Fishing vessels between 40 and 57.5 feet in length will carry marine observers on a trip-by-trip basis next year under a change recommended by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The council took action on the 2015 annual deployment plan, or ADP, for the marine observer program, which places someone onboard commercial fishing vessels to count and sample the catch.

The National Marine Fisheries Service, or NFMS, implemented the revised observer program in 2013. Each year, the council has asked for adjustments to improve the information it collects and how it affects Alaska’s fishing fleet.

In previous years, the smaller vessels carried an observer for 60 days at a time, while larger vessels, and all trawlers in the partial coverage category, carried observers for one fishing trip at a time. Smaller vessels, however, said that carrying an observer for 60 days at a time was too burdensome.

During a presentation, NMFS staff also said that changing to the trip selection pool would help adjust the costs and meet target coverage rates for all vessels.

The motion, which was made by council member Bill Tweit and received a unanimous yes vote, also called for a 12 percent coverage rate for the smaller vessels, and 24 percent coverage for the larger vessels, which is what the agency had included in its ADP.

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