NMFS proposes electronic logbooks for local pelagic longline fishery
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) proposes to require the use of electronic logbooks in Hawaii pelagic longline fisheries and on Class C and D vessels in the American Samoa pelagic longline fishery.
“This proposed rule is intended to reduce human error, improve data accuracy, save time for fishermen and NMFS, and provide more rigorous monitoring and forecasting of catch limits,” said NMFS in a public notice posted on the federal portal [www.regulations.gov] and is seeking public comments to be received by July 9th.
Current regulations require vessel operators to record and submit catch information in paper logbooks, with the option to use electronic logbooks. Currently, if using paper logbooks, NMFS requires vessel operators to record catch information daily and submit the logbooks within 72 hours of returning to port after a fishing trip.
If using electronic logbooks, NMFS requires vessel operators to record catch information daily and submit electronic logs within 24 hours after the end of a fishing day, said NMFS.
In the event of a system failure, vessel operators are required to submit electronic or paper logbooks within 72 hours of returning to port after a fishing trip.
NMFS information states that there are approximately 12 active Class C and D vessels in the American Samoa longline fishery. As of March 2021, No vessels are using electronic logbooks in the American Samoa fishery, according to NMFS, which also notes that several vessels in the Hawaii fisheries are voluntarily using electronic logbooks.
In June 2020, the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Council considered requiring electronic logbooks in the Hawaii and American Samoa pelagic longline fisheries. And last September, the Council recommended that NMFS require electronic logbooks for the Hawaii pelagic longline fisheries and for Class C and D vessels in the American Samoa pelagic longline fishery, implementation targeted for July 2021.
Pursuant to the Council's recommendation, NMFS now proposes in this rule the required use of electronic logbooks for vessels with Federal permits for the Hawaii fishery, and Class C and D Federal permits for the American Samoa fishery.
NMFS would be responsible for purchasing, providing, and maintaining the tablets, software, and data transmission at no cost to fishery participants. In addition to providing the electronic logbooks, NMFS would provide vessel operators with individual user accounts and train them to use the system properly.