This NOAA Fisheries Bulletin is provided as a courtesy:

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

ISSUE DATE: May 5, 2020                                                                                     FB20-031

CONTACT: Southeast Fisheries Science Center: 1-800-858-0624

Update to the HMS, South Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico Fisheries on Observer Coverage


Dear Federal Permit Holders, Partners, and Stakeholders,

This is a reminder that the current waiver for observer coverage in the fisheries listed below expires at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 4, 2020. Beginning at 12:00 a.m. on May 5th, observer coverage will again be required per existing regulations.

  • South Atlantic Penaeid Shrimp
  • South Atlantic Rock Shrimp
  • South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper
  • Southeast Gillnet
  • Gulf of Mexico Commercial Reef Fish
  • Gulf of Mexico Shrimp
  • Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Pelagic Longline
  • Shark Bottom Longline (Atlantic HMS)
  • Shark Gillnet (Atlantic HMS)


As part of the NOAA Fisheries’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and consistent with the authority provided under an emergency rule signed on March 24, 2020 (, the agency temporarily waived the requirement for commercial fishing vessels in the fisheries above to carry a fishery observer. The waiver is in effect from April 21, 2020, through May 4, 2020.

NOAA Fisheries will continue to monitor and evaluate this situation. As we have done in other parts of the country, we will use this time to work with the observer service provider to implement adjustments to the logistics of deploying observers, ensuring qualified observers are available as soon as safely possible.

Observers are an essential component of commercial fishing operations and provide critical information that is necessary to keep fisheries open and to provide sustainable seafood to our nation during this time. We will continue to monitor all local public health notifications, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for updates. We are committed to protecting the public health and ensuring the safety of fishermen, observers, and others, while fulfilling our mission to maintain our nation’s seafood supply and conserving marine life.

For questions about observer programs, contact the Southeast Fisheries Science Center at (305) 361-4200 or the phone numbers included in your selection notification. For other questions related to Atlantic HMS fisheries, contact (301) 427-8503.



Clay E. Porch, Ph.D.

Director, Southeast Fisheries Science Center