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Final Environmental Assessment/Regulatory Impact Review/ Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for a Regulatory Amendment to Extend the Program for Observer Procurement and Deployment in the North Pacific
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    The regulations that authorize and implement the North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program (observer program) expire December 31, 2007. The existing program design is driven by coverage levels based on vessel size and processing volume that, for the most part, have been fixed in Federal regulation since 1990. Vessels and processors currently contract directly with observer companies to receive observer services to meet the coverage levels in regulation. This regulatory analysis evaluates five alternatives. In addition to the no action alternative which would allow the program to expire after 2007 (Alternative 1) and extension of the existing program (Alternative 2), three alternatives (Alternatives 3 – 5) are considered to restructure the funding and deployment mechanism of the observer program. All three restructuring alternatives would change the existing service delivery model for some portion of the North Pacific groundfish and halibut fisheries, such that NMFS would contract directly with observer providers for observer coverage, supported by a broad-based user fee and/or direct Federal funding, as available. Alternatives 3 – 5 differ by the scope of the vessels and processors included in the new program and the type of fee assessed.
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