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Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Observer Programs' Information That Can Be Gathered Only Through Questions

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.




The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.


Written comments must be submitted on or before May 4, 2009.


Direct all written comments to Diana Hynek, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 7845, 14th and Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet at

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Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to Joe Terry, (858) 546-7197, ( or Samantha Brooke, (301) 713-2367,

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I. Abstract

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) deploys fishery observers on United States commercial fishing vessels and to fish processing plants in order to collect biological and economic data. NMFS has at least one observer program in each of its six Regions. These observer programs provide the only reliable or most effective method for obtaining information that is critical for the conservation and management of living marine resources. Observer programs primarily obtain information through direct observations by employees or agents of NMFS; and such observations are not subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). However, observer programs also collect the following information that requires clearance under the PRA: (1) Standardized questions of fishing vessel captains/crew or fish processing plant managers/staff, which include gear and Start Printed Page 9388performance questions, safety questions, and trip costs, crew size and other economic questions; (2) questions asked by observer program staff/contractors to plan observer deployments; (3) forms that are completed by observers and that fishing vessel captains are asked to review and sign; (4) questionnaires to evaluate observer performance; and (5) a form to certify that a fisherman is the permit holder when requesting observer data from the observer on the vessel. NMFS has received PRA clearances for the second and fourth types of collections for some observer programs (OMB Control Numbers 0648-0423 and 0648-0202 for deployment questions and 0648-0550 and 0648-0536 for observer evaluations); those burden hours are now included in this national, comprehensive PRA submission.

The information collected will be used to: (1) Monitor catch and bycatch in federally-managed commercial fisheries; (2) understand the population status and trends of fish stocks and protected species, as well as the interactions between them; (3) determine the quantity and distribution of net benefits derived from living marine resources; (4) predict the biological, ecological, and economic impacts of existing management action and proposed management options; and (5) ensure that the observer programs can safely and efficiently collect the information required for the previous four uses. In particular, these biological and economic data collection programs contribute to legally mandated analyses required under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), Executive Order 12866 (EO 12866), as well as a variety of state statutes. The confidentiality of the data will be protected as required by law.

II. Method of Collection

The surveys conducted by NMFS observers while they are deployed to a vessel to observe a particular fishing trip will be asked in-person to the captain, crew and/or owner (if onboard the vessel) during the course of the observed trip. Economic information not available during the trip may be requested via a mail follow-up survey. The questions asked by the observer program staff or contractor to plan observer deployments are typically asked via telephone or mailed survey. The feedback questionnaires to evaluate observer performance will be mailed to the vessel owners or captains.

III. Data

OMB Control Number: None.

Form Number: None.

Type of Review: Regular submission.

Affected Public: Business or other for-profit organizations.

Estimated Number of Respondents: 3,900.

Estimated Time per Response: 51 minutes. Information will be collected for observed fishing trips and deployments to fish processing plants; therefore, there will be multiple responses for some respondents.

Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 12,800.

Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $1,500.

IV. Request for Comments

Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection; they also will become a matter of public record.

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Dated: February 26, 2009.

Gwellnar Banks,

Management Analyst, Office of the Chief Information Officer.

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[FR Doc. E9-4522 Filed 3-3-09; 8:45 am]