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The Boat Co. press release on court ruling

The Boat Co. press release on court ruling

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Published by Deckboss
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Published by: Deckboss on Aug 08, 2014
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08/10/2014

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
 
August 7, 2014
CONTACTS: Captain Joel Hanson, Director of Conservation Programs, The Boat Company, (907) 738-1033
 
Paul Olson, Attorney, The Boat Company, (907) 738-2400
Colin O’Brien, Attorney,
Earthjustice, (907) 792-7103
COURT: Agency Changes to North Pacific Observer Program Adopted Unlawfully; Program May Not Be Reliable for Salmon and Halibut Bycatch Reduction New Analysis Ordered Anchorage, AK 
 — 
 Late yesterday, the United States District Court for the District of Alaska ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) violated the law when it restructured the observer program for the North Pacific groundfish fisheries. The restructured program doubled the daily cost of observer coverage, leading to a sharp reduction of human observers on certain high-volume trawlers that are responsible for significant  bycatch of salmon and Pacific halibut in the Gulf of Alaska. Trawlers are responsible for essentially all of the salmon bycatch and 87 percent of the halibut bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska. The Court ruled that NMFS arbitrarily ignored the potential impacts of increased costs and lower observer coverage. In his decision, Judge H. Russel Holland writes:
“NMFS must prepare a supplemental EA
 [Environmental Assessment] that addresses the question of when data being gathered by the restructured Observer Program ceases to be reliable, or of high quality, because the rate of observer cove
rage is too low.”
 
Read the Order:
The lawsuit challenging the restructured observer program was brought by The Boat Company, a not-for-
 profit corporation whose mission to protect and conserve Alaska’s fisheries is
supported by a sport fishing and ecotourism operation based in Sitka and Juneau, Alaska.
“Today's decision is a
n important step toward conservation of salmon and halibut resources and a healthier ecosystem,
 said
Captain Joel Hanson, Director of Conservation Programs at The Boat Company
. “Sound fisheries management requires col
lecting the best available scientific information, and that means full observer coverage on the high-volume trawlers that account for
the most catch and bycatch.”
 
As a result of this decision, NMFS must reassess the observer program to ensure that it provides the reliable data necessary to combat the serious problem of salmon and halibut bycatch.
said
Colin O’Brien, Attorney for
 Earthjustice
.

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