Under pressure, NOAA delays at-sea monitors for a month

South Coast Today

After facing significant pushback from elected officials, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration abruptly reversed course Tuesday and announced it will not resume sending observers out to sea on fishing vessels until at least August.

NOAA had been planning to revive at-sea monitoring in the Northeast on Wednesday after more than three months of suspending the practice, describing it as a key function to track fishery health. Late Tuesday afternoon, however, the agency said the evolving course of the pandemic “required us to re-evaluate and adapt to changing circumstances.”

A waiver exempting fishing vessels from their requirement to carry human observers or at-sea monitors will now remain in place through July 31, during which NOAA plans to conduct outreach with industry leaders and flesh out safety practices it will deploy when monitoring does return.

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