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DOC/NOAA RIN: 0648-BK33 Publication ID: Fall 2021 
Title: Rule To Extend Measures to Address Fishery Observer Coverage During the Coronavirus Pandemic 

NMFS is charged with conservation and management of federal fisheries under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA or Act). 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.  The Act provides authority to require that human observers be carried on fishing vessels and/or stationed at fish processing plants in order to collect biological and economic data from fisheries.  Coverage levels can either be full (each vessel must take an observer on every trip) or partial (percentage of fishing trips made by vessels in the fishery must take an observer). Regardless of coverage levels, it is unlawful to fail to comply with observer coverage requirements. Due to travel restrictions and safety measures adopted in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, NMFS recognized that it may not be logistically possible or safe to deploy observers. Likewise, measures taken in response to the Pandemic have impacted NMFS’ ability to fulfill requirements for training observers. Thus, NMFS issued an emergency regulation under section 305(c)(3)(B) of the MSA, 16 U.S.C. 1855(c)(3)(B), that authorized waiver of observer coverage and some training and other program requirements through September 23, 2020, and subsequently extended the effectiveness through March 26, 2021. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, NMFS intends to promulgate an interim final rule to extend the termination date of the Observer Waiver Rule for 364 days under section 305(c)(3)(C) of the MSA, with concurrence from the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Agency: Department of Commerce(DOC)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 50 CFR 600   
Legal Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.   
Legal Deadline:  None
Action Date FR Cite
Interim Final Rule  03/29/2021  86 FR 16307   
Interim Final Rule Effective Date  03/27/2021 
Interim Final Rule Comment Period End  05/28/2021 
Final Action  05/00/2022 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: None 
Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: No 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Kelly Denit
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries
Department of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1315 East-West Highway, Room 13362,
Silver Spring, MD 20901
Phone:301 427-8500