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Some Fishermen Go Digital Early as NOAA Prepares for Electronic Reporting This Fall

  • Some commercial fishermen begin to adopt electronic reporting early before it becomes mandatory this fall
  • NOAA Fisheries says shift will allow for better management of fish stocks in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions
  • NOAA phase-out of paper logbooks taking place alongside long-term plan to eliminate traditional paper charts

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

NOAA Fisheries is highlighting positive feedback from commercial fishermen who have adopted electronic reporting methods early, ahead of a rule to go into effect later this year.

Starting in the fall, many commercial fishermen and all federally permitted for-hire fishermen will be required to submit reports on their vessel’s trips electronically within 48 hours of returning to port. The rule replaces the use of paper logbooks for reporting.

NOAA Fisheries approved the change based on a recommendation from both the Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Councils. At the request of the New England Council, it also extended the requirement to for-hire vessels such as charter or party boats with permits for fisheries managed by the Council. Approximately 3,000 vessels in the region will be required to shift from paper logbooks to electronic reporting.

The rule change will go into effect in November 2021, following a one-year delay implemented to allow vessel owners and operators to find an appropriate application and receive any necessary training for it. Several smart devices and web-based apps allow fishermen to report trips electronically. NOAA Fisheries says electronic reporting will allow reports to be filed more quickly, accurately, and efficiently, allowing it to better manage fish stocks in the region.

NOAA is also in the midst of going paperless in its nautical charts. The planned phase-out of traditional paper charts was announced in 2019, is set to begin this August, and will be completed by January 2025.

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