Council seeks funds to expand observer program

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is asking the Obama administration to provide $3.8 million to launch an expanded fisheries observer program.

Here's the letter requesting the money.

Fishery observers — people who ride aboard boats to monitor catch and bycatch — already are used extensively off Alaska, with industry paying most of the cost. The observers provide data vital for managing pollock, cod and other fisheries.

The council wants to fill in gaps in the program by expanding observer coverage to more boats, including halibut vessels and small trawlers.

The $3.8 million is needed as a one-time subsidy to put the expanded observer program into place faster, the council letter explains.