (i) A statement indicating which endorsement the applicant is 
seeking: observer provider, catch monitor provider or both 
endorsements. A single application may be used to apply for both 
endorsements.
    (ii) Description of the management, organizational structure, and 
ownership structure of the applicant's business, including 
identification by name and general function of all controlling 
management interests in the company, including but not limited to 
owners, board members, officers, authorized agents, and other 
employees. List all office locations and their business mailing 
address, business phone and fax number, email addresses. If the 
applicant is a corporation, the articles of incorporation must be 
provided. If the applicant is a partnership, the partnership agreement 
must be provided.
    (iii) Provider contact information. (A) Name of applicant 
organization. If the applicant organization is United States business 
entity, include the state registration number.
    (B) The primary business mailing address, phone and fax numbers 
where the owner(s) can be contacted for official correspondence.
    (iv) A narrative statement describing relevant direct or indirect 
prior experience or qualifications the applicant may have that would 
enable them to be a successful provider.
    (A) For applicants seeking an observer provider endorsement, the 
applicant should describe experience in placing individuals in remote 
field and/or marine work environments. This includes, but is not 
limited to, recruiting, hiring, deployment, and personnel 
administration.
    (B) For applicants seeking a catch monitor provider endorsement, a 
narrative statement should identify prior relevant experience in 
recruiting, hiring, deploying, and providing support for individuals in 
marine work environments in the groundfish fishery or other fisheries 
of similar scale.
    (v) A narrative description of the applicant's ability to carry out 
the required responsibilities and duties as described at Sec. Sec.  
660.140(h), 660.150(j), and 660.160(g) for observer providers and/or 
Sec.  660.17(f) for catch monitor providers.
    (vi) A statement signed under penalty of perjury from each owner, 
or owners, board members, and officers if a corporation, that they have 
no conflict of interest as described in Sec.  660.18(c)(3).
    (vii) A statement signed under penalty of perjury from each owner, 
or owners, board members, and officers if a corporation, describing any 
criminal convictions, Federal contracts they have had and the 
performance rating they received on the contract, and previous 
decertification action while working as an observer, observer provider, 
or catch monitor provider.
    (viii) NMFS may request additional information or clarification 
from the applicants.
    (c) Application evaluation. Complete applications will be forwarded 
to Observer program and or the Catch Monitor Program for review and 
evaluation.
    (1) A provider permit application review board will be established 
and be comprised of at least three members. The review board will 
evaluate applications submitted under paragraph (a) of this section. If 
the applicant is a corporation, the review board also will evaluate the 
application criteria for each owner, or owners, board members, and 
officers.
    (2) The provider permit application will, at a minimum, be 
evaluated on the following criteria:
    (i) The applicant's ability to carry out the responsibilities and 
relevant experience and qualifications.
    (ii) Satisfactory performance ratings on any Federal contracts held 
by the applicant.
    (iii) Absence of any conflict of interest as defined for providers.
    (iv) Absence of any relevant criminal convictions related to:
    (A) Embezzlement, theft, forgery, bribery, falsification or 
destruction of records, making false statements or receiving stolen 
property, or
    (B) The commission of any other crimes of dishonesty, as defined by 
state law or Federal law, that would seriously and directly affect the 
fitness of an applicant in providing observer services under this 
section;
    (v) Absence of any history of decertification as an observer 
provider;
    (3) Limitations on conflict of interest for providers. Providers 
must not have a direct financial interest, other than the provision of 
observer or catch monitor services, in a North Pacific fishery managed 
pursuant to an FMP for the waters off the coast of Alaska, Alaska state 
waters, or in a Pacific Coast fishery managed by either the state or 
Federal Governments in waters off Washington, Oregon, or California, 
including but not limited to:
    (i) Any ownership, mortgage holder, or other secured interest in a 
vessel, first receiver, shorebased or floating stationary processor 
facility involved in the catching, taking, harvesting or processing of 
fish;
    (ii) Any business involved with selling supplies or services to any 
vessel, first receiver, shorebased or floating stationary processing 
facility; or
    (iii) Any business involved with purchasing raw or processed 
products from any vessel, first receiver, shorebased or floating 
stationary processing facilities.
    (4) Existing providers. Businesses that provided observers and/or 
catch monitors in the 12 months prior to [EFFECTIVE DATE OF FINAL RULE] 
will be issued a provider permit without submission of an application. 
This permit will be effective through December 31, 2014.
    (i) Providers who deployed catch monitors in the Shorebased IFQ 
Program in the 12 months prior to [EFFECTIVE DATE OF FINAL RULE] will 
be issued a provider permit with a catch monitor provider endorsement

[[Page 9602]]

effective through December 31, 2014, except that a change in ownership 
of an existing catch monitor provider after January 1, 2014, requires a 
new permit application under this section.
    (ii) Providers who deployed certified observers in the Pacific 
Coast groundfish fishery in the 12 months prior to [EFFECTIVE DATE OF 
FINAL RULE] will be issued a provider permit with an observer provider 
endorsement effective through December 31, 2014, except that a change 
in ownership of an existing observer provider after January 1, 2014, 
requires a new permit application under this section.
    (iii) To receive a provider permit for 2015 and beyond, the 
existing providers must follow the provider permit renewal process set 
forth in this section.
    (d) Agency determination on an application. NMFS will send a 
written determination to the applicant. If an application is approved, 
NMFS will issue a provider permit with the approved endorsements. If an 
application is denied, the basis for denial will be explained in the 
written determination.
    (e) Effective dates. The provider permit will be valid from the 
effective date identified on the permit until the permit expiration 
date of December 31. The provider permit must be renewed prior to 
expiration to remain valid at the start of the following year.
    (f) Expiration of the provider permit. (1) Expiration due to 
inactivity. (i) A provider permit and endorsements will expire after a 
period of 12 continuous months during which no observers or catch 
monitors are deployed by the provider in the Pacific coast groundfish 
fishery.
    (ii) For permits that are endorsed for both observers and catch 
monitors, the observer provider endorsement will expire after a period 
of 12 continuous months during which no observers are deployed by the 
provider and the catch monitor provider endorsement will expire after a 
periods of 12 continuous months during which no catch monitors are 
deployed by the provider.
    (iii) The Regional Administrator will provide written notice to a 
provider if NMFS' deployment records indicate that observer or catch 
monitors have not been deployed as described in paragraph (f)(1)(i) and 
(ii) of this section. If, after the provider has had an opportunity to 
respond to the notice, NMFS concludes that expiration criteria have 
been met, it will issue an IAD finding that the permit expired. A 
provider that receives an IAD of permit expiration may appeal under 
Sec.  660.19. A provider that appeals an IAD will be issued an 
extension of the expiration date of the permit until after the final 
resolution of the appeal.
    (2) Expiration due to failure to renew. Provider permits must be 
renewed every calendar year. Failure to renew will result in expiration 
of the provider permit on December 31.
    (3) Obtaining a new permit or endorsement following an expiration 
or voided permit. A person holding an expired or void permit or 
endorsement may reapply for a new provider permit or endorsement at any 
time consistent with Sec.  660.18(b).
    (g) Provider permit renewal process. To remain in effect in the 
following year, provider permits must be renewed prior to the permit 
expiration date.
    (1) NMFS will mail a provider permit renewal form to existing 
permit holders on or about October 1 each year.
    (2) Providers who want to have their permits effective for January 
1 of the following calendar year must submit their complete renewal 
form to NMFS by November 30. For those permitted providers who do not 
submit a complete renewal form by November 30, NMFS may not be able to 
issue a new provider permit by January 1of the following calendar year, 
and will issue the new provider permit as soon as practicable. If a 
provider fails to renew the provider permit, the provider permit will 
expire on December 31.
    (3) Permitted providers as required under Sec. Sec.  660.140, 
660.150, and 660.160 for the trawl fisheries will be required to 
provide the following information relative to the 12 months prior to 
submission of a renewal: for catch monitor endorsed providers, the 
total number of individual catch monitors that attended training, 
attended briefings, and deployed to a first reviewer; and for observer 
endorsed providers, the total number of individual observers that 
attended training, attended briefings, and deployed to a vessel. The 
renewed permit will not be approved until NMFS has received all of the 
information described in paragraph (g) of this section.
    (h) Transferability. Neither a provider permit nor the endorsements 
are transferable.
    (1) Change in ownership or provider contact information. (i) Within 
15 days of a change in the management, organizational structure, and 
ownership structure involving a person being added to the ownership-
providers must notify NMFS SFD Permits Office and provide the 
identification by name and general function of all controlling of the 
applicant's business, including identification by name and general 
function of all controlling management interests in the company, 
including but not limited to owners, board members, officers, 
authorized agents, and other employees. If the provider is a 
corporation, the articles of incorporation must be provided. If the 
provider is a partnership, the partnership agreement must be provided.
    (ii) Within 30 days of a change in provider contact information the 
provider must notify NMFS SFD Permits Office and provide the new 
contact information.
    (i) Provider permit sanctions. Procedures governing sanctions of 
permits are found at subpart D of 15 CFR part 904.
    (j) Permit fees. The Regional Administrator may charge fees to 
cover administrative expenses related to issuance of permits including 
initial issuance, renewal replacement, and appeals.
0
7. Add Sec.  660.19 to read as follows:


Sec.  660.19  Appeals process for catch monitors, observers, and 
provider permits.

    (a) Allowed appeals. This section describes the procedure for 
appealing IADs described at Sec. Sec.  660.17(g), 660.18(f), 
660.140(h), 660.150(j), and 660.160(g) for catch monitor 
decertification, observer decertification and provider permit 
expirations due to inactivity. Any person whose interest is directly 
and adversely affected by an IAD may file a written appeal. For 
purposes of this section, such person will be referred to as the 
``applicant.''
    (b) Appeals process. In cases where the applicant disagrees with 
the IAD, the applicant may appeal that decision. Final decisions on 
appeals of IADs will be made in writing by the Regional Administrator 
or designee acting on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce and will 
state the reasons therefore.
    (1) Submission of appeals. (i) The appeal must be in writing and 
comply with paragraph (b) of this section.
    (ii) Appeals must be mailed or faxed to: National Marine Fisheries 
Service, West Coast Region, Sustainable Fisheries Division, ATTN: 
Appeals, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA, 98115; Fax: 206-526-
6426; or delivered to National Marine Fisheries Service at the same 
address.
    (2) Timing of appeals. The appeal must be filed within 30 calendar 
days after the determination is issued. The IAD becomes the final 
decision of the Regional Administrator or designee acting on behalf of 
the Secretary of Commerce if no appeal is filed within 30 calendar 
days. The time period to submit an appeal begins with the date on the 
IAD. If the last day of the time period is a Saturday, Sunday, or 
Federal

[[Page 9603]]

holiday, the time period will extend to the close of business on the 
next business day.
    (3) Address of record. The address used by the applicant in initial 
correspondence to NMFS concerning the application will be the address 
used by NMFS for the appeal. Notifications and correspondence 
associated with all actions affecting the applicant will be mailed to 
the address of record unless the applicant provides NMFS, in writing, 
an address change. NMFS bears no responsibility if NMFS sends a 
notification or correspondence to the address of record and it is not 
received because the applicant's actual address has changed without 
notification to NMFS.
    (4) Statement of reasons for appeals. Applicants must submit a full 
written statement in support of the appeal, including a concise 
statement of the reasons the IAD determination has a direct and adverse 
effect on the applicant and should be reversed or modified. The 
appellate officer will limit his/her review to the issues stated in the 
appeal; all issues not set out in the appeal will be waived.
    (5) Decisions on appeals. The Regional Administrator or designee 
will issue a final written decision on the appeal which is the final 
decision of the Secretary of Commerce.
0
8. In Sec.  660.60, revise paragraph (c)(1)(iv) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.60  Specifications and management measures.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iv) List of IFQ species documented on Observer Program reporting 
form. As specified at Sec.  660.140(h)(1)(i), to be exempt from 
observer coverage while docked in port depends on documentation of 
specified retained IFQ species on the Observer Program reporting form. 
The list of IFQ species documented on the Observer Program form may be 
modified on a biennial or more frequent basis under routine management 
measures at Sec.  660.60(c)(1).
* * * * *
0
9. In Sec.  660.112,
0
a. Add paragraph (a)(3)(iv);
0
b. Revise paragraph (a)(4);
0
c. Remove paragraph (b)(1)(xiii);
0
d. Redesignate paragraphs (b)(1)(xiv), (b)(1)(xv), (b)(1)(xvi), and 
(b)(1)(xvii) as (b)(1)(xiii), (b)(1)(xiv), (b)(1)(xv), and (b)(1)(xvi), 
respectively, and revise newly redesignated paragraphs (b)(1)(xiii) and 
(b)(1)(xiv); and
0
e. Revise paragraphs (d)(12), (d)(14), and (d)(15) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.112  Trawl fishery--prohibitions.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (iv) Fail to submit cease fishing reports specified at Sec. Sec.  
660.113(c), 660.150(c), 660.160(c).
* * * * *
    (4) Observers. * * * *
    (i) Fish in the Shorebased IFQ Program, the MS Coop Program, or the 
C/P Coop Program without observer coverage.
    (ii) Fish in the Shorebased IFQ Program, the MS Coop Program, or 
the C/P Coop Program if the vessel is inadequate or unsafe for observer 
deployment as described at Sec.  660.12(e).
    (iii) Fail to maintain observer coverage in port as specified at 
Sec.  660.140(h)(1)(i).
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (xiii) Discard or attempt to discard IFQ species/species group at 
sea unless the observer has documented or estimated the discards.
    (xiv) Begin a new fishing trip until all fish from an IFQ landing 
have been offloaded from the vessel, consistent with Sec.  
660.12(a)(11).
* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (12) Sort or discard any portion of the catch taken by a catcher 
vessel in the MS Coop Program before the catcher vessel observer 
completes sampling of the catch, except for minor operational amounts 
of catch lost by a catcher vessel provided the observer has accounted 
for the discard (i.e., a maximized retention fishery).
* * * * *
    (14) Take deliveries without a valid scale inspection report signed 
by an authorized scale inspector on board the MS vessel.
    (15) Sort, process, or discard catch delivered to MS vessels before 
the catch is weighed on a scale that meets the requirements of Sec.  
660.15(b), including the daily test requirements.
* * * * *
0
10. In Sec.  660.140,
0
a. Revise paragraphs (b)(2)(iv), (b)(2)(vi), (b)(2)(viii);
0
b. Revise paragraphs (h)(1), (h)(2)(i)(B), (h)(2)(ii)(B), (h)(3) 
through (4), (h)(5)(ii)(B)(1) and (3), (h)(5)(iii)(D), (h)(5)(iv)(A) 
and (B), (h)(5)(v), (h)(5)(vii)(A)(2) through (5), (h)(5)(ix), 
(h)(5)(xi) through (xv), (h)(6)(i), (h)(6)(iii)(A), and (h)(6)(v) 
through (ix);
0
c. Add paragraph (h)(2)(xi); and
0
d. Revise paragraphs (i)(2), (i)(3)(ii), (j)(2)(ii) through (iv), 
(j)(3)(i), and (j)(4) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.140  Shorebased IFQ Program.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (iv) Provide unrestricted access to all areas where fish are or may 
be sorted or weighed to catch monitors, NMFS staff, NMFS-authorized 
personnel, or authorized officers at any time when a delivery of IFQ 
species, or the processing of those species, is taking place.
* * * * *
    (vi) Retain and make available to catch monitors, NMFS staff, NMFS-
authorized personnel, or authorized officers, all printed output from 
any scale used to weigh catch, and any hand tally sheets, worksheets, 
or notes used to determine the total weight of any species.
* * * * *
    (viii) Ensure that sorting and weighing is completed prior to catch 
leaving the area that can be monitored from the observation area 
described in paragraph (i) of this section.
* * * * *
    (h) * * * (1) Observer coverage requirements. (i) Coverage. The 
following observer coverage pertains to certified observers obtained 
from an observer provider permitted by NMFS.
    (A) Any vessel participating in the Shorebased IFQ Program:
    (1) Must carry a certified observer on any fishing trip from the 
time the vessel leaves port and until the completion of landing (until 
all catch from that fishing trip has been offloaded--see landing at 
Sec. Sec.  660.11 and 660.60(h)(2)).
    (2) Must carry an observer at any time the vessel is underway in 
port, including transit between delivery points when fish is offloaded 
at more than one IFQ first receiver.
    (3) Is exempt from the requirement to maintain observer coverage as 
specified in paragraph (h) of this section while remaining docked in 
port when the observer makes available to the catch monitor an Observer 
Program reporting form documenting the weight and number of bocaccio, 
yelloweye rockfish, canary rockfish, and cowcod retained during that 
trip and which documents any discrepancy the vessel operator and 
observer may have in the weights and number of the overfished species, 
unless modified inseason under routine management measures at Sec.  
660.60(c)(1).
    (B) Any vessel 125 ft (38.1 m) LOA or longer that is engaged in at-
sea processing must carry two certified observers, and any vessel 
shorter than 125 ft (38.1 m) LOA that is engaged in at-sea processing 
must carry one certified observer, each day that the

[[Page 9604]]

vessel is used to take, retain, receive, land, process, or transport 
groundfish.
    (ii) Observer deployment limitations and workload. An observer must 
not be deployed for more than 22 calendar days in a calendar month. The 
Observer Program may issue waivers to allow observers to work more than 
22 calendar days per month when it's anticipated one trip will last 
over 20 days or for issues with observer availability due to illness or 
injury of other observers. If an observer is unable to perform their 
duties for any reason, the vessel is required to be in port within 36 
hours of the last haul sampled by the observer.
    (iii) Refusal to board. Any boarding refusal on the part of the 
observer or vessel must be immediately reported to the Observer Program 
and OLE by the observer provider. The observer must be available for an 
interview with the Observer Program or OLE if necessary.
    (2) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (B) Accommodations and food for trips of 24 hours or more must be 
equivalent to those provided for the crew and must include berthing 
space, a space that is intended to be used for sleeping and is provided 
with installed bunks and mattresses. A mattress or futon on the floor 
or a cot is not acceptable if a regular bunk is provided to any crew 
member, unless other arrangements are approved in advance by the 
Regional Administrator or designee.
    (ii) * * *
    (B) Have on board a valid Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Decal 
that certifies compliance with regulations found in 33 CFR chapter I 
and 46 CFR chapter I, a certificate of compliance issued pursuant to 46 
CFR 28.710 or a valid certificate of inspection pursuant to 46 U.S.C. 
3311. Maintain safe conditions on the vessel for the protection of 
observer(s) including adherence to all USCG and other applicable rules, 
regulations, or statutes pertaining to safe operation of the vessel, 
and provisions at Sec. Sec.  600.725 and 600.746 of this chapter.
* * * * *
    (xi) Housing on vessel in port. During all periods an observer is 
housed on a vessel, the vessel operator must ensure that at least one 
crew member is aboard.
    (3) Procurement of observer services. Owners of vessels required to 
carry observers under paragraph (h)(1) of this section must arrange for 
observer services from an observer provider, except that:
    (i) Vessels are required to procure observer services directly from 
the Observer Program when NMFS has determined and given notification 
that the vessel must carry NMFS staff or an individual authorized by 
NMFS in lieu of an observer provided by an observer provider.
    (ii) Vessels are required to procure observer services directly 
from the Observer Program and an observer provider when NMFS has 
determined and given notification that the vessel must carry NMFS staff 
and/or individuals authorized by NMFS, in addition to an observer 
provided by an observer provider.
    (4) Application to become an observer provider. See Sec.  660.18.
* * * * *
    (5) * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (B) * * *
    (1) That the observer will return all phone calls, emails, text 
messages, or other forms of communication within the time specified by 
the Observer Program;
* * * * *
    (3) That every observer completes a basic cardiopulmonary 
resuscitation/first aid course prior to the end of the West Coast 
Groundfish Observer Training class.
    (iii) * * *
    (D) Immediately report to the Observer Program Office and the OLE 
any refusal to board an assigned vessel.
    (iv) * * * (A) Must have a valid West Coast Groundfish observer 
certification with the required endorsements;
    (B) Must not have informed the observer provider prior to the time 
of embarkation that he or she is experiencing a mental illness or a 
physical ailment or injury developed since submission of the 
physician's statement, as required in paragraph (h)(5)(xi)(B) of this 
section that would prevent him or her from performing his or her 
assigned duties; and
* * * * *
    (v) Respond to industry requests for observers. An observer 
provider must provide an observer for deployment pursuant to the terms 
of the contractual relationship with the vessel to fulfill vessel 
requirements for observer coverage under paragraphs (h)(5)(xi)(D) of 
this section. An alternate observer must be supplied in each case where 
injury or illness prevents an observer from performing his or her 
duties or where an observer resigns prior to completion of his or her 
duties. If the observer provider is unable to respond to an industry 
request for observer coverage from a vessel for whom the observer 
provider is in a contractual relationship due to the lack of available 
observers by the estimated embarking time of the vessel, the observer 
provider must report it to NMFS at least 4 hours prior to the vessel's 
estimated embarking time.
* * * * *
    (vii) * * *
    (A) * * *
    (2) Has a check-in system in which the observer is required to 
contact the observer provider each time they depart and return to port 
on a vessels.
    (3) Remains available to OLE and the Observer Program until the 
conclusion of debriefing.
    (4) Receives all necessary transportation, including arrangements 
and logistics to the initial location of deployment, to all subsequent 
vessel assignments during that deployment, and to and from the location 
designated for an observer to be interviewed by the Observer Program; 
and
    (5) Receives lodging, per diem, and any other services necessary to 
observers assigned to fishing vessels.
    (i) An observer under contract may be housed on a vessel to which 
he or she is assigned: Prior to their vessel's initial departure from 
port; for a period not to exceed 24 hours following the completion of 
an offload when the observer has duties and is scheduled to disembark; 
or for a period not to exceed 24 hours following the vessel's arrival 
in port when the observer is scheduled to disembark.
    (ii) Otherwise, each observer between vessels, while still under 
contract with an observer provider, shall be provided with 
accommodations in accordance with the contract between the observer and 
the observer provider. If the observer provider is responsible for 
providing accommodations under the contract with the observer, the 
accommodation must be at a licensed hotel, motel, bed and breakfast, or 
other shoreside accommodations that has an assigned bed for each 
observer that no other person may be assigned to for the duration of 
that observer's stay. Additionally, no more than four beds may be in 
any room housing observers at accommodations meeting the requirements 
of this section.
* * * * *
    (ix) Verify vessel's Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Decal. An 
observer provider must ensure that the observer completes a current 
observer vessel safety checklist, and verify that a vessel has a valid 
USCG Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Decal as required under paragraph 
(h)(2)(ii)(B) of this section prior to the observer embarking on the 
first trip and before an observer may get underway aboard the vessel. 
The provider must submit all vessel

[[Page 9605]]

safety checklists to the Observer Program, as specified by Observer 
Program. One of the following acceptable means of verification must be 
used to verify the decal validity:
    (A) An employee of the observer provider, including the observer, 
visually inspects the decal aboard the vessel and confirms that the 
decal is valid according to the decal date of issuance; or
    (B) The observer provider receives a hard copy of the USCG 
documentation of the decal issuance from the vessel owner or operator.
* * * * *
    (xi) Maintain communications with the Observer Program Office. An 
observer provider must provide all of the following information by 
electronic transmission (email), fax, or other method specified by 
NMFS.
    (A) Observer training, briefing, and debriefing registration 
materials. This information must be submitted to the Observer Program 
Office at least 10 business days prior to the beginning of a scheduled 
West Coast groundfish observer certification training or briefing 
session.
    (1) Training registration materials consist of the following:
    (i) Date of requested training;
    (ii) A list of observer candidates that includes each candidate's 
full name (i.e., first, middle and last names), date of birth, and 
gender;
    (iii) A copy of each candidate's academic transcripts and resume;
    (iv) A statement signed by the candidate under penalty of perjury 
which discloses the candidate's criminal convictions;
    (v) Length of each observer's contract.
    (2) Briefing registration materials consist of the following:
    (i) Date and type of requested briefing session;
    (ii) List of observers to attend the briefing session, that 
includes each observer's full name (first, middle, and last names);
    (iii) Length of each observer's contract.
    (3) Debriefing. The Observer Program will notify the observer 
provider which observers require debriefing and the specific time 
period the observer provider has to schedule a date, time, and location 
for debriefing. The observer provider must contact the Observer Program 
within 5 business days by telephone to schedule debriefings.
    (i) Observer providers must immediately notify the observer program 
when observers end their contract earlier than anticipated.
    (ii) [Reserved]
    (B) Physical examination. A signed and dated statement from a 
licensed physician that he or she has physically examined an observer 
or observer candidate. The statement must confirm that, based on that 
physical examination, the observer or observer candidate does not have 
any health problems or conditions that would jeopardize that 
individual's safety or the safety of others while deployed, or prevent 
the observer or observer candidate from performing his or her duties 
satisfactorily. The statement must declare that, prior to the 
examination, the physician was made aware of the duties of the observer 
and the dangerous, remote, and rigorous nature of the work by reading 
the NMFS-prepared information. The physician's statement must be 
submitted to the Observer Program Office prior to certification of an 
observer. The physical exam must have occurred during the 12 months 
prior to the observer's or observer candidate's deployment.
    (C) Certificates of insurance. Copies of ``certificates of 
insurance,'' that name the Northwest Fisheries Science Center Observer 
Program manager as the ``certificate holder,'' shall be submitted to 
the Observer Program Office by February 1 of each year. The 
certificates of insurance shall verify the following coverage 
provisions and state that the insurance company will notify the 
certificate holder if insurance coverage is changed or canceled.
    (1) Maritime Liability to cover ``seamen's'' claims under the 
Merchant Marine Act (Jones Act) and General Maritime Law ($1 million 
minimum).
    (2) Coverage under the U.S. Longshore and Harbor Workers' 
Compensation Act ($1 million minimum).
    (3) States Worker's Compensation as required.
    (4) Commercial General Liability.
    (D) Observer provider contracts. If requested, observer providers 
must submit to the Observer Program Office a completed and unaltered 
copy of each type of signed and valid contract (including all 
attachments, appendices, addendums, and exhibits incorporated into the 
contract) between the observer provider and those entities requiring 
observer services under paragraph (h)(1)(i) of this section. Observer 
providers must also submit to the Observer Program Office, upon 
request, a completed and unaltered copy of the current or most recent 
signed and valid contract (including all attachments, appendices, 
addendums, and exhibits incorporated into the contract and any 
agreements or policies with regard to observer compensation or salary 
levels) between the observer provider and the particular entity 
identified by the Observer Program or with specific observers. The 
copies must be submitted to the Observer Program Office via email, fax, 
or mail within 5 business days of the request. Signed and valid 
contracts include the contracts an observer provider has with:
    (1) Vessels required to have observer coverage as specified at 
paragraph (h)(1)(i) of this section; and
    (2) Observers.
    (E) Change in observer provider management and contact information. 
An observer provider must submit to the Observer Program Office any 
change of management or contact information as required at Sec.  
660.18(h).
    (F) Biological samples. The observer provider must ensure that 
biological samples are stored/handled properly prior to delivery/
transport to NMFS.
    (G) Observer status report. Observer providers must provide NMFS 
with an updated list of observer trips per Observer Program protocol. 
Trip information includes observer provider name, observer last name, 
observer first name, trip start date, trip end date, status of 
observer, vessel name, and vessel identification number.
    (H) Other information. Observer providers must submit to NMFS, if 
requested, copies of any information developed and used by the observer 
providers distributed to vessels, such as informational pamphlets, 
payment notification, description of observer duties, etc.
    (I) Other reports. Reports of the following must be submitted in 
writing to the Observer Program Office by the observer provider via fax 
or email address designated by the Observer Program Office within 24 
hours after the observer provider becomes aware of the information:
    (1) Any information regarding possible observer harassment;
    (2) Any information regarding any action prohibited under Sec.  
660.12(e); Sec.  660.112(a)(4); or Sec.  600.725(o), (t) and (u) of 
this chapter;
    (3) Any concerns about vessel safety or marine casualty under 46 
CFR 4.05-1(a)(1) through (7);
    (4) Any observer illness or injury that prevents the observer from 
completing any of his or her duties described in the observer manual; 
and
    (5) Any information, allegations or reports regarding observer 
conflict of interest or breach of the standards of behavior described 
in observer provider policy.
    (xii) Replace lost or damaged gear. Lost or damaged gear issued to 
an

[[Page 9606]]

observer by NMFS must be replaced by the observer provider. All 
replacements must be provided to NMFS and be in accordance with 
requirements and procedures identified in writing by the Observer 
Program Office.
    (xiii) Maintain confidentiality of information. An observer 
provider must ensure that all records on individual observer 
performance received from NMFS under the routine use provision of the 
Privacy Act (U.S.C. 552a) or as otherwise required by law remain 
confidential and are not further released to anyone outside the employ 
of the observer provider company to whom the observer was contracted 
except with written permission of the observer.
    (xiv) Limitations on conflict of interest. Observer providers:
    (A) Must not have a direct financial interest, other than the 
provision of observer or catch monitor services, in a North Pacific 
fishery managed pursuant to an FMP for the waters off the coast of 
Alaska, Alaska state waters, or in a Pacific Coast fishery managed by 
either the state or Federal Governments in waters off Washington, 
Oregon, or California, including, but not limited to:
    (1) Any ownership, mortgage holder, or other secured interest in a 
vessel or shoreside processor facility involved in the catching, 
taking, harvesting or processing of fish;
    (2) Any business involved with selling supplies or services to any 
vessel or shoreside processors participating in a fishery managed 
pursuant to an FMP in the waters off the coasts of Alaska, California, 
Oregon, and Washington; or
    (3) Any business involved with purchasing raw or processed products 
from any vessel or shoreside processor participating in a fishery 
managed pursuant to an FMP in the waters off the coasts of Alaska, 
California, Oregon, and Washington.
    (B) Must assign observers without regard to any preference by 
representatives of vessels other than when an observer will be 
deployed.
    (C) Must not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any 
gratuity, gift, favor, entertainment, loan, or anything of monetary 
value except for compensation for providing observer services from 
anyone who conducts fishing or fish processing activities that are 
regulated by NMFS, or who has interests that may be substantially 
affected by the performance or non-performance of the official duties 
of observer providers.
    (xv) Observer conduct and behavior. An observer provider must 
develop and maintain a policy addressing observer conduct and behavior 
for their employees that serve as observers.
    (A) The policy shall address the following behavior and conduct 
regarding:
    (1) Observer use of alcohol;
    (2) Observer use, possession, or distribution of illegal drugs in 
violation of applicable law; and;
    (3) Sexual contact with personnel of the vessel or processing 
facility to which the observer is assigned, or with any vessel or 
processing plant personnel who may be substantially affected by the 
performance or non-performance of the observer's official duties.
    (B) An observer provider shall provide a copy of its conduct and 
behavior policy by February 1 of each year, to: observers, observer 
candidates and the Observer Program Office.
* * * * *
    (6) * * * (i) Applicability. Observer certification authorizes an 
individual to fulfill duties as specified in writing by the Observer 
Program Office while under the employ of an observer provider and 
according to certification requirements as designated under paragraph 
(h)(6)(iii) of this section.
* * * * *
    (iii) * * * (A) Initial certification. NMFS may certify individuals 
who, in addition to any other relevant considerations:
    (1) Are employed by an permitted observer provider at the time of 
the of the certification is issued;
    (2) Have provided, through their observer provider:
    (i) Information identified by NMFS at Sec.  679.52(b) of this 
chapter regarding an observer candidate's health and physical fitness 
for the job;
    (ii) Meet all observer candidate education and health standards as 
specified in Sec.  679.52(b) of this chapter; and
    (iii) Have successfully completed NMFS-approved training as 
prescribed by the Observer Program. Successful completion of training 
by an observer applicant consists of meeting all attendance and conduct 
standards issued in writing at the start of training; meeting all 
performance standards issued in writing at the start of training for 
assignments, tests, and other evaluation tools; and completing all 
other training requirements established by the Observer Program.
    (iv) Have not been decertified under paragraph (h)(6)(ix) of this 
section, or pursuant to Sec.  679.53(c) of this chapter.
* * * * *
    (v) Issuance of an observer certification. An observer 
certification may be issued upon determination by the observer 
certification official that the candidate has successfully met all 
requirements for certification as specified at paragraph (h)(6)(iii) of 
this section. The following endorsements as prescribed by the Observer 
Program must be obtained in addition to observer certification.
    (A) West Coast Groundfish Observer Program training endorsement. A 
training endorsement signifies the successful completion of the 
training course required to obtain observer certification. This 
endorsement expires when the observer has not been deployed and 
performed sampling duties as required by the Observer Program Office 
for a period of time, specified by the Observer Program, after his or 
her most recent debriefing. The Observer can renew the endorsement by 
successfully completing training once more.
    (B) West Coast Groundfish Observer Program annual general 
endorsement. Each observer must obtain an annual general endorsement to 
their certification prior to his or her first deployment within any 
calendar year subsequent to a year in which a training endorsement is 
obtained. To obtain an annual general endorsement, an observer must 
successfully complete the annual briefing, as specified by the Observer 
Program. All briefing attendance, performance, and conduct standards 
required by the Observer Program must be met.
    (C) West Coast Groundfish Observer Program deployment endorsement. 
Each observer who has completed an initial deployment, as defined by 
the Observer Program, after receiving a training endorsement or annual 
general endorsement, must complete all applicable debriefing 
requirements specified by the Observer Program. A deployment 
endorsement is issued to observers who meet the performance standards 
specified by the Observer Program. A deployment endorsement must be 
obtained prior to any subsequent deployments for the remainder of that 
calendar year. If a deployment endorsement is not issued, certification 
training must be repeated.
    (vi) Maintaining the validity of an observer certification. After 
initial issuance, an observer must keep their certification valid by 
meeting all of the following requirements specified below:
    (A) Successfully perform their assigned duties as described in the 
observer manual or other written instructions from the Observer 
Program.
    (B) Accurately record their sampling data, write complete reports, 
and report accurately any observations of suspected violations of 
regulations relevant to conservation of marine resources or their 
environment.

[[Page 9607]]

    (C) Not disclose collected data and observations made on board the 
vessel or in the processing facility to any person except the owner or 
operator of the observed vessel or an authorized officer or NMFS.
    (D) Successfully complete any required trainings or briefings as 
prescribed by the Observer Program.
    (E) Successful completion of briefing by an observer applicant 
consists of meeting all attendance and conduct standards issued in 
writing at the start of training; meeting all performance standards 
issued in writing at the start of briefing for assignments, tests, and 
other evaluation tools; and completing all other briefing requirements 
established by the Observer Program.
    (F) Hold current basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation/first aid 
certification as per American Red Cross Standards.
    (G) Successfully meet Observer Program performance standards 
reporting for assigned debriefings or interviews.
    (H) Submit all data and information required by the Observer 
Program within the program's stated guidelines.
    (I) Meet the minimum annual deployment period of 3 months at least 
once every 12 months.
    (vii) Limitations on conflict of interest. Observers:
    (A) Must not have a direct financial interest, other than the 
provision of observer services or catch monitor services, in a North 
Pacific fishery managed pursuant to an FMP for the waters off the coast 
of Alaska, Alaska state waters, or in a Pacific Coast fishery managed 
by either the state or Federal Governments in waters off Washington, 
Oregon, or California, including but not limited to:
    (1) Any ownership, mortgage holder, or other secured interest in a 
vessel, shore-based or floating stationary processor facility involved 
in the catching, taking, harvesting or processing of fish;
    (2) Any business involved with selling supplies or services to any 
vessel, shore-based or floating stationary processing facility; or
    (3) Any business involved with purchasing raw or processed products 
from any vessel, shore-based or floating stationary processing 
facilities.
    (B) Must not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any 
gratuity, gift, favor, entertainment, loan, or anything of monetary 
value from anyone who either conducts activities that are regulated by 
NMFS in the Pacific coast or North Pacific regions or has interests 
that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance 
of the observers' official duties.
    (C) May not serve as observers on any vessel or at any shore-based 
or floating stationary processor owned or operated by a person who 
employed the observer in the last two years.
    (D) May not solicit or accept employment as a crew member or an 
employee of a vessel or shore-based or floating stationary processor 
while employed by an observer provider.
    (E) Provisions for remuneration of observers under this section do 
not constitute a conflict of interest.
    (viii) Standards of behavior. Observers must:
    (A) Perform their duties as described in the observer manual or 
other written instructions from the Observer Program Office.
    (B) Accurately record their sampling data, write complete reports, 
and report accurately any observations of suspected violations of 
regulations relevant to the conservation of marine resources of their 
environment.
    (C) Not disclose collected data and observations made on board the 
vessel to any person except the owner or operator of the observed 
vessel, an authorized officer, or NMFS.
    (ix) Suspension and decertification. (A) Suspension and 
decertification review official. The Regional Administrator (or a 
designee) will designate an observer suspension and decertification 
review official(s), who will have the authority to review observer 
certifications and issue IAD of observer certification suspension and/
or decertification.
    (B) Causes for suspension or decertification. In addition to any 
other supported basis connected to an observer's job performance, the 
suspension and decertification official may initiate suspension or 
decertification proceedings against an observer:
    (1) When it is alleged that the observer has not met applicable 
standards, including any of the following:
    (i) Failed to satisfactorily perform duties as described or 
directed by the Observer Program; or
    (ii) Failed to abide by the standards of conduct for observers, 
including conflicts of interest;
    (2) Upon conviction of a crime or upon entry of a civil judgment 
for:
    (i) Commission of fraud or other violation in connection with 
obtaining or attempting to obtain certification, or in performing the 
duties as specified in writing by the NMFS Observer Program;
    (ii) Commission of embezzlement, theft, forgery, bribery, 
falsification or destruction of records, making false statements, or 
receiving stolen property;
    (iii) Commission of any other offense indicating a lack of 
integrity or honesty that seriously and directly affects the fitness of 
observers.
    (C) Issuance of an IAD. Upon determination that suspension or 
decertification is warranted, the suspension/decertification official 
will issue a written IAD to the observer via certified mail at the 
observer's most current address provided to NMFS. The IAD will identify 
whether a certification is suspended or revoked and will identify the 
specific reasons for the action taken. Decertification is effective 30 
calendar days after the date on the IAD, unless there is an appeal.
    (D) Appeals. A certified observer who receives an IAD that suspends 
or revokes his or her observer certification may appeal the 
determination within 30 calendar days after the date on the IAD to the 
Office of Administrative Appeals pursuant to Sec.  660.19.
    (i) * * *
    (2) Procurement of catch monitor services. Owners or managers of 
each IFQ first receiver must arrange for catch monitor services from a 
catch monitor provider prior to accepting IFQ landings.
* * * * *
    (3) * * *
    (ii) The working hours of each individual catch monitor will be 
limited as follows: the time required for a catch monitor to conduct 
monitoring duties must not exceed 14 consecutive hours in any 24-hour 
period with a maximum of 12 hours being work other than the summary and 
submission of catch monitor data. In the same 24-hour period a catch 
monitor must have a break that is a minimum of 8 consecutive hours.
* * * * *
    (j) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ii) Printed record. All scales identified in the catch monitoring 
plan accepted by NMFS during the first receiver site license 
application process, must produce a printed record as specified at 
Sec.  660.15(c).
    (iii) Scales that may be exempt from printed report. An IFQ first 
receiver that receives no more than 200,000 pounds of groundfish in any 
calendar month will be exempt from the requirement to produce a printed 
record provided that:
    (A) The first receiver has not previously operated under a catch 
monitoring plan where a printed record was required;
    (B) The first receiver ensures that all catch is weighed; and

[[Page 9608]]

    (C) The catch monitor, NMFS staff, or authorized officer can verify 
that all catch is weighed.
    (iv) Retention of printed records. An IFQ first receiver must 
maintain printouts on site until the end of the fishing year during 
which the printouts were made consistent with Sec.  660.113(a)(2).
* * * * *
    (3) * * *
    (i) General. Ensure that all IFQ landings are sorted and weighed as 
specified at Sec.  660.130(d) and in accordance with an approved catch 
monitoring plan.
* * * * *
    (4) Scale tests. All testing must meet the scale test standards 
specified at Sec.  660.15(c).
* * * * *
0
11. In Sec.  660.150,
0
a. Revise paragraphs (b)(1)(ii), (j)(1)(i), (j)(1)(ii)(A), (j)(1)(iii), 
(j)(2)(i)(A), (j)(2)(i)(B)(2), (j)(2)(ii) introductory text, 
(j)(2)(ii)(B), (j)(2)(iii), (j)(2)(ix)(A) introductory text, (j)(2)(x) 
introductory text, (j)(3), (j)(4), and (j)(5);
0
b. Add paragraph (j)(2)(xi) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.150  Mothership (MS) Coop Program.

* * * * *
    (b) * * * (1) * * *
    (ii) MS vessel responsibilities. The owner and operator of a MS 
vessel must:
    (A) Recordkeeping and reporting. Maintain a valid declaration as 
specified at Sec.  660.13(d); and, maintain and submit all records and 
reports specified at Sec.  660.113(c) including, economic data, scale 
tests records, cease fishing reports, and cost recovery.
    (B) Observers. As specified at paragraph (j) of this section, 
procure observer services, maintain the appropriate level of coverage, 
and meet the vessel responsibilities.
    (C) Catch weighing requirements. The owner and operator of a MS 
vessel must: Ensure that all catch is weighed in its round form on a 
NMFS-approved scale that meets the requirements described in section 
Sec.  660.15(b);
* * * * *
    (j) * * * (1) * * * (i) Coverage. The following observer coverage 
pertains to certified observers obtained from an observer provider 
permitted by NMFS.
    (A) MS vessels. Any vessel registered to an MS permit 125 ft (38.1 
m) LOA or longer must carry two certified observers, and any vessel 
registered to an MS permit shorter than 125 ft (38.1 m) LOA must carry 
one certified observer, each day that the vessel is used to take, 
retain, receive, land, process, or transport groundfish.
    (B) Catcher vessels. Any vessel delivering catch to any MS vessel 
must carry one certified observer each day that the vessel is used to 
take groundfish.
    (ii) * * * (A) MS vessels. The time required for the observer to 
complete sampling duties must not exceed 12 consecutive hours in each 
24-hour period.
* * * * *
    (iii) Refusal to board. Any boarding refusal on the part of the 
observer or vessel must be reported to the Observer Program and OLE by 
the observer provider. The observer must be available for an interview 
with the Observer Program or OLE if necessary.
* * * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) * * * (A) MS vessels. Provide accommodations and food that are 
equivalent to those provided for officers, engineers, foremen, deck-
bosses or other management level personnel of the vessel.
    (B) * * *
    (2) Accommodations and food for trips of 24 hours or more must be 
equivalent to those provided for the crew and must include berthing 
space, a space that is intended to be used for sleeping and is provided 
with installed bunks and mattresses. A mattress or futon on the floor 
or a cot is not acceptable if a regular bunk is provided to any crew 
member, unless other arrangements are approved in advance by the 
Regional Administrator or designee.
* * * * *
    (ii) Safe conditions. MS vessels and catcher vessels must:
* * * * *
    (B) Have on board a valid Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Decal 
that certifies compliance with regulations found in 33 CFR chapter I 
and 46 CFR chapter I, a certificate of compliance issued pursuant to 46 
CFR 28.710 or a valid certificate of inspection pursuant to 46 U.S.C. 
3311. Maintain safe conditions on the vessel for the protection of 
observer(s) including adherence to all USCG and other applicable rules, 
regulations, or statutes pertaining to safe operation of the vessel, 
and provisions at Sec. Sec.  600.725 and 600.746 of this chapter.
    (iii) Computer hardware and software. MS vessels must:
    (A) Provide hardware and software pursuant to regulations at 
Sec. Sec.  679.51(e)(iii)(B) of the chapter.
    (B) Provide the observer(s) access to a computer required under 
paragraph (j)(2)(iii)(A) of this section, and that is connected to a 
communication device that provides a point-to-point connection to the 
NMFS host computer.
    (C) Ensure that the MS vessel has installed the most recent release 
of NMFS data entry software or other approved software prior to the 
vessel receiving, catching or processing IFQ species.
    (D) Ensure that the communication equipment required in paragraph 
(j)(2)(iii) of this section and that is used by observers to enter and 
transmit data, is fully functional and operational. ``Functional'' 
means that all the tasks and components of the NMFS supplied, or other 
approved, software described at paragraph (j)(2)(iii) of this section 
and the data transmissions to NMFS can be executed effectively aboard 
the vessel by the communications equipment.
* * * * *
    (ix) * * * (A) MS vessels. To allow the observer to carry out 
required duties, the vessel owner must provide an observer sampling 
station that meets the following requirements:
* * * * *
    (x) Transfer at sea. Observers may be transferred at-sea between MS 
vessels, between MS vessels and C/P vessels, or between a MS vessel and 
a catcher vessel. Transfers at-sea between catcher vessels is 
prohibited. For transfers, both vessels must:
* * * * *
    (xi) Housing on vessel in port. During all periods an observer is 
housed on a vessel, the vessel operator must ensure that at least one 
crew member is aboard.
* * * * *
    (3) Procurement of observer services. (i) MS vessels. Owners of 
vessels required to carry observers under paragraph (j)(1)(i) of this 
section must arrange for observer services from an observer provider, 
except that:
    (A) Vessels are required to procure observer services directly from 
the Observer Program when NMFS has determined and given notification 
that the vessel must carry NMFS staff or an individual authorized by 
NMFS in lieu of an observer provided by an observer provider.
    (B) Vessels are required to procure observer services directly from 
the Observer Program and an observer provider when NMFS has determined 
and given notification that the vessel must carry NMFS staff and/or 
individuals authorized by NMFS, in addition to an observer provided by 
an observer provider.
    (ii) Catcher vessels. Owners of vessels required to carry observers 
under paragraph (j)(1)(i) of this section must arrange for observer 
services from an observer provider, except that:

[[Page 9609]]

    (A) Vessels are required to procure observer services directly from 
the Observer Program when NMFS has determined and given notification 
that the vessel must carry NMFS staff or an individual authorized by 
NMFS in lieu of an observer provided by an observer provider.
    (B) Vessels are required to procure observer services directly from 
the Observer Program and an observer provider when NMFS has determined 
and given notification that the vessel must carry NMFS staff and/or 
individuals authorized by NMFS, in addition to an observer provided by 
an observer provider.
    (4) Observer provider responsibilities. (i) Provide qualified 
candidates to serve as observers. Observer providers must provide 
qualified candidates to serve as observers. To be qualified, a 
candidate must have:
    (A) A Bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited college or 
university with a major in one of the natural sciences;
    (B) Successfully completed a minimum of 30 semester hours or 
equivalent in applicable biological sciences with extensive use of 
dichotomous keys in at least one course;
    (C) Successfully completed at least one undergraduate course each 
in math and statistics with a minimum of 5 semester hours total for 
both; and
    (D) Computer skills that enable the candidate to work competently 
with standard database software and computer hardware.
    (ii) Hiring an observer candidate. (A) MS vessels. (1) The observer 
provider must provide the candidate a copy of NMFS-provided pamphlets, 
information and other literature describing observer duties (i.e. the 
At-Sea Hake Observer Program's Observer Manual) prior to hiring the 
candidate. Observer job information is available from the Observer 
Program Office's Web site at http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/research/divisions/fram/observer/index.cfm.
    (2) The observer provider must have a written contract or a written 
contract addendum that is signed by the observer and observer provider 
prior to the observer's deployment with the following clauses:
    (i) That the observer will return all phone calls, emails, text 
messages, or other forms of communication within the time specified by 
the Observer Program;
    (ii) That the observer inform the observer provider prior to the 
time of embarkation if he or she is experiencing any new mental illness 
or physical ailments or injury since submission of the physician's 
statement as required as a qualified observer candidate that would 
prevent him or her from performing their assigned duties.
    (B) Catcher vessels. (1) Provide the candidate a copy of NMFS-
provided pamphlets, information and other literature describing 
observer duties, for example, the West Coast Groundfish Observer 
Program's sampling manual. Observer job information is available from 
the Observer Program Office's Web site at http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/research/divisions/fram/observer/index.cfm.
    (2) The observer provider must have a written contract or a written 
contract addendum that is signed by the observer and observer provider 
prior to the observer's deployment with the following clauses:
    (i) That the observer will return all phone calls, emails, text 
messages, or other forms of communication within the time specified by 
the Observer Program;
    (ii) That the observer inform the observer provider prior to the 
time of embarkation if he or she is experiencing any new mental illness 
or physical ailments or injury since submission of the physician's 
statement as required as a qualified observer candidate that would 
prevent him or her from performing their assigned duties; and
    (iii) That the observer completes a basic cardiopulmonary 
resuscitation/first aid course prior to the end of the Observer Program 
Training class.
    (iii) Ensure that observers complete duties in a timely manner. (A) 
MS vessels. An observer provider must ensure that observers employed by 
that observer provider do the following in a complete and timely 
manner:
    (1) Submit to NMFS all data, logbooks, and reports as required by 
the observer manual;
    (2) Report for his or her scheduled debriefing and complete all 
debriefing responsibilities;
    (3) Return all sampling and safety gear to the Observer Program 
Office;
    (4) Submit all biological samples from the observer's deployment by 
the completion of the electronic vessel and/or processor survey(s); and
    (5) Immediately report to the Observer Program Office and the OLE 
any refusal to board an assigned vessel.
    (B) Catcher vessels. An observer provider must ensure that 
observers employed by that observer provider do the following in a 
complete and timely manner:
    (1) Submit to NMFS all data, logbooks, and reports and biological 
samples as required under the Observer Program policy deadlines;
    (2) Report for his or her scheduled debriefing and complete all 
debriefing responsibilities;
    (3) Return all sampling and safety gear to the Observer Program 
Office; and
    (4) Immediately report to the Observer Program Office and the OLE 
any refusal to board an assigned vessel.
    (iv) Observers provided to vessel. (A) MS vessels. Observers 
provided to MS vessels:
    (1) Must have a valid North Pacific groundfish observer 
certification with required endorsements and an At-Sea Hake Observer 
Program endorsement;
    (2) Must not have informed the observer provider prior to the time 
of embarkation that he or she is experiencing a mental illness or a 
physical ailment or injury developed since submission of the 
physician's statement that would prevent him or her from performing his 
or her assigned duties; and
    (3) Must have successfully completed all NMFS required training and 
briefing before deployment.
    (B) Catcher vessels. Observers provided to catcher vessels:
    (1) Must have a valid West Coast Groundfish observer certification 
with the required endorsements;
    (2) Must have not informed the observer provider prior to the time 
of embarkation that he or she is experiencing a mental illness or a 
physical ailment or injury developed since submission of the 
physician's statement (required in paragraph (j)(4)(xi)(B)(2) of this 
section) that would prevent him or her from performing his or her 
assigned duties; and,
    (3) Must have successfully completed all NMFS required training and 
briefing before deployment.
    (v) Respond to industry requests for observers. An observer 
provider must provide an observer for deployment pursuant to the terms 
of the contractual relationship with the vessel to fulfill vessel 
requirements for observer coverage specified at paragraph (j)(1)(i) of 
this section. An alternate observer must be supplied in each case where 
injury or illness prevents an observer from performing his or her 
duties or where the observer resigns prior to completion of his or her 
duties. If the observer provider is unable to respond to an industry 
request for observer coverage from a vessel for whom the observer 
provider is in a contractual relationship due to lack of available 
observers by the estimated embarking time of the vessel, the observer 
provider must report it to the Observer Program at least 4 hours prior 
to the vessel's estimated embarking time.

[[Page 9610]]

    (vi) Provide observer salaries and benefits. An observer provider 
must provide to its observer employees salaries and any other benefits 
and personnel services in accordance with the terms of each observer's 
contract.
    (vii) Provide observer deployment logistics. (A) MS vessels. An 
observer provider must provide to each of its observers under contract:
    (1) All necessary transportation, including arrangements and 
logistics, to the initial location of deployment, to all subsequent 
vessel assignments during that deployment, and to and from the location 
designated for an observer to be interviewed by the Observer Program; 
and
    (2) Lodging, per diem, and any other services necessary to 
observers assigned to fishing vessels.
    (3) An observer under contract may be housed on a vessel to which 
he or she is assigned:
    (i) Prior to their vessel's initial departure from port;
    (ii) For a period not to exceed 24 hours following the completion 
of an offload when the observer has duties and is scheduled to 
disembark; or
    (iii) For a period not to exceed 24 hours following the vessel's 
arrival in port when the observer is scheduled to disembark.
    (iv) An observer under contract who is between vessel assignments 
must be provided with shoreside accommodations pursuant to the terms of 
the contract between the observer provider and the observers. If the 
observer provider is responsible for providing accommodations under the 
contract with the observer, the accommodations must be at a licensed 
hotel, motel, bed and breakfast, or other shoreside accommodations for 
the duration of each period between vessel or shoreside assignments. 
Such accommodations must include an assigned bed for each observer and 
no other person may be assigned that bed for the duration of that 
observer's stay. Additionally, no more than four beds may be in any 
room housing observers at accommodations meeting the requirements of 
this section.
    (B) Catcher vessels. An observer provider must ensure each of its 
observers under contract:
    (1) Has an individually assigned mobile or cell phone, in working 
order, for all necessary communication. An observer provider may 
alternatively compensate observers for the use of the observer's 
personal cell phone or pager for communications made in support of, or 
necessary for, the observer's duties.
    (2) Has a check-in system in which the observer is required to 
contact the observer provider each time they depart and return to port 
on a vessel.
    (3) Remains available to OLE and the Observer Program until the 
conclusion of debriefing.
    (4) Receives all necessary transportation, including arrangements 
and logistics to the initial location of deployment, to all subsequent 
vessel assignments during that deployment, and to and from the location 
designated for an observer to be interviewed by the Observer Program; 
and
    (5) Receives lodging, per diem, and any other services necessary to 
observers assigned to fishing vessels.
    (i) An observer under contract may be housed on a vessel to which 
he or she is assigned: Prior to their vessel's initial departure from 
port; for a period not to exceed 24 hours following the completion of 
an offload when the observer has duties and is scheduled to disembark; 
or for a period not to exceed 24 hours following the vessel's arrival 
in port when the observer is scheduled to disembark.
    (ii) Otherwise, each observer between vessels, while still under 
contract with an observer provider, shall be provided with 
accommodations in accordance with the contract between the observer and 
the observer provider. If the observer provider is responsible for 
providing accommodations under the contract with the observer, the 
accommodations must be at a licensed hotel, motel, bed and breakfast, 
or other shoreside accommodations that has an assigned bed for each 
observer that no other person may be assigned to for the duration of 
that observer's stay. Additionally, no more than four beds may be in 
any room housing observers at accommodations meeting the requirements 
of this section.
    (viii) Observer deployment limitations. (A) MS vessels. Unless 
alternative arrangements are approved by the Observer Program Office, 
an observer provider must not:
    (1) Deploy an observer on the same vessel more than 90 days in a 
12-month period;
    (2) Deploy an observer for more than 90 days in a single 
deployment;
    (3) Include more than four vessels assignments in a single 
deployment, or
    (4) Disembark an observer from a vessel before that observer has 
completed his or her sampling or data transmission duties.
    (B) Catcher vessels. Unless alternative arrangements are approved 
by the Observer Program Office, an observer provider must not deploy an 
observer on the same vessel more than 90 calendar days in a 12-month 
period.
    (ix) Verify vessel's Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Decal. An 
observer provider must ensure that the observer completes an observer 
vessel safety checklist, and verify that a vessel has a valid USCG 
Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Decal as required under paragraph 
(j)(2)(ii)(B) of this section prior to the observer embarking on the 
first trip and before an observer may get underway aboard the vessel. 
The provider must submit all vessel safety checklists to the Observer 
Program, as specified by Observer Program policy. One of the following 
acceptable means of verification must be used to verify the decal 
validity:
    (A) The observer provider or employee of the observer provider, 
including the observer, visually inspects the decal aboard the vessel 
and confirms that the decal is valid according to the decal date of 
issuance; or
    (B) The observer provider receives a hard copy of the USCG 
documentation of the decal issuance from the vessel owner or operator.
    (x) Maintain communications with observers. An observer provider 
must have an employee responsible for observer activities on call 24 
hours a day to handle emergencies involving observers or problems 
concerning observer logistics, whenever observers are at sea, in 
transit, or in port awaiting vessel reassignment.
    (xi) Maintain communications with the Observer Program Office. An 
observer provider must provide all of the following information by 
electronic transmission (email), fax, or other method specified by 
NMFS.
    (A) Motherships. (1) Training and briefing registration materials. 
The observer provider must submit training and briefing registration 
materials to the Observer Program Office at least 5 business days prior 
to the beginning of a scheduled observer at-sea hake training or 
briefing session.
    (i) Registration materials. Registration materials consist of the 
date of requested training or briefing with a list of observers 
including each observer's full name (i.e., first, middle and last 
names).
    (ii) Projected observer assignments. Prior to the observer's 
completion of the training or briefing session, the observer provider 
must submit to the Observer Program Office a statement of projected 
observer assignments that include the observer's name; vessel, gear 
type, and vessel/processor code; port of embarkation; and area of 
fishing.
    (2) Observer debriefing registration. The observer provider must 
contact the At-Sea Hake Observer Program within 5 business days after 
the completion of an

[[Page 9611]]

observer's deployment to schedule a date, time and location for 
debriefing. Observer debriefing registration information must be 
provided at the time of debriefing scheduling and must include the 
observer's name, cruise number, vessel name(s) and code(s), and 
requested debriefing date.
    (3) Observer provider contracts. If requested, observer providers 
must submit to the Observer Program Office a completed and unaltered 
copy of each type of signed and valid contract (including all 
attachments, appendices, addendums, and exhibits incorporated into the 
contract) between the observer provider and those entities requiring 
observer services under paragraph (j)(1)(i) of this section. Observer 
providers must also submit to the Observer Program Office upon request, 
a completed and unaltered copy of the current or most recent signed and 
valid contract (including all attachments, appendices, addendums, and 
exhibits incorporated into the contract and any agreements or policies 
with regard to observer compensation or salary levels) between the 
observer provider and the particular entity identified by the Observer 
Program or with specific observers. The copies must be submitted to the 
Observer Program Office via fax or mail within 5 business days of the 
request. Signed and valid contracts include the contracts an observer 
provider has with:
    (i) Vessels required to have observer coverage as specified at 
paragraph (j)(1)(i) of this section; and
    (ii) Observers.
    (4) Change in observer provider management and contact information. 
Observer providers must submit notification of any other change to 
provider contact information, including but not limited to, changes in 
contact name, phone number, email address, and address.
    (5) Other reports. Reports of the following must be submitted in 
writing to the At-Sea Hake Observer Program Office by the observer 
provider via fax or email address designated by the Observer Program 
Office within 24 hours after the observer provider becomes aware of the 
information:
    (i) Any information regarding possible observer harassment;
    (ii) Any information regarding any action prohibited under Sec.  
660.12(e); Sec.  660.112(a)(4); or Sec.  600.725(o), (t) and (u) of 
this chapter;
    (iii) Any concerns about vessel safety or marine casualty under 46 
CFR 4.05-1(a)(1) through (7);
    (iv) Any observer illness or injury that prevents the observer from 
completing any of his or her duties described in the observer manual; 
and
    (v) Any information, allegations or reports regarding observer 
conflict of interest or breach of the standards of behavior described 
in observer provider policy.
    (B) Catcher vessels. An observer provider must provide all of the 
following information by electronic transmission (email), fax, or other 
method specified by NMFS.
    (1) Observer training, briefing, and debriefing registration 
materials. This information must be submitted to the Observer Program 
Office at least 10 business days prior to the beginning of a scheduled 
West Coast groundfish observer certification training or briefing 
session.
    (i) Training registration materials consist of the following: Date 
of requested training; a list of observer candidates that includes each 
candidate's full name (i.e., first, middle and last names), date of 
birth, and gender; a copy of each candidate's academic transcripts and 
resume; a statement signed by the candidate under penalty of perjury 
which discloses the candidate's criminal convictions; and length of 
observer contract.
    (ii) Briefing registration materials consist of the following: Date 
and type of requested briefing session; list of observers to attend the 
briefing session, that includes each observer's full name (first, 
middle, and last names); and length of observer contract.
    (iii) The Observer Program will notify the observer provider which 
observers require debriefing and the specific time period the observer 
provider has to schedule a date, time, and location for debriefing. The 
observer provider must contact the Observer Program within 5 business 
days by telephone to schedule debriefings. Observer providers must 
immediately notify the Observer Program when observers end their 
contract earlier than anticipated.
    (2) Physical examination. A signed and dated statement from a 
licensed physician that he or she has physically examined an observer 
or observer candidate. The statement must confirm that, based on that 
physical examination, the observer or observer candidate does not have 
any health problems or conditions that would jeopardize that 
individual's safety or the safety of others while deployed, or prevent 
the observer or observer candidate from performing his or her duties 
satisfactorily. The statement must declare that, prior to the 
examination, the physician was made aware of the duties of the observer 
and the dangerous, remote, and rigorous nature of the work by reading 
the NMFS-prepared information. The physician's statement must be 
submitted to the Observer Program Office prior to certification of an 
observer. The physical exam must have occurred during the 12 months 
prior to the observer's or observer candidate's deployment.
    (3) Certificates of insurance. Copies of ``certificates of 
insurance,'' that names the Northwest Fisheries Science Center Observer 
Program manager as the ``certificate holder,'' shall be submitted to 
the Observer Program Office by February 1 of each year. The 
certificates of insurance shall verify the following coverage 
provisions and state that the insurance company will notify the 
certificate holder if insurance coverage is changed or canceled.
    (i) Maritime Liability to cover ``seamen's'' claims under the 
Merchant Marine Act (Jones Act) and General Maritime Law ($1 million 
minimum).
    (ii) Coverage under the U.S. Longshore and Harbor Workers' 
Compensation Act ($1 million minimum).
    (iii) States Worker's Compensation as required.
    (iv) Commercial General Liability.
    (4) Observer provider contracts. If requested, observer providers 
must submit to the Observer Program Office a completed and unaltered 
copy of each type of signed and valid contract (including all 
attachments, appendices, addendums, and exhibits incorporated into the 
contract) between the observer provider and those entities requiring 
observer services under paragraph (j)(1)(i) of this section. Observer 
providers must also submit to the Observer Program Office upon request, 
a completed and unaltered copy of the current or most recent signed and 
valid contract (including all attachments, appendices, addendums, and 
exhibits incorporated into the contract and any agreements or policies 
with regard to observer compensation or salary levels) between the 
observer provider and the particular entity identified by the Observer 
Program or with specific observers. The copies must be submitted to the 
Observer Program Office via fax or mail within 5 business days of the 
request. Signed and valid contracts include the contracts an observer 
provider has with:
    (i) Vessels required to have observer coverage as specified at 
paragraph (j)(1)(i) of this section; and
    (ii) Observers.
    (5) Change in observer provider management and contact information. 
An observer provider must submit to the Observer Program office any 
change of

[[Page 9612]]

management or contact information as required at Sec.  660.18(f).
    (6) Biological samples. The observer provider must ensure that 
biological samples are stored/handled properly prior to delivery/
transport to NMFS.
    (7) Observer status report. Observer providers must provide NMFS 
with an updated list of observer trip per Observer Program protocol. 
Trip information includes observer provider name, observer last name, 
observer first name, trip start date, trip end date, status of 
observer, vessel name, and vessel identification number.
    (8) Other information. An observer provider must submit to NMFS, if 
requested, copies of any information developed and used by the observer 
providers distributed to vessels, such as informational pamphlets, 
payment notification, description of observer duties, etc.
    (9) Other reports. Reports of the following must be submitted in 
writing to the Observer Program Office by the observer provider via fax 
or email address designated by the Observer Program Office within 24 
hours after the observer provider becomes aware of the information:
    (i) Any information regarding possible observer harassment;
    (ii) Any information regarding any action prohibited under Sec.  
660.12(e); Sec.  660.112(a)(4); or Sec.  600.725(o), (t) and (u) of 
this chapter;
    (iii) Any concerns about vessel safety or marine casualty under 46 
CFR 4.05-1(a)(1) through (7);
    (iv) Any observer illness or injury that prevents the observer from 
completing any of his or her duties described in the observer manual; 
and
    (v) Any information, allegations or reports regarding observer 
conflict of interest or breach of the standards of behavior described 
in observer provider policy.
    (xii) Replace lost or damaged gear. Lost or damaged gear issued to 
an observer by NMFS must be replaced by the observer provider. All 
replacements must be provided to NMFS and be in accordance with 
requirements and procedures identified in writing by the Observer 
Program Office.
    (xiii) Maintain confidentiality of information. An observer 
provider must ensure that all records on individual observer 
performance received from NMFS under the routine use provision of the 
Privacy Act under 5 U.S.C. 552a or as otherwise required by law remain 
confidential and are not further released to anyone outside the employ 
of the observer provider company to whom the observer was contracted 
except with written permission of the observer.
    (xiv) Limitations on conflict of interest. Observer providers must 
meet limitations on conflict of interest. Observer providers:
    (A) Must not have a direct financial interest, other than the 
provision of observer services or catch monitor services, in a North 
Pacific fishery managed pursuant to an FMP for the waters off the coast 
of Alaska, Alaska state waters, or in a Pacific Coast fishery managed 
by either the state or Federal Governments in waters off Washington, 
Oregon, or California, including but not limited to:
    (1) Any ownership, mortgage holder, or other secured interest in a 
vessel, or shoreside processor facility involved in the catching, 
taking, harvesting or processing of fish,
    (2) Any business involved with selling supplies or services to any 
vessel or shoreside processors participating in a fishery managed 
pursuant to an FMP in the waters off the coasts of Alaska, California, 
Oregon, and Washington, or
    (3) Any business involved with purchasing raw or processed products 
from any vessel or shoreside processor participating in a fishery 
managed pursuant to an FMP in the waters off the coasts of Alaska, 
California, Oregon, and Washington.
    (B) Must assign observers without regard to any preference by 
representatives of vessels other than when an observer will be 
deployed.
    (C) Must not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any 
gratuity, gift, favor, entertainment, loan, or anything of monetary 
value except for compensation for providing observer services from 
anyone who conducts fishing or fish processing activities that are 
regulated by NMFS in the Pacific coast or North Pacific regions, or who 
has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or 
nonperformance of the official duties of observer providers.
    (xv) Observer conduct and behavior. An observer provider must 
develop and maintain a policy addressing observer conduct and behavior 
for their employees that serve as observers. The policy shall address 
the following behavior and conduct regarding:
    (A) Observer use of alcohol;
    (B) Observer use, possession, or distribution of illegal drugs in 
violation of applicable law; and
    (C) Sexual contact with personnel of the vessel or processing 
facility to which the observer is assigned, or with any vessel or 
processing plant personnel who may be substantially affected by the 
performance or non-performance of the observer's official duties.
    (D) An observer provider shall provide a copy of its conduct and 
behavior policy by February 1 of each year, to: Observers, observer 
candidates and the Observer Program Office.
    (xvi) Refusal to deploy an observer. Observer providers may refuse 
to deploy an observer on a requesting vessel if the observer provider 
has determined that the requesting vessel is inadequate or unsafe 
pursuant to those regulations described at Sec.  600.746 of this 
chapter or U.S. Coast Guard and other applicable rules, regulations, 
statutes, or guidelines pertaining to safe operation of the vessel.
    (5) Observer certification and responsibilities. (i) Applicability. 
Observer certification authorizes an individual to fulfill duties as 
specified in writing by the NMFS Observer Program Office while under 
the employ of a NMFS-permitted observer provider and according to 
certification endorsements as designated under paragraph (j)(6)(iii) of 
this section.
    (ii) Observer certification official. The Regional Administrator 
will designate a NMFS observer certification official who will make 
decisions for the Observer Program Office on whether to issue or deny 
observer certifications and endorsements.
    (iii) Certification requirements. (A) Initial certification. NMFS 
may certify individuals who, in addition to any other relevant 
considerations:
    (1) Are employed by an observer provider company permitted pursuant 
to Sec.  660.16 at the time of the issuance of the certification;
    (2) Have provided, through their observer provider:
    (i) Information identified by NMFS at Sec.  679.52(b) of this 
chapter regarding an observer candidate's health and physical fitness 
for the job;
    (ii) Meet all observer education and health standards as specified 
in Sec.  679.52(b) of this chapter and
    (iii) Have successfully completed NMFS-approved training as 
prescribed by the Observer Program. Successful completion of training 
by an observer applicant consists of meeting all attendance and conduct 
standards issued in writing at the start of training; meeting all 
performance standards issued in writing at the start of training for 
assignments, tests, and other evaluation tools; and completing all 
other training requirements established by the Observer Program.
    (iv) Have not been decertified under paragraph (j)(5)(ix) of this 
section, or pursuant to Sec.  679.53(c) of this chapter.
    (B) [Reserved]
    (iv) Denial of a certification. The NMFS observer certification 
official will issue a written determination denying observer 
certification if the candidate

[[Page 9613]]

fails to successfully complete training, or does not meet the 
qualifications for certification for any other relevant reason.
    (v) Issuance of an observer certification. An observer 
certification will be issued upon determination by the observer 
certification official that the candidate has successfully met all 
requirements for certification as specified at paragraph (j)(6)(iii) of 
this section. The following endorsements must be obtained, in addition 
to observer certification, in order for an observer to deploy.
    (A) MS vessels. (1) North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program 
certification training endorsement. A certification training 
endorsement signifies the successful completion of the training course 
required to obtain observer certification. This endorsement expires 
when the observer has not been deployed and performed sampling duties 
as required by the Observer Program Office for a period of time, 
specified by the Observer Program, after his or her most recent 
debriefing. The observer can renew the endorsement by successfully 
completing certification training once more.
    (2) North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program annual general 
endorsements. Each observer must obtain an annual general endorsement 
to their certification prior to his or her first deployment within any 
calendar year subsequent to a year in which a certification training 
endorsement is obtained. To obtain an annual general endorsement, an 
observer must successfully complete the annual briefing, as specified 
by the Observer Program. All briefing attendance, performance, and 
conduct standards required by the Observer Program must be met.
    (3) North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program deployment 
endorsements. Each observer who has completed an initial deployment 
after certification or annual briefing must receive a deployment 
endorsement to their certification prior to any subsequent deployments 
for the remainder of that year. An observer may obtain a deployment 
endorsement by successfully completing all pre-cruise briefing 
requirements. The type of briefing the observer must attend and 
successfully complete will be specified in writing by the Observer 
Program during the observer's most recent debriefing.
    (4) At-Sea Hake Observer Program endorsements. A Pacific whiting 
fishery endorsement is required for purposes of performing observer 
duties aboard vessels that process groundfish at sea in the Pacific 
whiting fishery. A Pacific whiting fishery endorsement to an observer's 
certification may be obtained by meeting the following requirements:
    (i) Have a valid North Pacific groundfish observer certification;
    (ii) Receive an evaluation by NMFS for his or her most recent 
deployment that indicated that the observer's performance met Observer 
Program expectations for that deployment; successfully complete any 
required briefings as prescribed by the Observer Program; and comply 
with all of the other requirements of this section.
    (B) Catcher vessels. The following endorsements as prescribed by 
the Observer Program must be obtained in addition to observer 
certification, in order for an observer to deploy.
    (1) West Coast Groundfish Observer Program training endorsement. A 
training endorsement signifies the successful completion of the 
training course required to obtain observer certification. This 
endorsement expires when the observer has not been deployed and 
performed sampling duties as required by the Observer Program office 
for a period of time, specified by the Observer Program, after his or 
her most recent debriefing. The observer can renew the endorsement by 
successfully completing training once more.
    (2) West Coast Groundfish Observer Program annual general 
endorsement. Each observer must obtain an annual general endorsement to 
their certification prior to his or her first deployment within any 
calendar year subsequent to a year in which a training certification 
endorsement is obtained. To obtain an annual general endorsement, an 
observer must successfully complete the annual briefing, as specified 
by the Observer Program. All briefing attendance, performance, and 
conduct standards required by the Observer Program must be met.
    (3) West Coast Groundfish Observer Program deployment endorsement. 
Each observer who has completed an initial deployment, as defined by 
the Observer Program, after receiving a training endorsement or annual 
general endorsement, must complete all applicable debriefing 
requirements specified by the Observer Program. A deployment 
endorsement is issued to observers who meet the performance standards 
specified by the Observer Program. A deployment endorsement must be 
obtained prior to any subsequent deployments for the remainder of that 
calendar year. If a deployment endorsement is not issued, certification 
training must be repeated.
    (vi) Maintaining the validity of an observer certification. After 
initial issuance, an observer must keep their certification valid by 
meeting all of the following requirements specified below:
    (A) MS vessels. (1) Successfully perform their assigned duties as 
described in the observer manual or other written instructions from the 
Observer Program.
    (2) Accurately record their sampling data, write complete reports, 
and report accurately any observations of suspected violations of 
regulations relevant to conservation of marine resources or their 
environment.
    (3) Not disclose collected data and observations made on board the 
vessel or in the processing facility to any person except the owner or 
operator of the observed vessel or an authorized officer or NMFS.
    (4) Successfully complete any required briefings as prescribed by 
the At-Sea Hake Observer Program.
    (5) Successful completion of briefing by an observer applicant 
consists of meeting all attendance and conduct standards issued in 
writing at the start of training; meeting all performance standards 
issued in writing at the start of training for assignments, tests, and 
other evaluation tools; and completing all other briefing requirements 
established by the Observer Program.
    (6) Successfully meet all debriefing expectations including meeting 
Observer Program performance standards reporting for assigned 
debriefings or interviews.
    (7) Submit all data and information required by the Observer 
Program within the program's stated guidelines.
    (B) Catcher vessels. After initial issuance, an observer must keep 
their certification valid by meeting all of the following requirements 
specified below:
    (1) Successfully perform their assigned duties as described in the 
observer manual or other written instructions from the Observer 
Program.
    (2) Accurately record their sampling data, write complete reports, 
and report accurately any observations of suspected violations of 
regulations relevant to conservation of marine resources or their 
environment.
    (3) Not disclose collected data and observations made on board the 
vessel or in the processing facility to any person except the owner or 
operator of the observed vessel or an authorized officer or NMFS.
    (4) Successfully complete any required trainings or briefings as 
prescribed by the Observer Program.
    (5) Successful completion of briefing by an observer applicant 
consists of meeting all attendance and conduct

[[Page 9614]]

standards issued in writing at the start of training; meeting all 
performance standards issued in writing at the start of training for 
assignments, tests, and other evaluation tools; and completing all 
other briefing requirements established by the Observer Program.
    (6) Hold current basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation/first aid 
certification as per American Red Cross Standards.
    (7) Successfully meet all expectations in all debriefings including 
reporting for assigned debriefings or interviews and meeting program 
standards.
    (8) Submit all data and information required by the observer 
program within the program's stated guidelines.
    (9) Meet the minimum annual deployment period of 3 months at least 
once every 12 months.
    (vii) Limitations on conflict of interest. Observers:
    (A) Must not have a direct financial interest, other than the 
provision of observer services or catch monitor services, in a North 
Pacific fishery managed pursuant to an FMP for the waters off the coast 
of Alaska, Alaska state waters, or in a Pacific Coast fishery managed 
by either the state or Federal Governments in waters off Washington, 
Oregon, or California, including but not limited to:
    (1) Any ownership, mortgage holder, or other secured interest in a 
vessel, shore-based or floating stationary processor facility involved 
in the catching, taking, harvesting or processing of fish;
    (2) Any business involved with selling supplies or services to any 
vessel, shore-based or floating stationary processing facility; or
    (3) Any business involved with purchasing raw or processed products 
from any vessel, shore-based or floating stationary processing 
facilities.
    (B) Must not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any 
gratuity, gift, favor, entertainment, loan, or anything of monetary 
value from anyone who either conducts activities that are regulated by 
NMFS in the Pacific coast or North Pacific regions or has interests 
that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance 
of the observers' official duties.
    (C) May not serve as observers on any vessel or at any shore-based 
or floating stationary processor owned or operated by a person who 
employed the observer in the last two years.
    (D) May not solicit or accept employment as a crew member or an 
employee of a vessel or shore-based or floating stationary processor 
while employed by an observer provider.
    (E) Provisions for remuneration of observers under this section do 
not constitute a conflict of interest.
    (viii) Standards of behavior. Observers must:
    (A) Perform their assigned duties as described in the observer 
manual or other written instructions from the Observer Program Office.
    (B) Accurately record their sampling data, write complete reports, 
and report accurately any observations of suspected violations of 
regulations relevant to conservation of marine resources or their 
environment.
    (C) Not disclose collected data and observations made on board the 
vessel to any person except the owner or operator of the observed 
vessel, an authorized officer, or NMFS.
    (D) Not disclose collected data and observations made on board the 
vessel to any person except the owner or operator of the observed 
vessel, an authorized officer, or NMFS.
    (ix) Suspension and decertification. (A) Suspension and 
decertification review official. The Regional Administrator (or a 
designee) will designate an observer suspension and decertification 
review official(s), who will have the authority to review observer 
certifications and issue IADs of observer certification suspension and/
or decertification.
    (B) Causes for suspension or decertification. The suspension/
decertification official may initiate suspension or decertification 
proceedings against an observer:
    (1) When it is alleged that the observer has not met applicable 
standards, including any of the following:
    (i) Failed to satisfactorily perform duties of observers as 
specified in writing by the NMFS Observer Program; or
    (ii) Failed to abide by the standards of conduct for observers, 
including conflicts of interest;
    (2) Upon conviction of a crime or upon entry of a civil judgment 
for:
    (i) Commission of fraud or other violation in connection with 
obtaining or attempting to obtain certification, or in performing the 
duties as specified in writing by the NMFS Observer Program;
    (ii) Commission of embezzlement, theft, forgery, bribery, 
falsification or destruction of records, making false statements, or 
receiving stolen property;
    (iii) Commission of any other offense indicating a lack of 
integrity or honesty that seriously and directly affects the fitness of 
observers.
    (C) Issuance of an IAD. Upon determination that suspension or 
decertification is warranted, the suspension/decertification official 
will issue a written IAD to the observer via certified mail at the 
observer's most current address provided to NMFS. The IAD will identify 
whether a certification is suspended or revoked and will identify the 
specific reasons for the action taken. Decertification is effective 30 
calendar days after the date on the IAD, unless there is an appeal.
    (D) Appeals. A certified observer who receives an IAD that suspends 
or revokes his or her observer certification may appeal the 
determination within 30 calendar days after the date on the IAD to the 
Office of Administrative Appeals pursuant to Sec.  660.19.
* * * * *
0
12. In Sec.  660.160,
0
a. Revise paragraphs (b)(1)(ii) introductory text, (b)(1)(ii)(C), 
(g)(1), (g)(2)(ii)(B), (g)(2)(iii), (g)(2)(ix) introductory text, and 
(g)(3);
0
b. Add paragraph (g)(2)(xi);
0
c. Remove paragraph (g)(4);
0
d. Redesignate paragraphs (g)(5) and (g)(6) as (g)(4) and (g)(5);
0
e. Revise newly redesignated paragraphs (g)(4)(ii), (g)(4)(iii)(A) and 
(E), (g)(4)(iv) and (v), (g)(4)(vii), (g)(4)(ix), (g)(4)(xi) through 
(xvi), (g)(5)(i) and (ii), (g)(5)(iii)(A)(2), (g)(5)(v)(D), (g)(5)(vi), 
(g)(5)(vii)(A), and (g)(5)(viii) and (ix) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.160  Catcher/processor (C/P) Coop Program.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) C/P vessel responsibilities. The owner and operator of a C/P 
vessel must:
* * * * *
    (C) Catch weighing requirements. The owner and operator of a C/P 
vessel must ensure that all catch is weighed in its round form on a 
NMFS-approved scale that meets the requirements described in Sec.  
660.15(b).
* * * * *
    (g) * * * (1) Observer coverage requirements. (i) Coverage. The 
following observer coverage pertains to certified observers obtained 
from an observer provider permitted by NMFS. Any vessel registered to a 
C/P-endorsed limited entry trawl permit that is 125 ft (38.1 m) LOA or 
longer must carry two certified observers, and any vessel registered to 
a C/P-endorsed limited entry trawl permit that is shorter than 125 ft 
(38.1 m) LOA must carry one certified observer, each day that the 
vessel is used to take, retain, receive, land, process, or transport 
groundfish.
    (ii) Observer workload. The time required for the observer to 
complete

[[Page 9615]]

sampling duties must not exceed 12 consecutive hours in each 24-hour 
period.
    (iii) Refusal to board. Any boarding refusal on the part of the 
observer or vessel must be reported to the Observer Program and OLE by 
the observer provider. The observer must be available for an interview 
with the Observer Program or OLE if necessary.
    (2) * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (B) Have on board a valid Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Decal 
that certifies compliance with regulations found in 33 CFR chapter I 
and 46 CFR chapter I, a certificate of compliance issued pursuant to 46 
CFR 28.710 or a valid certificate of inspection pursuant to 46 U.S.C. 
3311. Maintain safe conditions on the vessel for the protection of 
observer(s) including adherence to all USCG and other applicable rules, 
regulations, or statutes pertaining to safe operation of the vessel, 
and provisions at Sec. Sec.  600.725 and 600.746 of this chapter.
    (iii) Computer hardware and software. C/P vessels must:
    (A) Provide hardware and software pursuant to regulations at Sec.  
679.51(e)(iii)(B) of this chapter.
    (B) Provide the observer(s) access to a computer required under 
paragraph (g)(2)(iii) of this section that is connected to a 
communication device that provides a point-to-point connection to the 
NMFS host computer.
    (C) Ensure that the C/P vessel has installed the most recent 
release of NMFS data entry software, or other approved software prior 
to the vessel receiving, catching or processing IFQ species.
    (D) Ensure that the communication equipment required in paragraph 
(g)(2)(iii) of this section and used by observers to enter and transmit 
data, is fully functional and operational. ``Functional'' means that 
all the tasks and components of the NMFS supplied, or other approved, 
software described at paragraph (g)(2)(iii) of this section and the 
data transmissions to NMFS can be executed effectively aboard the 
vessel by the communications equipment.
* * * * *
    (ix) Sampling station and operational requirements for C/P vessels. 
This paragraph (g)(2)(ix) contains the requirements for observer 
sampling stations. To allow the observer to carry out the required 
duties, the vessel owner must provide an observer sampling station that 
meets the following requirements:
* * * * *
    (xi) Housing on vessel in port. During all periods an observer is 
housed on a vessel, the vessel operator must ensure that at least one 
crew member is aboard.
* * * * *
    (3) Procurement of observer services. Owners of vessels required to 
carry observers under paragraph (g)(1) of this section must arrange for 
observer services from an observer provider permitted by NMFS, except 
that:
    (i) Vessels are required to procure observer services directly from 
the Observer Program when NMFS has determined and given notification 
that the vessel must carry NMFS staff or an individual authorized by 
NMFS in lieu of an observer provided by an observer provider.
    (ii) Vessels are required to procure observer services directly 
from the Observer Program and an observer provider when NMFS has 
determined and given notification that the vessel must carry NMFS staff 
and/or individuals authorized by NMFS, in addition to an observer 
provided by an observer provider.
* * * * *
    (4) * * *
    (ii) Hiring an observer candidate. (A) The observer provider must 
provide the candidate a copy of NMFS-provided pamphlets, information 
and other literature describing observer duties (i.e. the At-Sea Hake 
Observer Program's Observer Manual) prior to hiring an observer 
candidate. Observer job information is available from the Observer 
Program Office's Web site at http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/research/divisions/fram/observer/index.cfm.
    (B) The observer provider must have a written contract or a written 
contract addendum that is signed by the observer and observer provider 
prior to the observer's deployment with the following clauses:
    (1) That the observer will return all phone calls, emails, text 
messages, or other forms of communication within the time specified by 
the Observer Program;
    (2) That the observer inform the observer provider prior to the 
time of embarkation if he or she is experiencing any new mental illness 
or physical ailments or injury since submission of the physician's 
statement as required as a qualified observer candidate that would 
prevent him or her from performing their assigned duties.
    (iii) * * *
    (A) Submit to NMFS all data, logbooks and reports as required by 
the observer manual;
* * * * *
    (E) Immediately report to the Observer Program Office and the OLE 
any refusal to board an assigned vessel.
    (iv) Observers provided to vessel. Observers provided to C/P 
vessels:
    (A) Must have a valid North Pacific groundfish observer 
certification with required endorsements and an At-Sea Hake Observer 
Program endorsement;
    (B) Must not have informed the observer provider prior to the time 
of embarkation that he or she is experiencing a mental illness or a 
physical ailment or injury developed since submission of the 
physician's statement that would prevent him or her from performing his 
or her assigned duties; and
    (C) Must have successfully completed all NMFS required training and 
briefing before deployment.
    (v) Respond to industry requests for observers. An observer 
provider must provide an observer for deployment as requested pursuant 
to the contractual relationship with the vessel to fulfill vessel 
requirements for observer coverage specified under paragraph (g)(1) of 
this section. An alternate observer must be supplied in each case where 
injury or illness prevents the observer from performing his or her 
duties or where the observer resigns prior to completion of his or her 
duties. If the observer provider is unable to respond to an industry 
request for observer coverage from a vessel for whom the observer 
provider is in a contractual relationship due to lack of available 
observers by the estimated embarking time of the vessel, the observer 
provider must report it to the Observer Program at least 4 hours prior 
to the vessel's estimated embarking time.
* * * * *
    (vii) Provide observer deployment logistics. An observer provider 
must provide to each of its observers under contract:
    (A) All necessary transportation, including arrangements and 
logistics, to the initial location of deployment, to all subsequent 
vessel assignments during that deployment, and to and from the location 
designated for an observer to be interviewed by the Observer Program; 
and
    (B) Lodging, per diem, and any other services necessary to 
observers assigned to fishing vessels.
    (1) An observer under contract may be housed on a vessel to which 
he or she is assigned:
    (i) Prior to their vessel's initial departure from port;
    (ii) For a period not to exceed 24 hours following the completion 
of an offload when the observer has duties and is scheduled to 
disembark; or
    (iii) For a period not to exceed 24 hours following the vessel's 
arrival in

[[Page 9616]]

port when the observer is scheduled to disembark.
    (2) [Reserved]
    (C) An observer under contract who is between vessel assignments 
must be provided with shoreside accommodations in accordance with the 
contract between the observer and the observer provider. If the 
observer provider is providing accommodations, it must be at a licensed 
hotel, motel, bed and breakfast, or other shoreside accommodations for 
the duration of each period between vessel or shoreside assignments. 
Such accommodations must include an assigned bed for each observer and 
no other person may be assigned that bed for the duration of that 
observer's stay. Additionally, no more than four beds may be in any 
room housing observers at accommodations meeting the requirements of 
this section.
* * * * *
    (ix) Verify vessel's Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Decal. An 
observer provider must ensure that the observer completes an observer 
vessel safety checklist, and verify that a vessel has a valid USCG 
Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety decal as required under paragraph 
(h)(2)(ii)(B) of this section prior to the observer embarking on the 
first trip and before an observer may get underway aboard the vessel. 
The provider must submit all vessel safety checklists to the Observer 
Program, as specified by Observer Program policy. One of the following 
acceptable means of verification must be used to verify the decal 
validity:
    (A) The observer provider or employee of the observer provider, 
including the observer, visually inspects the decal aboard the vessel 
and confirms that the decal is valid according to the decal date of 
issuance; or
    (B) The observer provider receives a hard copy of the USCG 
documentation of the decal issuance from the vessel owner or operator.
* * * * *
    (xi) Maintain communications with the Observer Program Office. An 
observer provider must provide all of the following information by 
electronic transmission (email), fax, or other method specified by 
NMFS.
    (A) Observer training and briefing. Observer training and briefing 
registration materials must be submitted to the Observer Program Office 
at least 5 business days prior to the beginning of a scheduled observer 
at-sea hake training or briefing session. Registration materials 
consist of the following: The date of requested training or briefing 
with a list of observers including each observer's full name (i.e., 
first, middle and last names).
    (B) Observer debriefing registration. The observer provider must 
contact the Observer Program within 5 business days after the 
completion of an observer's deployment to schedule a date, time and 
location for debriefing. Observer debriefing registration information 
must be provided at the time of debriefing scheduling and must include 
the observer's name, cruise number, vessel name(s) and code(s), and 
requested debriefing date.
    (C) Observer provider contracts. If requested, observer providers 
must submit to the Observer Program Office a completed and unaltered 
copy of each type of signed and valid contract (including all 
attachments, appendices, addendums, and exhibits incorporated into the 
contract) between the observer provider and those entities requiring 
observer services under paragraph (g)(1) of this section. Observer 
providers must also submit to the Observer Program Office upon request, 
a completed and unaltered copy of the current or most recent signed and 
valid contract (including all attachments, appendices, addendums, and 
exhibits incorporated into the contract and any agreements or policies 
with regard to observer compensation or salary levels) between the 
observer provider and the particular entity identified by the Observer 
Program or with specific observers. The copies must be submitted to the 
Observer Program Office via fax or mail within 5 business days of the 
request. Signed and valid contracts include the contracts an observer 
provider has with:
    (1) Vessels required to have observer coverage as specified at 
paragraph (g)(1) of this section; and
    (2) Observers.
    (D) Change in observer provider management and contact information. 
Observer providers must submit notification of any other change to 
provider contact information, including but not limited to, changes in 
contact name, phone number, email address, and address.
    (E) Other reports. Reports of the following must be submitted in 
writing to the Observer Program Office by the observer provider via fax 
or email address designated by the Observer Program Office within 24 
hours after the observer provider becomes aware of the information:
    (1) Any information regarding possible observer harassment;
    (2) Any information regarding any action prohibited under 
Sec. Sec.  660.12(e), 660.112 or 600.725(o), (t) and (u) of this 
chapter;
    (3) Any concerns about vessel safety or marine casualty under 46 
CFR 4.05-1(a)(1) through (7);
    (4) Any observer illness or injury that prevents the observer from 
completing any of his or her duties described in the observer manual; 
and
    (5) Any information, allegations or reports regarding observer 
conflict of interest or breach of the standards of behavior described 
in observer provider policy.
    (xii) Replace lost or damaged gear. Lost or damaged gear issued to 
an observer by NMFS must be replaced by the observer provider. All 
replacements must be provided to NMFS and be in accordance with 
requirements and procedures identified in writing by the Observer 
Program Office.
    (xiii) Maintain confidentiality of information. An observer 
provider must ensure that all records on individual observer 
performance received from NMFS under the routine use provision of the 
Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a) or other applicable law remain confidential 
and are not further released to anyone outside the employ of the 
observer provider company to whom the observer was contracted except 
with written permission of the observer.
    (xiv) Limitations on conflict of interest. An observer provider 
must meet limitations on conflict of interest. Observer providers:
    (A) Must not have a direct financial interest, other than the 
provision of observer services or catch monitor services, in a North 
Pacific fishery managed pursuant to an FMP for the waters off the coast 
of Alaska, Alaska state waters, or in a Pacific Coast fishery managed 
by either the state or Federal Governments in waters off Washington, 
Oregon, or California, including but not limited to:
    (1) Any ownership, mortgage holder, or other secured interest in a 
vessel or shoreside processor facility involved in the catching, 
taking, harvesting or processing of fish;
    (2) Any business involved with selling supplies or services to any 
vessel or shoreside processors participating in a fishery managed 
pursuant to an FMP in the waters off the coasts of Alaska, California, 
Oregon, and Washington; or
    (3) Any business involved with purchasing raw or processed products 
from any vessel or shoreside processor participating in a fishery 
managed pursuant to an FMP in the waters off the coasts of Alaska, 
California, Oregon, and Washington.
    (B) Must assign observers without regard to any preference by 
representatives of vessels other than when an observer will be 
deployed.

[[Page 9617]]

    (C) Must not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any 
gratuity, gift, favor, entertainment, loan, or anything of monetary 
value except for compensation for providing observer services from 
anyone who conducts fishing or fish processing activities that are 
regulated by NMFS, or who has interests that may be substantially 
affected by the performance or nonperformance of the official duties of 
observer providers.
    (xv) Observer conduct and behavior. An observer provider must 
develop and maintain a policy addressing observer conduct and behavior 
for their employees that serve as observers. The policy shall address 
the following behavior and conduct:
    (A) Observer use of alcohol;
    (B) Observer use, possession, or distribution of illegal drugs in 
violation of applicable law; and
    (C) Sexual contact with personnel of the vessel or processing 
facility to which the observer is assigned, or with any vessel or 
processing plant personnel who may be substantially affected by the 
performance or non-performance of the observer's official duties.
    (D) An observer provider shall provide a copy of its conduct and 
behavior policy by February 1 of each year, to observers, observer 
candidates, and the Observer Program Office.
    (xvi) Refusal to deploy an observer. Observer providers may refuse 
to deploy an observer on a requesting vessel if the observer provider 
has determined that the requesting vessel is inadequate or unsafe 
pursuant to those regulations described at Sec.  600.746 of this 
chapter or U.S. Coast Guard and other applicable rules, regulations, 
statutes, or guidelines pertaining to safe operation of the vessel.
    (5) * * * (i) Applicability. Observer certification authorizes an 
individual to fulfill duties as specified in writing by the Observer 
Program Office while under the employ of an observer provider and 
according to certification endorsements as designated under paragraph 
(g)(5)(iii) of this section.
    (ii) Observer certification official. The Regional Administrator 
will designate a NMFS observer certification official who will make 
decisions for the Observer Program Office on whether to issue or deny 
observer certifications and endorsements.
    (iii) * * *
    (A) * * *
    (2) Have provided, through their observer provider:
    (i) Information set forth at Sec.  679.52(b) of this chapter 
regarding an observer candidate's health and physical fitness for the 
job;
    (ii) Meet all observer education and health standards as specified 
in Sec.  679.52(b) of this chapter; and
    (iii) Have successfully completed NMFS-approved training as 
prescribed by the Observer Program. Successful completion of training 
by an observer applicant consists of meeting all attendance and conduct 
standards issued in writing at the start of training; meeting all 
performance standards issued in writing at the start of training for 
assignments, tests, and other evaluation tools; and completing all 
other training requirements established by the Observer Program.
    (iv) Have not been decertified under paragraph (g)(5)(ix) of this 
section, or pursuant to Sec.  679.53(c) of this chapter.
* * * * *
    (v) * * *
    (D) At-Sea Hake Observer Program endorsements. A Pacific whiting 
fishery endorsement is required for purposes of performing observer 
duties aboard vessels that process groundfish at sea in the Pacific 
whiting fishery. A Pacific whiting fishery endorsement to an observer's 
certification may be obtained by meeting the following requirements:
    (1) Have a valid North Pacific groundfish observer certification;
    (2) Receive an evaluation by NMFS for his or her most recent 
deployment that indicated that the observer's performance met Observer 
Program expectations for that deployment;
    (3) Successfully complete any required briefings as prescribed by 
the Observer Program; and
    (4) Comply with all of the other requirements of this section.
    (vi) Maintaining the validity of an observer certification. After 
initial issuance, an observer must keep their certification valid by 
meeting all of the following requirements specified below:
    (A) Successfully perform their assigned duties as described in the 
observer manual or other written instructions from the Observer 
Program.
    (B) Accurately record their sampling data, write complete reports, 
and report accurately any observations of suspected violations of 
regulations relevant to conservation of marine resources or their 
environment.
    (C) Not disclose collected data and observations made on board the 
vessel or in the processing facility to any person except the owner or 
operator of the observed vessel or an authorized officer or NMFS.
    (D) Successfully complete any required briefings as prescribed by 
the At-Sea Hake Observer Program.
    (E) Successful completion of briefing by an observer applicant 
consists of meeting all attendance and conduct standards issued in 
writing at the start of training; meeting all performance standards 
issued in writing at the start of training for assignments, tests, and 
other evaluation tools; and completing all other briefing requirements 
established by the Observer Program.
    (F) Successfully meet all debriefing expectations including meeting 
Observer Program performance standards reporting for assigned 
debriefings or interviews.
    (G) Submit all data and information required by the Observer 
Program within the program's stated guidelines.
    (vii) Limitations on conflict of interest. Observers:
    (A) Must not have a direct financial interest, other than the 
provision of observer services or catch monitor services, in a North 
Pacific fishery managed pursuant to an FMP for the waters off the coast 
of Alaska, Alaska state waters, or in a Pacific Coast fishery managed 
by either the state or Federal Governments in waters off Washington, 
Oregon, or California, including but not limited to:
    (1) Any ownership, mortgage holder, or other secured interest in a 
vessel, shore-based or floating stationary processor facility involved 
in the catching, taking, harvesting or processing of fish;
    (2) Any business involved with selling supplies or services to any 
vessel, shore-based or floating stationary processing facility; or
    (3) Any business involved with purchasing raw or processed products 
from any vessel, shore-based or floating stationary processing 
facilities.
* * * * *
    (viii) Standards of behavior. Observers must:
    (A) Perform their assigned duties as described in the observer 
manual or other written instructions from the Observer Program Office.
    (B) Accurately record their sampling data, write complete reports, 
and report accurately any observations of suspected violations of 
regulations relevant to conservation of marine resources or their 
environment.
    (C) Not disclose collected data and observations made on board the 
vessel to any person except the owner or operator of the observed 
vessel, an authorized officer, or NMFS.
    (ix) Suspension and decertification. (A) Suspension and 
decertification review official. The Regional Administrator (or a 
designee) will designate an observer suspension and decertification 
review official(s), who will have the authority to review

[[Page 9618]]

observer certifications and issue IADs of observer certification 
suspension and/or decertification.
    (B) Causes for suspension or decertification. The suspension/
decertification official may initiate suspension or decertification 
proceedings against an observer:
    (1) When it is alleged that the observer has committed any acts or 
omissions of any of the following: Failed to satisfactorily perform the 
duties of observers as specified in writing by the Observer Program; or 
failed to abide by the standards of conduct for observers (including 
conflicts of interest);
    (2) Upon conviction of a crime or upon entry of a civil judgment 
for: Commission of fraud or other violation in connection with 
obtaining or attempting to obtain certification, or in performing the 
duties as specified in writing by the Observer Program; commission of 
embezzlement, theft, forgery, bribery, falsification or destruction of 
records, making false statements, or receiving stolen property; or 
commission of any other offense indicating a lack of integrity or 
honesty that seriously and directly affects the fitness of observers.
    (C) Issuance of an IAD. Upon determination that suspension or 
decertification is warranted, the suspension/decertification official 
will issue a written IAD to the observer via certified mail at the 
observer's most current address provided to NMFS. The IAD will identify 
whether a certification is suspended or revoked and will identify the 
specific reasons for the action taken. Decertification is effective 30 
calendar days after the date on the IAD, unless there is an appeal.
    (D) Appeals. A certified observer who receives an IAD that suspends 
or revokes the observer certification may appeal the determination 
within 30 calendar days after the date on the IAD to the Office of 
Administrative Appeals pursuant to Sec.  660.19.
* * * * *
0
13. In Sec.  660.216, revise paragraphs (a) through (d), (e)(2), 
(e)(3)(i), and (f) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.216  Fixed gear fishery--observer requirements.

    (a) Observer coverage requirements. (1) Harvesting vessels. When 
NMFS notifies the owner, operator, permit holder, or the manager of a 
harvesting vessel of any requirement to carry an observer, the 
harvesting vessel may not be used to fish for groundfish without 
carrying an observer.
    (2) Processing vessels. Unless specified otherwise by the Observer 
Program, any vessel 125 ft (38.1 m) LOA or longer that is engaged in 
at-sea processing must carry two certified observers procured from a 
permitted observer provider, and any vessel shorter than 125 ft (38.1 
m) LOA that is engaged in at-sea processing must carry one certified 
observer procured from an permitted observer provider, each day that 
the vessel is used to take, retain, receive, land, process, or 
transport groundfish. Owners of vessels required to carry observers 
under this paragraph (a)(2) must arrange for observer services from a 
permitted observer provider except when the Observer Program has 
determined and given notification that the vessel must carry NMFS staff 
or an individual authorized by NMFS in addition to or in lieu of an 
observer provided by a permitted observer provider.
    (b) Notice of departure basic rule. At least 24 hours (but not more 
than 36 hours) before departing on a fishing trip, a harvesting vessel 
that has been notified by NMFS that it is required to carry an 
observer, or that is operating in an active sampling unit, must notify 
NMFS (or its designated agent) of the vessel's intended time of 
departure.
    (1) Optional notice--weather delays. A harvesting vessel that 
anticipates a delayed departure due to weather or sea conditions may 
advise NMFS of the anticipated delay when providing the basic notice 
described in paragraph (b) of this section. If departure is delayed 
beyond 36 hours from the time the original notice is given, the vessel 
must provide an additional notice of departure not less than 4 hours 
prior to departure, in order to enable NMFS to place an observer.
    (2) Optional notice--back-to-back fishing trips. A harvesting 
vessel that intends to make back-to-back fishing trips (i.e., trips 
with less than 24 hours between offloading from one trip and beginning 
another), may provide the basic notice described in paragraph (b) of 
this section for both trips, prior to making the first trip. A vessel 
that has given such notice is not required to give additional notice of 
the second trip.
    (c) Cease fishing report. Within 24 hours of ceasing the taking and 
retaining of groundfish, vessel owners, operators, or managers must 
notify NMFS or its designated agent that fishing has ceased. This 
requirement applies to any harvesting and processing vessel that is 
required to carry an observer, or that is operating in a segment of the 
fleet that NMFS has identified as an active sampling unit.
    (d) Waiver. The West Coast Regional Administrator (or designee) may 
provide written notification to the vessel owner stating that a 
determination has been made to temporarily waive coverage requirements 
because of circumstances that are deemed to be beyond the vessel's 
control.
    (e) * * *
    (2) Safe conditions. Maintain safe conditions on the vessel for the 
protection of observer(s) including adherence to all USCG and other 
applicable rules, regulations, or statutes pertaining to safe operation 
of the vessel, and provisions at Sec. Sec.  600.725 and 600.746 of this 
chapter. Have on board a valid Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Decal 
that certifies compliance with regulations found in 33 CFR chapter I 
and 46 CFR chapter I, a certificate of compliance issued pursuant to 46 
CFR 28.710 or a valid certificate of inspection pursuant to 46 U.S.C. 
3311.
    (3) Observer communications. Facilitate observer communications by:
    (i) Observer use of equipment. Allowing observer(s) to use the 
vessel's communication equipment and personnel, on request, for the 
entry, transmission, and receipt of work-related messages, at no cost 
to the observer(s), the observer provider or NMFS.
* * * * *
    (f) Observer sampling station. This paragraph (f) contains the 
requirements for observer sampling stations. The vessel owner must 
provide an observer sampling station that complies with this section so 
that the observer can carry out required duties.
    (1) Accessibility. The observer sampling station must be available 
to the observer at all times.
    (2) Location. The observer sampling station must be located within 
4 m of the location from which the observer samples unsorted catch. 
Unobstructed passage must be provided between the observer sampling 
station and the location where the observer collects sample catch.
0
14. In Sec.  660.316, revise paragraphs (a) through (d), (e)(2), 
(e)(3)(i), and (f) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.316  Open access fishery--observer requirements.

    (a) Observer coverage requirements. (1) Harvesting vessels. When 
NMFS notifies the owner, operator, permit holder, or the manager of a 
harvesting vessel of any requirement to carry an observer, the 
harvesting vessel may not be used to fish for groundfish without 
carrying an observer.
    (2) Processing vessels. Unless specified otherwise by the Observer 
Program, any vessel 125 ft (38.1 m) LOA

[[Page 9619]]

or longer that is engaged in at-sea processing must carry two certified 
observers procured from a permitted observer provider, and any vessel 
shorter than 125 ft (38.1 m) LOA that is engaged in at-sea processing 
must carry one certified observer procured from a permitted observer 
provider, each day that the vessel is used to take, retain, receive, 
land, process, or transport groundfish. Owners of vessels required to 
carry observers under this paragraph (a)(2) must arrange for observer 
services from a permitted observer provider except when the Observer 
Program has determined and given notification that the vessel must 
carry NMFS staff or an individual authorized by NMFS in addition to or 
in lieu of an observer provided by a permitted observer provider.
    (b) Notice of departure--basic rule. At least 24 hours (but not 
more than 36 hours) before departing on a fishing trip, a harvesting 
vessel that has been notified by NMFS that it is required to carry an 
observer, or that is operating in an active sampling unit, must notify 
NMFS (or its designated agent) of the vessel's intended time of 
departure. Notice will be given in a form to be specified by NMFS.
    (1) Optional notice--weather delays. A harvesting vessel that 
anticipates a delayed departure due to weather or sea conditions may 
advise NMFS of the anticipated delay when providing the basic notice 
described in paragraph (b) of this section. If departure is delayed 
beyond 36 hours from the time the original notice is given, the vessel 
must provide an additional notice of departure not less than 4 hours 
prior to departure, in order to enable NMFS to place an observer.
    (2) Optional notice--back-to-back fishing trips. A harvesting 
vessel that intends to make back-to-back fishing trips (i.e., trips 
with less than 24 hours between offloading from one trip and beginning 
another), may provide the basic notice described in paragraph (b) of 
this section for both trips, prior to making the first trip. A vessel 
that has given such notice is not required to give additional notice of 
the second trip.
    (c) Cease fishing report. Within 24 hours of ceasing the taking and 
retaining of groundfish, vessel owners, operators, or managers must 
notify NMFS or its designated agent that fishing has ceased. This 
requirement applies to any harvesting or processing vessel that is 
required to carry an observer, or that is operating in a segment of the 
fleet that NMFS has identified as an active sampling unit.
    (d) Waiver. The West Coast Regional Administrator (or designate) 
may provide written notification to the vessel owner stating that a 
determination has been made to temporarily waive coverage requirements 
because of circumstances that are deemed to be beyond the vessel's 
control.
    (e) * * * * *
    (2) Safe conditions. Maintain safe conditions on the vessel for the 
protection of observer(s) including adherence to all USCG and other 
applicable rules, regulations, or statutes pertaining to safe operation 
of the vessel, and provisions at Sec. Sec.  600.725 and 600.746 of this 
chapter. Have on board a valid Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Decal 
that certifies compliance with regulations found in 33 CFR chapter I 
and 46 CFR chapter I, a certificate of compliance issued pursuant to 46 
CFR 28.710 or a valid certificate of inspection pursuant to 46 U.S.C. 
3311.
    (3) * * *
    (i) Observer use of equipment. Allowing observer(s) to use the 
vessel's communication equipment and personnel, on request, for the 
entry, transmission, and receipt of work-related messages, at no cost 
to the observer(s), observer provider or NMFS.
* * * * *
    (f) Observer sampling station. This paragraph (f) contains the 
requirements for observer sampling stations. The vessel owner must 
provide an observer sampling station that complies with this section so 
that the observer can carry out required duties.
    (1) Accessibility. The observer sampling station must be available 
to the observer at all times.
    (2) Location. The observer sampling station must be located within 
4 m of the location from which the observer samples unsorted catch. 
Unobstructed passage must be provided between the observer sampling 
station and the location where the observer collects sample catch.

[FR Doc. 2014-02576 Filed 2-18-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P