Establish National Minimum Insurance Standard for National Marine Fisheries Service Programs That Permit or Approve Observer Providers, 66259-66268 [2021-25367]

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[FR Doc. 2021–24943 Filed 11–19–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Nov 19, 2021 Jkt 256001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Parts 600, 648, 660, and 679 [Docket No. 211110–0228] RIN 0648–BJ33 Establish National Minimum Insurance Standard for National Marine Fisheries Service Programs That Permit or Approve Observer Providers National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: NMFS is proposing to establish a uniform, nationally consistent minimum insurance standard that would apply in regional regulatory programs that authorize an observer provider to deploy a person in any mandatory or voluntary observer program and that specify responsibilities of authorized providers. NMFS has concluded that this action is necessary to clarify the types of insurance that are appropriate to address the financial risks that observer coverage presents in any federally managed fishery that is subject to observer coverage. The proposed standard would establish a nationally consistent suite of insurance coverages that an observer provider seeking authorization, or that has been authorized, must have to mitigate the financial risks associated with providing observer services; specifically observer deployments to fishing vessels or shoreside locations such as processing facilities, and those that arise with training personnel for these deployments. Through compliance with this minimum standard, observer providers would be properly insured, thereby mitigating the financial risks that fishing vessels, first receivers, and shoreside processors have when complying with observer coverage requirements. This proposed rule would also revise regional observer program regulations to reference the newly established national minimum insurance standard, but existing regional observer program regulatory procedures that specify how an observer provider demonstrates compliance with insurance requirements would not be modified. SUMMARY: Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before January 21, 2022. DATES: PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 66259 You may submit comments on this document, identified by FDMS Docket Number NOAA–NMFS–2019– 0142 by either of the following methods: Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to https://www.regulations.gov and enter NOAA–NMFS–2019–0142 in the Search box. Click on the ‘‘Comment’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. Mail: Submit written comments to Dennis Hansford, 1315 East West Highway, Room 12506, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Fax: (301) 713–4137; Attn: Dennis Hansford. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information should be directed to Dennis Hansford, 301–427–8136 or dennis.hansford@ noaa.gov. ADDRESSES: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., establishes a national program for conservation and management of fishery resources within the United States Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). See id. 1801(a)(6), 1811(a). NMFS, acting under authority delegated from the Secretary of Commerce, is responsible for managing fisheries under the MSA, in conjunction with eight regional fishery management councils (Councils) established under the Act. See id. 1852(a). Each Council has authority to develop fishery management plans (FMPs) for fisheries in a specific geographical area and to deem proposed regulations that are necessary for plan implementation. See id. 1852(a), (c). Collection of information on fishing and fish processing, such as type and quantity of fishing gear used, catch in numbers of fish or weight thereof, fishing locations, and biological E:\FR\FM\22NOP1.SGM 22NOP1 jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 66260 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 222 / Monday, November 22, 2021 / Proposed Rules information, are critical to effective fishery management. See id. 1853(a)(5). To obtain this information, the MSA authorizes, among other things, that an FMP may require that one or more observers be carried on board a vessel of the United States engaged in fishing for species that are subject to the plan, for the purpose of collecting data necessary for the conservation and management of the fishery. See id. 1853(b)(8). The MSA defines the term ‘‘observer’’ as any person required or authorized to be carried on a vessel for conservation and management purposes by regulations or permits under this Act. See id. 1802(31). This definition would thus cover persons referred to in FMPs and regulations as ‘‘observers’’ as well as ‘‘catch-monitors’’ or ‘‘at-sea monitors.’’ In 2018, 54 fisheries subject to management under an FMP were monitored by observer programs. To carry out required observer coverage, NMFS administers 14 observer programs (referred to as NMFS Regional Observer Programs or NMFS Observer Programs) that operate in the agency’s five regions. These programs train and deploy observers, establish information collection protocols, establish risk mitigations, and debrief observers following deployment to provide quality control on information that observers collect. While observers most frequently are deployed under the MSA to collect information on vessels that are catching, taking, or harvesting fish or attempting to do so, observers also are deployed to motherships, first receivers, and shoreside processing facilities. NMFS’ regional observer programs deploy catch-monitors and at-sea monitors to collect vessel catch or bycatch information and to ensure accurate catch accounting, reduce uncertainty of bycatch estimates, provide information for fishery assessments, or address other fishery information purposes. In this proposed rule, the term ‘‘observer’’ refers to a person who is deployed as an observer, a catch or at-sea monitor on a fishing vessel or mothership, or as an observer deployed to a shoreside first receiver location or processing facility. Also, in the preamble of this proposed rule, NMFS refers to a company that provides observer or catch monitor or at-sea monitor services as an ‘‘observer provider.’’ At present, all at-sea and shoreside observer deployments for NMFS observer programs are staffed by observer providers. These companies provide observer staffing support under two distinct models: (1) Direct service, where the NMFS observer program contracts with an observer provider and oversees the provider’s services based VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Nov 19, 2021 Jkt 256001 on the terms of the contract; and (2) industry-funded service, where the observer provider provides services directly to a vessel or a fleet of vessels, and a NMFS regional observer program oversees the provision of those services based on requirements set forth in NMFS regulations. In the North Pacific and most West Coast programs, an observer provider must be permitted under the programs’ regulations and satisfy other responsibilities specified in regulations in order to provide services in either the direct contract model or industryfunded model. The permitting and regulatory responsibilities for the North Pacific Observer Program are codified at 50 CFR 679.52, while those for West Coast programs are codified at 50 CFR 660.16 (Groundfish observer program), 50 CFR 660.17 (Catch monitor program), 50 CFR 660.18 (Observer and catch monitor provider permits and endorsements), 50 CFR 660.140 (Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program), 50 CFR 660.150 (Mothership Cooperative Program), and 50 CFR 660.160 (Catcher Processor Cooperative Program). In the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region an observer provider must be approved to provide services in the At-sea sampler/observer coverage (formally entitled Monitoring coverage) codified at 50 CFR 648.11(h) or at-sea monitoring services in the Northeast Multispecies sector program codified at 50 CFR 648.87(b)(4). The Southeast, Southwest, and Pacific Islands programs use only the direct contract model, and do not have regulations to authorize a company to deploy observers in their programs through an approval or permit process. Nor do these programs have regulations that specify observer provider responsibilities. Further information about NMFS’ regional observer programs is available at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/fisheryobservers. Observer Coverage and Financial Risks The 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries ranks commercial fishing as one of the most dangerous occupations. Because most observers are deployed to fishing vessels or motherships, observers’ risk of occupational injury is on par with that of commercial fishermen. All observer deployments, whether at-sea or shoreside, involve exposure to natural elements, physical labor, and proximity to mechanical equipment. Given the work environment in which observers are deployed and the duties they perform, observer coverage presents PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 heightened financial risks for observer employers and the fishing vessels and shoreside processors that are subject to observer coverage. Additionally, observer training for deployments occurs in the same environment and involves simulation of the same duties with the same equipment as an actual deployment. Thus, the financial risks presented in training observers for deployments are the same as those presented by actual deployments. Following is a summary of the financial risks presented by observer coverage for observers; owners of vessels, first receivers, and shoreside processing facilities subject to coverage; and observer providers. 1. Observers incur risks associated with occupational injury resulting in inability to work. 2. Vessel owners, first receivers, and shoreside processors incur risks from observer claims for compensation for incidents arising out of deployment, e.g., occupational injury. 3. Observer employers incur risks from observer compensation claims for occupational injury, and from vessel/ shoreside processor owner claims for damages resulting from observer negligence. Private insurance coverages and state workers’ compensation programs are traditional mechanisms to address the financial risks that observer deployments present. However, the nuances of maritime law, combined with the unique role that observers have in monitoring fishing activities, have complicated efforts to address the financial risks of observer deployment, whether through private insurance or statutory compensation programs. Since 1994, Councils and NMFS have taken various actions to address insurance issues for observer providers. In regions that do not have regulatory requirements, insurance requirements are included as part of the contracts between NMFS and the observer providers for observer coverage. These insurance requirements—whether based in regulations or contracts—differ across regions. At present, the types of insurance policies that observer providers are required to have, either by regulation or by contract, include the following: • Maritime liability to cover seamen’s claims under the Merchant Marine Act (Jones Act) and General Maritime Law; • U.S. Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act; • State Workers’ Compensation; • Contractual General Liability; • Marine General Liability; • Commercial General Liability; • Marine Employers Liability; and E:\FR\FM\22NOP1.SGM 22NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 222 / Monday, November 22, 2021 / Proposed Rules • Excess or Umbrella Coverage. Contract-based insurance requirements vary but generally consist of Marine General Liability, Marine Employers Liability, and State Workers’ Compensation policies. Regulatory-based insurance requirements currently exist for observer providers that are permitted under the North Pacific Observer Program (50 CFR 679.52(b)(11)(vi)), the West Coast Catch Monitor Program (50 CFR 660.17(f)(1)(vii)(B)), the West Coast Shoreside IFQ Program (50 CFR 660.140(h)(5)(xi)(C)), and the West Coast Mothership Cooperative Program (50 CFR 660.150(j)(4)(xi)(B)(3)). In each of these programs, a company permitted to deploy observers must annually provide copies of certificates of insurance that name the applicable program as the certificate holder and that verify that the company has the insurance specified in the applicable regulation. The Northeast at-sea sampler/observer coverage program insurance requirements at 50 CFR 648.11(h)(3)(vii) are included as elements of an approved program provider application. In other words, an observer provider must demonstrate evidence that it holds the insurance specified in the regulation as part of its application to become an approved provider. Likewise, as part of an application to be an approved services provider in the Northeast Multispecies sector at-sea monitoring program, a company must demonstrate that it holds insurance that NMFS deems adequate (see 50 CFR 648.87(b)(4)(i)(G)). In addition, Congress addressed compensation for observer occupational risks through the 1996 Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA). Public Law 104– 297 (Oct. 11, 1996). That statute amended the MSA to deem observers to be Federal employees for purposes of Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) while deployed on a vessel under the MSA or the Marine Mammal Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 1881b(c)). The extension of FECA coverage to observers deployed at-sea filled a gap in coverage for observer occupational injuries that occur at-sea. NMFS Reevaluation of Observer Provider Insurance Requirements Beginning in 2014, NMFS initiated a reevaluation of regional observer provider insurance requirements. This effort was prompted by a letter from Alaskan Observers, Inc. (AOI) to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC). In this letter, AOI provided information supporting its position that some of the observer provider insurance requirements under the North Pacific Observer Program are excessive or inapplicable, and that there are inconsistent insurance requirements among regional observer programs. To address these issues, AOI proposed a series of amendments to the North Pacific Observer Program regulations. In a 2015 letter to the NPFMC Executive Director (2015 NPFMC Letter), NMFS agreed with AOI’s position that certain insurance requirements under the North Pacific Observer Program are unnecessary; specifically, coverage for claims under the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (also known as the Jones Act), General Maritime Law (GML), and the U.S. Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA). To make a claim under the Jones Act, and certain claims under GML, a person must have status as a ‘‘seaman’’.1 Courts in a number of jurisdictions have held that observers do not qualify as seamen and therefore have dismissed Jones Act claims filed by observers and those filed under GML that require such status. In the case of the LHWCA, a person must be within the scope of an employee for purposes of the LHWCA, which generally covers longshore workers, ship-repairers, harbor construction workers and other traditional maritime labor performed shoreside. Thus, by definition, the LHWCA does not apply to observers when they are deployed atsea. As part of NMFS’ response to the NPFMC, it noted that the NPFMC could consider revising the North Pacific Observer Program regulations to require a Marine General Liability policy and other forms of insurance that may better address certain financial risks that observer companies have with their operations. Subsequent to issuing the 2015 NPFMC Letter, NMFS decided to 66261 reevaluate observer provider insurance requirements across all regional observer programs, rather than focus solely on revisions to the North Pacific Observer Program regulations. This expanded, national effort made sense because the Jones Act, GML, and LHWCA requirements deemed unnecessary in that program also apply in the West Coast programs. In addition, a broader national evaluation would enable NMFS to address the lack of consistency on insurance requirements among regional observer programs. In 2016, NMFS held an Observer Provider Insurance Workshop to discuss the efficiency of observer provider insurance requirements and compensation for observer occupational injuries. This workshop was attended by insurance experts, observer providers, observers, and representatives from other Federal agencies. Subsequent to the workshop, NMFS published an Observer Provider Insurance Workshop Technical Report (Tech Report), available at http://spo.nmfs.noaa.gov/ tech-memos, which summarized the Workshop’s proceedings and identified actions that NMFS could take to reform observer provider insurance requirements and facilitate compensation for observer occupational injuries. As detailed in the Tech Report and the 2015 NPFMC Letter, insurance coverages that observer providers are required to have for claims under the Jones Act and GML are inapplicable to observers as they lack seamen status or, in the case of the LHWCA, the coverage requirement is overly broad as it does not apply to observers who are deployed at-sea. In addition, NMFS has learned that, while FECA does provide coverage for observer at-sea injuries, the compensation formula under FECA does not take into consideration overtime pay. Observers typically work 12–16 hour shifts to correspond with fishing vessel crew shifts, so they often do not receive full compensation for occupational injury claims under FECA. NMFS’ findings based on its national reevaluation of regional observer program insurance requirements are illustrated in the following tables. jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 TABLE 1—APPLICABILITY OF REMEDIAL AUTHORITIES TO OBSERVERS Location of observer Jones Act seamen’s claims GML seamen’s claims LHWCA FECA On Land ................ Not applicable ...... Not Applicable ...... Applicable ............. Not Applicable ................. 1 To qualify for seaman status, a person must (1) have a more or less permanent connection with (2) a vessel in navigation and (3) the capacity in which VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Nov 19, 2021 Jkt 256001 the person is employed or the duties which he or she performs must contribute to the function of the vessel, the accomplishment of its mission or its PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 State workers’ compensation Applicable. operation or welfare in terms of its maintenance during its movement or during anchorage for its future trips. E:\FR\FM\22NOP1.SGM 22NOP1 66262 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 222 / Monday, November 22, 2021 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1—APPLICABILITY OF REMEDIAL AUTHORITIES TO OBSERVERS—Continued Location of observer Jones Act seamen’s claims GML seamen’s claims LHWCA At-Sea ................... Not Applicable ...... Not Applicable ...... Not Applicable ...... FECA Applicable per MSA 403(c). State workers’ compensation Applicable, but may be limited to injuries sustained within state jurisdiction. TABLE 2—COMPARISON OF REGIONAL OBSERVER PROGRAM INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS Program Jones Act/GML seamen’s claims coverage LHWCA State Worker’s Compensation (WC) Marine Employer’s Liability (MEL) North Pacific .......... Northeast ............... Not required ...................... Required $1 million minimum coverage. Required $1 million minimum coverage. Not required ...................... Must meet requirements within state of operation. Must meet requirements within state of operation. Required—$5 million combined minimum for MEL and WC. Not required ...................... West Coast ............ Required $1 million minimum coverage. Not required ...................... To address these issues, the Tech Report recommended that NMFS explore replacing the divergent regional insurance requirements with a consistent, nationally applicable minimum insurance standard. Considering the highly technical nature of maritime insurance and insurance markets in general, the Tech Report recommended that NMFS first gather more information on the types of insurance and minimum dollar coverage amounts for the financial risks that observer coverage presents. To do so, NMFS published a Request for Information (RFI) on National Reform of Regional Observer Provider Insurance Requirements (83 FR 32829, July 16, 2018). In this RFI, NMFS asked observer providers, maritime insurance experts, observers, and the public at large for information on the types of insurance and associated minimum dollar amounts that would be appropriate to address observer coverage financial risks across all regional programs and in the different contexts in which observers are deployed, i.e., at-sea and shoreside. jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Minimum Insurance Standard for Observer Providers NMFS proposes requiring a specific suite of insurance policies, the elements of which are described below. The proposed standard is based on an intensive, multiyear effort to identify to identify policies and associated coverage amounts that would best address the financial risks of observer provider operations. Specifically, to develop the proposed minimum insurance standard, NMFS relied on the analysis and conclusions set forth in the 2015 NPFMC Letter, and public input that NMFS obtained through the 2016 Workshop and the 2018 RFI. Additionally, to gain further insight on the fishing industry and observer VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Nov 19, 2021 Jkt 256001 providers, NMFS coordinated with the regional FMCs in the North Pacific, West Coast, and New England and conducted lengthy informal phone interviews with each observer provider that operates an industry-funded program in those regions. NMFS then reached out to insurance brokers who offer specialized products for maritime employers, including observer providers. Through these extensive outreach efforts, and its own internal research and analysis, NMFS identified only one suite of insurance policies that would address the financial risks of observer provider operations. NMFS does not believe there is any other information available upon which it could reach a different conclusion. NMFS specifically notes that the insurance standard reflects two points that it made in the 2015 NPFMC Letter. First, this standard does not include coverages for seamen’s claims under the Jones Act and those made under GML because observers do not have seamen’s status under those authorities. Second, the standard clarifies that the LHWCA applies to observers only when they perform duties shoreside because that authority applies only to shoreside incidents. Based on input from maritime insurance experts, the requirement to obtain LHWCA coverage would apply only in those jurisdictions that require it. NMFS believes that this suite of insurance policy coverages and associated coverage amounts would set a nationally consistent minimum level of insurance that is appropriate to address the financial risks that observer providers have in providing observer services. NMFS believes this suite of insurance policy coverages would help to mitigate the financial risks that observer deployments present for fishing vessels, first receivers, and shoreside processors that are subject to PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Not required ...................... Required—$5 million combined minimum for MEL and WC. Commercial General Liability (CGL) Required—no minimum established. Required—no minimum established. Not required. coverage. Additionally, this proposed minimum insurance standard would provide observers who are injured during their period of employment as an observer with appropriate compensation safeguards. Elements of Proposed Minimum Insurance Standard Marine General Liability (MGL) Policy at $1 Million for Each Occurrence This policy would cover an observer provider for bodily injury and property damage liability caused by their observers’ conduct while deployed. By ensuring that an observer provider is covered for liability risks arising from the deployment of its observers, an MGL policy would mitigate financial risks for vessel owners and shoreside processors that are subject to observer monitoring. Based on input from marine insurance experts obtained through the RFI, NMFS found that an MGL policy would provide coverage for a range of marine liability exposures and thus is preferable to a CGL policy presently required under the North Pacific regulations and the West Coast regulations. NMFS proposes coverage at $1 million per occurrence, as recommended by input from marine insurance experts. In addition, unlike a CGL policy, an MGL policy can be enhanced with an endorsement that extends protection to vessel or shoreside processor owners from legal actions filed by an observer. That endorsement, however, is discretionary and not required as part of the proposed minimum insurance standard. NMFS believes the risks of observer-initiated legal actions against parties other than their employer are low, and any risks of such actions should be addressed through a Marine Employer’s Liability policy, discussed below. Nonetheless, NMFS specifically requests comment on whether an MGL E:\FR\FM\22NOP1.SGM 22NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 222 / Monday, November 22, 2021 / Proposed Rules U.S. Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) Coverage at Statutory Limits endorsement for legal actions brought against a vessel owner or shoreside processor should be an element of the minimum insurance standard. Marine Employer’s Liability (MEL) Policy With a Death on the High Seas Act Endorsement at $1 Million for Each Occurrence An MEL policy is appropriate for observer providers to cover certain claims that an observer can make for incidents that occur at-sea. These claims include General Maritime Law (GML) remedies of Unseaworthiness, Wrongful Death, Transportation, Wages, Maintenance and Cure, and claims under the Death on the High Seas Act. An MEL policy would also cover a seaman’s negligence lawsuit filed by an observer under the Jones Act. As explained above, NMFS 2015 NPFMC Letter reflected the consensus view among Federal courts that observers are not seaman for purposes of the Jones Act. Nonetheless, this does not preclude an observer from filing a Jones Act claim. An MEL policy would cover an observer provider’s costs defending against a Jones Act claim, and a vessel owner’s defense costs if named as a party to the Jones Act action. NMFS proposes that an MEL policy provide coverage at $1 million per occurrence. This amount is based on recommended input from marine insurance experts obtained through the 2018 RFI. Because an MEL policy covers claims for at-sea incidents, the proposed minimum standard provides that the MEL policy be required only for approved or permitted observer providers that deploy observers at-sea. State Workers’ Compensation Policy A state workers’ compensation policy would cover injuries that an observer sustains while deployed shoreside. The proposed minimum insurance standard would include this policy as required by the state(s) in which a company deploys observers. Coverage for LHWCA claims would provide insurance for injuries that an observer sustains while deployed shoreside. While the LHWCA does not apply to observers when they are at-sea, claims under the LHWCA for injuries sustained shoreside have been paid in some jurisdictions. The LHWCA compensation formula yields better benefits for observers than coverage that is available under state workers’ compensation. Thus, it is important to include LHWCA coverage in the insurance standard, given that observers deployed as dockside monitors or to shoreside facilities perform all of their duties shoreside. In addition, observers deployed at-sea begin their deployments by traveling to the point of embarkation on land and perform some duties shoreside prior to embarking. The proposed minimum insurance standard includes LHWCA coverage as a stand-alone policy, or as an endorsement to a company’s state workers’ compensation policy. Under the proposed minimum standard, either a stand-alone policy or a policy endorsement for LHWCA coverage would be required only if LHWCA coverage is required in a state where the company deploys observers. If required under state law, NMFS proposes that the LHWCA policy or policy endorsement provide coverage at the LHWCA’s claim limits. Excess or Umbrella Coverage Over the MGL Policy or MEL Policy Limits of Not Less Than $2 Million To insure against events that may exceed the single event limits under an MGL policy or an MEL policy, NMFS has included in the minimum standard excess or umbrella coverage at not less than $2 million. 66263 Scope of Coverage The primary purpose of all elements of the proposed minimum insurance standard is to address the specific financial risks presented by the full scope of an observer’s employment to include deployment, which includes travel to the vessel or facility to be observed, and training for deployments. Therefore, under the proposed minimum standard, insurance must extend to observer injury, liability, and accidental death during their period of employment, to include training. Proposed Action NMFS proposes that this suite of required insurance policy coverage and associated coverage amounts be codified at 50 CFR 600.678 as a minimum national standard for NMFS regional observer programs that permit or otherwise approve an observer provider to deploy a person in any mandatory or voluntary observer program and that specify authorized provider responsibilities. NMFS further proposes that the current insurance requirements for observer providers specified in the following regional regulations be removed and replaced with a reference to the proposed minimum insurance standard (50 CFR 600.678): • North Pacific Æ North Pacific Observer Program, 50 CFR 679.52(b)(11)(vi); • West Coast Æ West Coast Catch Monitor Program, 50 CFR 660.17(f)(1)(vii)(B); Æ West Coast Shore Side IFQ Program, 50 CFR 660.140(h)(5)(xi)(C); Æ West Coast Mothership Cooperative Program, 50 CFR 660.150(j)(4)(xi)(B)(3); • Northeast Æ Northeast at-sea sampler/observer coverage program, 50 CFR 648.11(h)(3)(vii); and Æ Northeast Multispecies sector at-sea monitoring program, 50 CFR 648.87(b)(4)(i)(G). TABLE 3—REGIONAL PROGRAM INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS THAT WOULD RESULT FROM THE PROPOSED ACTION jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Program North Pacific Current. North Pacific Proposed Rule. West Coast Current. Jones Act/ GML seamen’s clams coverage Required $1 million coverage. Not required. Not required. VerDate Sep<11>2014 State Worker’s Compensation Coverage (WC) Commercial General Liability (CGL) Marine General Liability (MGL) Marine Employer’s Liability (MEL) Required $1 million coverage. Must meet requirements within state of operation. Required—no minimum established. Not required ............ Not required ............ Not required. $1 million per occurrence coverage if required under applicable state law. Required $1 million coverage. No change ............... Not required ............ Required $1 million per occurrence. Required $1 million per occurrence. Required $2 million. Must meet requirements within state of operation. Required—no minimum coverage established. Not required ............ Not required ............ Not required. LHWCA 19:15 Nov 19, 2021 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\22NOP1.SGM 22NOP1 Excess or Umbrella Coverage 66264 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 222 / Monday, November 22, 2021 / Proposed Rules TABLE 3—REGIONAL PROGRAM INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS THAT WOULD RESULT FROM THE PROPOSED ACTION— Continued jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Program Jones Act/ GML seamen’s clams coverage West Coast Proposed rule. No change. Northeast Current. Not required. Northeast Proposed rule. No change. State Worker’s Compensation Coverage (WC) Commercial General Liability (CGL) No change ............... Not required ............ Required $5 million combined minimum coverage for MEL and WC. Must meet requirements within state of operation. LHWCA $1 million per occurrence coverage if required under applicable state law. Not required ............ $1 million per occurrence coverage if required under applicable state law. Each of these regional regulatory programs already include procedures to monitor and confirm observer provider compliance with current insurance requirements. This action would not change these procedures, and they would apply to monitor and confirm observer provider compliance with the proposed minimum standard. Compliance with a minimum standard that is made final through a rulemaking would be required during the next insurance certification for the relevant program, or six months after promulgation of the final rule, whichever is later. We expect that this will provide sufficient time for providers to work with their insurance broker on getting the appropriate coverages. The current regulations for the West Coast Catcher Processor Program (50 CFR 660.160) are unclear on whether they include insurance requirements for permitted observer providers. NMFS takes this opportunity clarify that those regulations do include insurance requirements. Therefore, as with other programs that have insurance requirements, this proposed rule would add a reference to the minimum insurance standard to the regulatory provisions regarding responsibilities for permitted observer providers that deploy observers in this program and procedures for demonstrating compliance with those standard. It would also require that an observer provider that is permitted to deploy observers in the West Coast Catcher Processor Program would demonstrate compliance with the minimum insurance standard by submitting copies of ‘‘certificates of insurance,’’ which name the Northwest Fisheries Science Center Observer Program manager as the ‘‘certificate holder,’’ to the Observer Program Office by February 1 of each year. In addition, these certificates of VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:15 Nov 19, 2021 Jkt 256001 Marine General Liability (MGL) Marine Employer’s Liability (MEL) Excess or Umbrella Coverage Required $1 million per occurrence. Required $1 million per occurrence. Required $2 million. Not required ............ Not required ............ Not required. No change ............... Required $1 million per occurrence. Required $5 million combined minimum coverage for MEL and WC. Required $1 million per occurrence. insurance must verify all coverage provisions specified in the national minimum insurance standard regulations, and state that the insurance company will notify the certificate holder if insurance coverage is changed or canceled. This procedure for demonstrating compliance with insurance requirements is the same as that which applies in other West Coast observer programs that currently specify insurance requirements for permitted observer providers and this proposed rule clarifies that it also applies in the West Coast Catcher Processor Program. The proposed minimum national insurance standard would promote effective operation of regional observer programs by ensuring that observer providers have a consistent suite of insurance policy coverages that properly addresses the financial risks of their operations, regardless of the fishery observed or the region in which the provider operates. For these reasons, NMFS has concluded that this action is necessary to carry out FMP monitoring requirements performed by observers, and, as such, is authorized under MSA 305(d), 16 U.S.C. 1855(d). As stated above, the Southeast, Southwest, and Pacific Islands observer programs are currently serviced only under the direct contract model and do not have regulations for authorizing a company to deploy observers in their programs, or regulations that specify observer provider responsibilities. For these programs, NMFS intends to require the national minimum insurance standard (50 CFR 600.678), as finalized, as a condition of direct contracts for observer provider services. This would be carried out through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s, Acquisitions and Grants Office Policy Manual and not as a separate rulemaking. PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Required $2 million. Given the technical nature of insurance policies that are applicable to observer programs, NMFS seeks detailed public comments on whether each type of insurance required in the proposed minimum national insurance standard, and associated policy coverage amounts, adequately addresses observer deployment risks for vessels, observer providers, and observers. NMFS emphasizes that, in proposing minimum insurance standard, NMFS is establishing a floor, not a ceiling, for the appropriate insurance policy types and levels of associated insurance policy coverage amounts to address the financial risks of observer deployment. This proposed rule would not prevent an observer provider from choosing to have insurance or coverage amounts that exceed the proposed minimum insurance standard. Nor would this proposed rule preclude a region from initiating a separate and distinct rulemaking that requires insurance types or coverage amounts beyond that which is provided under the proposed minimum standard in this proposed rule. Private Insurance Options To Address Gap in FECA Coverage NMFS takes this opportunity to address other information obtained through the 2018 RFI that it considered when developing the proposed minimum insurance standard. In the 2018 RFI, NMFS presented a series of questions about FECA coverage that applies to observers when deployed atsea under the MSA. Information obtained through the 2018 RFI showed that there is a gap in FECA coverage; specifically FECA wage-loss benefits do not include consideration of overtime pay. One observer provider reported that they were able to address that gap by supplementing their MEL policy to provide their observers with additional E:\FR\FM\22NOP1.SGM 22NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 222 / Monday, November 22, 2021 / Proposed Rules benefits. This form of an MEL policy, however, is customized to the operations of that provider and is not a policy that could form the basis of a policy that all providers must have. Therefore, NMFS decided not to require this form of an MEL policy in the proposed national insurance standard. However, recognizing the implications of the gaps in FECA coverage for observers, NMFS encourages observer providers to consider obtaining this form of an MEL policy or a separate insurance policy that would provide observers with compensation that is not provided under FECA. jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Classification NMFS issues this proposed rule pursuant to Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) section 305(d), which provides the Secretary of Commerce with general responsibility to carry out any FMP or FMP amendment, and to promulgate regulations as may be necessary to discharge such responsibility (16 U.S.C. 1855(d)). The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the MSA and other applicable laws, subject to further consideration after public comment. NEPA Determination NOAA’s Policy and Procedures for Compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Related Authorities (NOAA Administrative Order 216–6A and Companion Manual for NAO 216–6A) establishes that all NOAA major Federal actions be reviewed with respect to environmental consequences on the human environment. NOAA Administrative Order 216–6A and Companion Manual for NAO 216–6A were used to examine this proposed rule for its potential to impact the quality of the human environment and it concluded that it would not have a significant adverse effect, individually or cumulatively, on the human environment and does not involve any extraordinary circumstances listed in the Companion Manual for NAO 216– 6A. Further, NMFS determined that this proposed rule may appropriately be categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare either an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement in accordance with the categorical exclusion described in the Companion Manual for NAO 216–6A, G7, which applies to preparation of policy directives, rules, regulations, and guidelines of an administrative, financial, legal, technical, or procedural VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Nov 19, 2021 Jkt 256001 nature, or for which the environmental effects are too broad, speculative or conjectural to lend themselves to meaningful analysis and will be subject later to the NEPA process, either collectively or on a case-by-case basis. Executive Order 12866 This proposed rule has been determined to be significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. Regional regulatory programs that authorize an observer provider to deploy a person in any mandatory or voluntary observer program and that specify responsibilities of authorized providers already include insurance requirements. Thus, to operate in these programs, observer providers already must demonstrate that they have the insurance specified in the applicable regulations. Due to the nuances of maritime law and the unique nature of observer deployments, regions have adopted differing insurance requirements that are in some cases overly burdensome and inefficient. This action would provide a national standard that clarifies the types and amounts of insurance and associated coverage amounts that best address the financial risks of observer provider operations regardless of the fishery or region in which an observer provider operates. In some cases, compliance with the proposed national insurance standard would require observer providers to have insurance that is different from what they are required to have under current regulations. While this proposed action would change the suite of insurance that observer providers are required to have, it does not make substantive increases to the insurance that is required in current regional programs. In fact, the proposed action makes clarifications that would result in observer providers not being required to have coverages for seaman’s claims under the Jones Act and General Maritime Law. For these reasons, we do not expect this action to result in a significant increase in the premiums that observer providers currently pay. In fact, the action could result in lower premiums because it would establish a national standard that does not include certain coverages that are required under current regulations. Additionally, the increased efficiency of a national standard may bring about lower premiums. NMFS invites public commenters to provide information that could inform these assumptions. Paperwork Reduction Act This action does not contain a change to a collection-of-information PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 66265 requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act. NMFS’ regional observer program regulations that authorize observer providers or that specify authorized provider responsibilities already include procedures for demonstrating compliance with program insurance requirements, and this proposed rule would not change those procedures. The following existing collection of information requirements would continue to apply, under the following control numbers: (1) 0648–0318, Alaska Observer Program (applies to the North Pacific Observer Program); (2) 0648– 0500, An Observer Program for At-Sea Processing Vessels in the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; and (3) 0648–0546, Northeast Region Observer Providers Requirements. Note that, while this action would make clear that the existing regulations for the West Coast Catcher Processor Program (50 CFR 660.160) include insurance requirements for permitted observer providers (by adding a reference to the minimum insurance standard to the program’s regulations), the collection of an insurance certificate from observer providers that are permitted to operate in this program is already covered under the existing control number 0648–0500, An Observer Program for At-Sea Processing Vessels in the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery. Initial Regulatory Flexibility (IRFA) Analysis Pursuant to Section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), NMFS has prepared an IRFA to analyze the potential impact that this rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. The RIR and IRFA are available for public review (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows. Description of the Reasons Why Action Is Being Considered The policy reasons for issuing this proposed rule are discussed previously in the preamble of this document, and are not repeated here. Statement of the Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, the Proposed Rule; Identification of All Relevant Federal Rules Which May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the Proposed Rule The objective of this proposed rule is to promote effective operation of regional observer programs by ensuring that observer providers have a nationally consistent suite of insurance coverages that properly addresses the financial risks of their operations, regardless of the fishery observed or the region in which the provider operates. E:\FR\FM\22NOP1.SGM 22NOP1 66266 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 222 / Monday, November 22, 2021 / Proposed Rules jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 The legal basis for this proposed rule is 16 U.S.C. 1855(d). No other Federal rules duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this proposed rule. Number and Description of Small Entities Regulated by the Proposed Action Currently, there are six companies that provide observer services in a NMFS mandatory or voluntary observer program. These entities, which would be directly regulated by the proposed action, include: A.I.S. Inc.; Alaskan Observers, Inc.; Saltwater, Inc.; TechSea International; Fathom Resources LLC; and East West Technical Services, LLC. Four of these entities operate in the North Pacific Observer Program. Three operate in the West Coast Observer Program, and two operate in the Northeast Observer Program. The specific NMFS regional observer programs in which these companies may be permitted or approved to deploy observers are as follows: The North Pacific Observer Program, 50 CFR 679.52; the West Coast Groundfish Observer Program, 50 CFR 660.16; the West Coast Catch Monitor Program, 50 CFR 660.17; the West Coast Groundfish Observer and Catch Monitor Provider Permits Program, 50 CFR 660.18; the West Coast Shoreside IFQ Program, 50 CFR 660.140; the West Coast Mothership Cooperative Program, 50 CFR 660.150; the West Coast Catcher Processor Cooperative Program, 50 CFR 660.160; the program for Northeast atsea sampler/observer coverage, 50 CFR 648.11(h); and the Northeast Multispecies at-sea sector monitoring program, 50 CFR 648.87(b)(4). The information available to NMFS indicates that the principal activity of most of these companies is providing observers. All of the current observer provider companies are considered small entities under the RFA. Additionally, firms interested in obtaining approval or a permit to provide observer services under a NMFS regional observer program in the future would be regulated under the proposed action. Observer provider services are a specialized area, and NMFS does not know how many other firms might want to become providers in the future. In any event, NMFS anticipates that any new providers would be considered small entities. For purposes of the RFA, NMFS established a small business size standard (NAICS 11411) for all businesses in the commercial fishing industry including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing. (See 80 FR 81194; 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Nov 19, 2021 Jkt 256001 is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 million for all of its affiliated operations worldwide. Based on available information, NMFS has determined that all six of these companies are small entities, i.e., they are engaged in the business of fish harvesting (NAICS 114111), are independently owned or operated, are not dominant in their field of operation, and have annual gross receipts not in excess of $11 million. Even though this proposed action would apply to a substantial number of the relevant businesses, the implementation of this action would not result in a significant adverse economic impact on individual companies. As described below, the proposed action could result in possible changes in insurance costs for these companies, ranging from an increase of approximately $10,000 to an approximate decrease of a similar amount. This range includes potential benefits to the companies stemming from clarifying requirements and allowing them to drop certain insurance policies that are no longer necessary. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements of the Proposed Rule This proposed rule does not include new reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements. As noted under the Paperwork Reduction Act header above, NMFS’ regional observer program regulations that authorize observer providers or that specify authorized provider responsibilities, already include procedures for demonstrating compliance with program insurance requirements, and this proposed rule would not change those procedures. Description of Any Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Rule That Accomplish the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes and That Minimize Any Significant Economic Impact of the Proposed Rule on Small Entities As required by 5 U.S.C. 603(c), NMFS’ analysis considered whether there are any significant alternatives to the proposed rule that would accomplish its stated objectives while minimizing any significant economic impact on small entities. To identify alternatives, NMFS took several information gathering actions. In 2016, NMFS held an Observer Provider Insurance Workshop (2016 Workshop), which was attended by marine insurance experts, observer PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 providers, observer representatives, and officials from relevant Federal and state agencies. Additionally, in 2018, NMFS issues a Request for Information (2018 RFI) in which it asked for input on an appropriate suite of insurance and associated coverage amounts for observer providers (83 FR 32829, July 16, 2018). Through this engagement, NMFS identified no alternatives to the proposed rule that would reasonably address the unique risks that observer coverage presents for observer providers, observers, and the industry that is subject to observer coverage requirements. Therefore, NMFS analyzed only whether the proposed rule would have a significant adverse economic impact on observer providers, all of which are small entities. The question of whether this proposed rule would have a significant economic impact on the small entity observer providers depends upon whether carrying the required policies under the minimum national standard would result in increased premiums compared to the premiums that observer providers currently pay to comply with existing regional requirements. However, as described below, NMFS lacks the precise baseline information on existing premium costs that is necessary to determine, with any specificity the economic impact that may result from the proposed rule. NMFS attempted to obtain baseline information on current observer provider insurance premium costs through outreach to the six companies that provide observer services in a NMFS mandatory or voluntary observer program. However, these companies viewed insurance cost information as proprietary, and, therefore, declined to provide details of their insurance costs or estimates of what premium costs would be to comply with the proposed national minimum standard. Nonetheless, based on the limited information that these companies did provided, NMFS estimated that current observer provider insurance premiums cost less than $5,000 per employee. It is possible that the proposed rule could result in a decrease of premiums from the estimated $5,000 per employee baseline, due to cost savings from lower premiums, from the consolidation of policies, or from the cancellation of policies that are no longer necessary. It is also possible for a premium increase to an outer bound of $10,000 per employee if a company previously had no policy coverage at all. Using these general assumptions, NMFS developed ranges in observer provider premium changes that could result upon E:\FR\FM\22NOP1.SGM 22NOP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 222 / Monday, November 22, 2021 / Proposed Rules implementation of the proposed rule (see table below). To form an accurate assessment of the economic impact that may result from the proposed rule, NMFS requests comment on the ranges described below. NMFS is seeking comments on two aspects of these premium ranges. Specifically, NMFS would like comments on whether the magnitude of the ranges described below accurately captures the likely premium changes that may result from the proposed rule. In addition, NMFS would like comments on which of these ranges is most likely to apply, should the proposed rule be finalized. Proposed Action Estimated Ranges of Observer Provider Premium Changes Insurance premium increases Insurance premium decreases $0 to $2,500 per employee. $2,500 to $5,000 per employee. $5,000 to $7,500 per employee. $7,500 to $10,000 per employee. $0 to $2,500 per employee. $2,500 to $5,000 per employee. $5,000 to $7,500 per employee. $7,500 to $10,000 per employee. List of Subjects 50 CFR Part 600 Administrative practice and procedure, Confidential business information, Fish, Fisheries, Fishing, Fishing vessels, Foreign relations, Intergovernmental relations, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Statistics. 50 CFR Part 648 Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. 50 CFR Part 660 Fisheries, Fishing, Indians, Recreation and recreation areas, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Treaties. 50 CFR Part 679 Alaska, Fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 600 continues to read as follows: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Nov 19, 2021 Jkt 256001 § 600.748 National Minimum Observer Provider Insurance Standard. (a) Applicability. As part of regulations for observer provider companies to obtain approval or a permit to deploy a person in any mandatory or voluntary observer program, or regulations that specify approved or permitted observer provider responsibilities, NMFS must reference and ensure compliance with the following national minimum insurance standard. (b) Policies and Coverage Amounts. (1) Marine General Liability ($1 million any one occurrence). (2) Marine Employers Liability ($1 million any one occurrence) for an observer provider that is authorized, or has applied to be authorized, to deploy observers or monitors at-sea. (3) State workers’ compensation as required by each state in which the observer provider is authorized, or has applied to be authorized, to deploy observers or monitors at-sea or shoreside. (4) U.S. Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act coverage, either as a standalone policy or as a state workers’ compensation policy endorsement, if that policy or a policy endorsement is required by the respective state(s) in which the observer provider is authorized, or has applied to be authorized, to deploy observers or monitors at-sea or shoreside. (5) Excess or umbrella coverage ($2 million any one occurrence). (c) Policy coverages. Coverage must extend to injury, liability, and accidental death during the period of employment, including training, of observers or monitors at-sea or shoreside. 3. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 648 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. For the reasons set out in the preamble, NOAA proposes to amend 50 CFR parts 600, 648, 660, and 679 as follows: ■ 2. In subpart H, add § 600.748 to read as follows: ■ PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES Dated: November 16, 2021. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. PART 600—MAGNUSON-STEVENS ACT PROVISIONS Authority: 5 U.S.C. 561 and 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. 4. In § 648.11, revise the section heading and paragraph (h)(3)(vii) to read as follows: ■ § 648.11 At-sea sampler/observer coverage. * * * (h) * * * (3) * * * PO 00000 Frm 00048 * Fmt 4702 * Sfmt 4702 66267 (vii) Evidence of holding insurance specified at § 600.748(b) and (c) of this chapter. * * * * * ■ 5. In § 648.87, revise paragraph (b)(4)(i)(G) to read as follows: § 648.87 Sector allocation. * * * * * (b) * * * (4) * * * (i) * * * (G) Evidence of holding insurance specified at § 600.748(b) and (c) of this chapter. * * * * * PART 660—FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES 6. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 660 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.; 773 et seq.; 7001 et seq. 7. In § 660.17, revise paragraph (f)(1)(vii)(B) to read as follows: ■ § 660.17 Catch monitor program. * * * * * (f) * * * (1) * * * (vii) * * * (B) The observer provider must submit copies of ‘‘certificates of insurance,’’ that names the Catch Monitor Program Coordinator as the ‘‘certificate holder’’ to the Catch Monitor Program Office by February 1 of each year. The certificates of insurance shall verify all coverage provisions specified at § 600.748(b) and (c) of this chapter and state that the insurance company will notify the certificate holder if insurance coverage is changed or canceled. * * * * * ■ 8. In § 660.140, revise paragraph (h)(5)(xi)(C) to read as follows: § 660.140 Shorebased IFQ Program. * * * * * (h) * * * (5) * * * (xi) * * * (C) Certificates of insurance. The observer provider must submit copies of ‘‘certificates of insurance’’ that name the Northwest Fisheries Science Center Observer Program manager as the ‘‘certificate holder’’ to the Observer Program Office by February 1 of each year. The certificates of insurance shall verify all coverage provisions specified at § 600.748(b) and (c) of this chapter and state that the insurance company will notify the certificate holder if insurance coverage is changed or canceled. * * * * * E:\FR\FM\22NOP1.SGM 22NOP1 66268 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 222 / Monday, November 22, 2021 / Proposed Rules 9. In § 660.150, add paragraph (j)(4)(xi)(A)(6), and revise paragraph (j)(4)(xi)(B)(3) to read as follows: ■ § 660.150 Mothership (MS) Coop Program. * * * * (j) * * * (4) * * * (xi) * * * (A) * * * (6) Certificates of insurance. The observer service provider must submit copies of ‘‘certificates of insurance’’ that name the Northwest Fisheries Science Center Observer Program manager as the ‘‘certificate holder’’ to the Observer Program Office by February 1 of each year. The certificates of insurance shall verify all coverage provisions specified at § 600.748(b) and (c) of this chapter and state that the insurance company will notify the certificate holder if insurance coverage is changed or canceled. * * * * * (B) * * * (3) Certificates of insurance. The observer provider must submit copies of ‘‘certificates of insurance’’ that name the Northwest Fisheries Science Center Observer Program manager as the ‘‘certificate holder’’ to the Observer jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 * VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Nov 19, 2021 Jkt 256001 Program Office by February 1 of each year. The certificates of insurance shall verify all coverage provisions specified at § 600.748(b) and (c) of this chapter and state that the insurance company will notify the certificate holder if insurance coverage is changed or canceled. * * * * * ■ 10. In § 660.160, add paragraph (g)(1)(iv) to read as follows: PART 679—FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA 11. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 679 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 1801 et seq.; 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 108–447; Pub. L. 111–281. 12. In § 679.52, revise paragraph (b)(11)(vi) to read as follows: ■ § 660.160 Catcher/processor (C/P) Coop Program. § 679.52 Observer provider permitting and responsibilities. * * * * * * (g) * * * (1) * * * (v) Certificates of insurance. The observer provider must submit copies of ‘‘certificates of insurance’’ that name the Northwest Fisheries Science Center Observer Program manager as the ‘‘certificate holder’’ to the Observer Program Office by February 1 of each year. The certificates of insurance shall verify all coverage provisions specified at § 600.748(b) and (c) of this chapter and state that the insurance company will notify the certificate holder if insurance coverage is changed or canceled. * * * * * PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 * * * * (b) * * * (11) * * * (vi) Certificates of insurance. Copies of ‘‘certificates of insurance’’ that name the NMFS Observer Program leader as the ‘‘certificate holder’’ must be submitted to the Observer Program by February 1 of each year. The certificates of insurance shall verify all coverage provisions specified at § 600.748(b) and (c) of this chapter and state that the insurance company will notify the certificate holder if insurance coverage is changed or canceled. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2021–25367 Filed 11–19–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\22NOP1.SGM 22NOP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 222 (Monday, November 22, 2021)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 66259-66268]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-25367]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Parts 600, 648, 660, and 679

[Docket No. 211110-0228]
RIN 0648-BJ33


Establish National Minimum Insurance Standard for National Marine 
Fisheries Service Programs That Permit or Approve Observer Providers

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: NMFS is proposing to establish a uniform, nationally 
consistent minimum insurance standard that would apply in regional 
regulatory programs that authorize an observer provider to deploy a 
person in any mandatory or voluntary observer program and that specify 
responsibilities of authorized providers. NMFS has concluded that this 
action is necessary to clarify the types of insurance that are 
appropriate to address the financial risks that observer coverage 
presents in any federally managed fishery that is subject to observer 
coverage. The proposed standard would establish a nationally consistent 
suite of insurance coverages that an observer provider seeking 
authorization, or that has been authorized, must have to mitigate the 
financial risks associated with providing observer services; 
specifically observer deployments to fishing vessels or shoreside 
locations such as processing facilities, and those that arise with 
training personnel for these deployments. Through compliance with this 
minimum standard, observer providers would be properly insured, thereby 
mitigating the financial risks that fishing vessels, first receivers, 
and shoreside processors have when complying with observer coverage 
requirements. This proposed rule would also revise regional observer 
program regulations to reference the newly established national minimum 
insurance standard, but existing regional observer program regulatory 
procedures that specify how an observer provider demonstrates 
compliance with insurance requirements would not be modified.

DATES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before 
January 21, 2022.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by FDMS 
Docket Number NOAA-NMFS-2019-0142 by either of the following methods:
    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via 
the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to https://www.regulations.gov and 
enter NOAA-NMFS-2019-0142 in the Search box. Click on the ``Comment'' 
icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
    Mail: Submit written comments to Dennis Hansford, 1315 East West 
Highway, Room 12506, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
    Fax: (301) 713-4137; Attn: Dennis Hansford.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information 
should be directed to Dennis Hansford, 301-427-8136 or 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), 
16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., establishes a national program for conservation 
and management of fishery resources within the United States Exclusive 
Economic Zone (EEZ). See id. 1801(a)(6), 1811(a). NMFS, acting under 
authority delegated from the Secretary of Commerce, is responsible for 
managing fisheries under the MSA, in conjunction with eight regional 
fishery management councils (Councils) established under the Act. See 
id. 1852(a). Each Council has authority to develop fishery management 
plans (FMPs) for fisheries in a specific geographical area and to deem 
proposed regulations that are necessary for plan implementation. See 
id. 1852(a), (c).
    Collection of information on fishing and fish processing, such as 
type and quantity of fishing gear used, catch in numbers of fish or 
weight thereof, fishing locations, and biological

[[Page 66260]]

information, are critical to effective fishery management. See id. 
1853(a)(5). To obtain this information, the MSA authorizes, among other 
things, that an FMP may require that one or more observers be carried 
on board a vessel of the United States engaged in fishing for species 
that are subject to the plan, for the purpose of collecting data 
necessary for the conservation and management of the fishery. See id. 
1853(b)(8). The MSA defines the term ``observer'' as any person 
required or authorized to be carried on a vessel for conservation and 
management purposes by regulations or permits under this Act. See id. 
1802(31). This definition would thus cover persons referred to in FMPs 
and regulations as ``observers'' as well as ``catch-monitors'' or ``at-
sea monitors.''
    In 2018, 54 fisheries subject to management under an FMP were 
monitored by observer programs. To carry out required observer 
coverage, NMFS administers 14 observer programs (referred to as NMFS 
Regional Observer Programs or NMFS Observer Programs) that operate in 
the agency's five regions. These programs train and deploy observers, 
establish information collection protocols, establish risk mitigations, 
and debrief observers following deployment to provide quality control 
on information that observers collect. While observers most frequently 
are deployed under the MSA to collect information on vessels that are 
catching, taking, or harvesting fish or attempting to do so, observers 
also are deployed to motherships, first receivers, and shoreside 
processing facilities. NMFS' regional observer programs deploy catch-
monitors and at-sea monitors to collect vessel catch or bycatch 
information and to ensure accurate catch accounting, reduce uncertainty 
of bycatch estimates, provide information for fishery assessments, or 
address other fishery information purposes. In this proposed rule, the 
term ``observer'' refers to a person who is deployed as an observer, a 
catch or at-sea monitor on a fishing vessel or mothership, or as an 
observer deployed to a shoreside first receiver location or processing 
facility. Also, in the preamble of this proposed rule, NMFS refers to a 
company that provides observer or catch monitor or at-sea monitor 
services as an ``observer provider.''
    At present, all at-sea and shoreside observer deployments for NMFS 
observer programs are staffed by observer providers. These companies 
provide observer staffing support under two distinct models: (1) Direct 
service, where the NMFS observer program contracts with an observer 
provider and oversees the provider's services based on the terms of the 
contract; and (2) industry-funded service, where the observer provider 
provides services directly to a vessel or a fleet of vessels, and a 
NMFS regional observer program oversees the provision of those services 
based on requirements set forth in NMFS regulations.
    In the North Pacific and most West Coast programs, an observer 
provider must be permitted under the programs' regulations and satisfy 
other responsibilities specified in regulations in order to provide 
services in either the direct contract model or industry-funded model. 
The permitting and regulatory responsibilities for the North Pacific 
Observer Program are codified at 50 CFR 679.52, while those for West 
Coast programs are codified at 50 CFR 660.16 (Groundfish observer 
program), 50 CFR 660.17 (Catch monitor program), 50 CFR 660.18 
(Observer and catch monitor provider permits and endorsements), 50 CFR 
660.140 (Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program), 50 CFR 
660.150 (Mothership Cooperative Program), and 50 CFR 660.160 (Catcher 
Processor Cooperative Program).
    In the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region an observer provider must be 
approved to provide services in the At-sea sampler/observer coverage 
(formally entitled Monitoring coverage) codified at 50 CFR 648.11(h) or 
at-sea monitoring services in the Northeast Multispecies sector program 
codified at 50 CFR 648.87(b)(4).
    The Southeast, Southwest, and Pacific Islands programs use only the 
direct contract model, and do not have regulations to authorize a 
company to deploy observers in their programs through an approval or 
permit process. Nor do these programs have regulations that specify 
observer provider responsibilities. Further information about NMFS' 
regional observer programs is available at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/fishery-observers.

Observer Coverage and Financial Risks

    The 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census of Fatal Occupational 
Injuries ranks commercial fishing as one of the most dangerous 
occupations. Because most observers are deployed to fishing vessels or 
motherships, observers' risk of occupational injury is on par with that 
of commercial fishermen. All observer deployments, whether at-sea or 
shoreside, involve exposure to natural elements, physical labor, and 
proximity to mechanical equipment. Given the work environment in which 
observers are deployed and the duties they perform, observer coverage 
presents heightened financial risks for observer employers and the 
fishing vessels and shoreside processors that are subject to observer 
coverage. Additionally, observer training for deployments occurs in the 
same environment and involves simulation of the same duties with the 
same equipment as an actual deployment. Thus, the financial risks 
presented in training observers for deployments are the same as those 
presented by actual deployments.
    Following is a summary of the financial risks presented by observer 
coverage for observers; owners of vessels, first receivers, and 
shoreside processing facilities subject to coverage; and observer 
providers.
    1. Observers incur risks associated with occupational injury 
resulting in inability to work.
    2. Vessel owners, first receivers, and shoreside processors incur 
risks from observer claims for compensation for incidents arising out 
of deployment, e.g., occupational injury.
    3. Observer employers incur risks from observer compensation claims 
for occupational injury, and from vessel/shoreside processor owner 
claims for damages resulting from observer negligence.
    Private insurance coverages and state workers' compensation 
programs are traditional mechanisms to address the financial risks that 
observer deployments present. However, the nuances of maritime law, 
combined with the unique role that observers have in monitoring fishing 
activities, have complicated efforts to address the financial risks of 
observer deployment, whether through private insurance or statutory 
compensation programs. Since 1994, Councils and NMFS have taken various 
actions to address insurance issues for observer providers. In regions 
that do not have regulatory requirements, insurance requirements are 
included as part of the contracts between NMFS and the observer 
providers for observer coverage. These insurance requirements--whether 
based in regulations or contracts--differ across regions. At present, 
the types of insurance policies that observer providers are required to 
have, either by regulation or by contract, include the following:
     Maritime liability to cover seamen's claims under the 
Merchant Marine Act (Jones Act) and General Maritime Law;
     U.S. Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act;
     State Workers' Compensation;
     Contractual General Liability;
     Marine General Liability;
     Commercial General Liability;
     Marine Employers Liability; and

[[Page 66261]]

     Excess or Umbrella Coverage.
    Contract-based insurance requirements vary but generally consist of 
Marine General Liability, Marine Employers Liability, and State 
Workers' Compensation policies.
    Regulatory-based insurance requirements currently exist for 
observer providers that are permitted under the North Pacific Observer 
Program (50 CFR 679.52(b)(11)(vi)), the West Coast Catch Monitor 
Program (50 CFR 660.17(f)(1)(vii)(B)), the West Coast Shoreside IFQ 
Program (50 CFR 660.140(h)(5)(xi)(C)), and the West Coast Mothership 
Cooperative Program (50 CFR 660.150(j)(4)(xi)(B)(3)). In each of these 
programs, a company permitted to deploy observers must annually provide 
copies of certificates of insurance that name the applicable program as 
the certificate holder and that verify that the company has the 
insurance specified in the applicable regulation.
    The Northeast at-sea sampler/observer coverage program insurance 
requirements at 50 CFR 648.11(h)(3)(vii) are included as elements of an 
approved program provider application. In other words, an observer 
provider must demonstrate evidence that it holds the insurance 
specified in the regulation as part of its application to become an 
approved provider. Likewise, as part of an application to be an 
approved services provider in the Northeast Multispecies sector at-sea 
monitoring program, a company must demonstrate that it holds insurance 
that NMFS deems adequate (see 50 CFR 648.87(b)(4)(i)(G)).
    In addition, Congress addressed compensation for observer 
occupational risks through the 1996 Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA). 
Public Law 104-297 (Oct. 11, 1996). That statute amended the MSA to 
deem observers to be Federal employees for purposes of Federal 
Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) while deployed on a vessel under the 
MSA or the Marine Mammal Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 1881b(c)). The 
extension of FECA coverage to observers deployed at-sea filled a gap in 
coverage for observer occupational injuries that occur at-sea.

NMFS Reevaluation of Observer Provider Insurance Requirements

    Beginning in 2014, NMFS initiated a reevaluation of regional 
observer provider insurance requirements. This effort was prompted by a 
letter from Alaskan Observers, Inc. (AOI) to the North Pacific Fishery 
Management Council (NPFMC). In this letter, AOI provided information 
supporting its position that some of the observer provider insurance 
requirements under the North Pacific Observer Program are excessive or 
inapplicable, and that there are inconsistent insurance requirements 
among regional observer programs. To address these issues, AOI proposed 
a series of amendments to the North Pacific Observer Program 
regulations. In a 2015 letter to the NPFMC Executive Director (2015 
NPFMC Letter), NMFS agreed with AOI's position that certain insurance 
requirements under the North Pacific Observer Program are unnecessary; 
specifically, coverage for claims under the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 
(also known as the Jones Act), General Maritime Law (GML), and the U.S. 
Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA). To make a claim 
under the Jones Act, and certain claims under GML, a person must have 
status as a ``seaman''.\1\ Courts in a number of jurisdictions have 
held that observers do not qualify as seamen and therefore have 
dismissed Jones Act claims filed by observers and those filed under GML 
that require such status. In the case of the LHWCA, a person must be 
within the scope of an employee for purposes of the LHWCA, which 
generally covers longshore workers, ship-repairers, harbor construction 
workers and other traditional maritime labor performed shoreside. Thus, 
by definition, the LHWCA does not apply to observers when they are 
deployed at-sea.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ To qualify for seaman status, a person must (1) have a more 
or less permanent connection with (2) a vessel in navigation and (3) 
the capacity in which the person is employed or the duties which he 
or she performs must contribute to the function of the vessel, the 
accomplishment of its mission or its operation or welfare in terms 
of its maintenance during its movement or during anchorage for its 
future trips.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As part of NMFS' response to the NPFMC, it noted that the NPFMC 
could consider revising the North Pacific Observer Program regulations 
to require a Marine General Liability policy and other forms of 
insurance that may better address certain financial risks that observer 
companies have with their operations. Subsequent to issuing the 2015 
NPFMC Letter, NMFS decided to reevaluate observer provider insurance 
requirements across all regional observer programs, rather than focus 
solely on revisions to the North Pacific Observer Program regulations. 
This expanded, national effort made sense because the Jones Act, GML, 
and LHWCA requirements deemed unnecessary in that program also apply in 
the West Coast programs. In addition, a broader national evaluation 
would enable NMFS to address the lack of consistency on insurance 
requirements among regional observer programs. In 2016, NMFS held an 
Observer Provider Insurance Workshop to discuss the efficiency of 
observer provider insurance requirements and compensation for observer 
occupational injuries. This workshop was attended by insurance experts, 
observer providers, observers, and representatives from other Federal 
agencies. Subsequent to the workshop, NMFS published an Observer 
Provider Insurance Workshop Technical Report (Tech Report), available 
at http://spo.nmfs.noaa.gov/tech-memos, which summarized the Workshop's 
proceedings and identified actions that NMFS could take to reform 
observer provider insurance requirements and facilitate compensation 
for observer occupational injuries. As detailed in the Tech Report and 
the 2015 NPFMC Letter, insurance coverages that observer providers are 
required to have for claims under the Jones Act and GML are 
inapplicable to observers as they lack seamen status or, in the case of 
the LHWCA, the coverage requirement is overly broad as it does not 
apply to observers who are deployed at-sea.
    In addition, NMFS has learned that, while FECA does provide 
coverage for observer at-sea injuries, the compensation formula under 
FECA does not take into consideration overtime pay. Observers typically 
work 12-16 hour shifts to correspond with fishing vessel crew shifts, 
so they often do not receive full compensation for occupational injury 
claims under FECA.
    NMFS' findings based on its national reevaluation of regional 
observer program insurance requirements are illustrated in the 
following tables.

                                               Table 1--Applicability of Remedial Authorities to Observers
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                                       State workers'
   Location of observer      Jones Act seamen's claims     GML seamen's claims               LHWCA                    FECA              compensation
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On Land...................  Not applicable............  Not Applicable...........  Applicable...............  Not Applicable......  Applicable.

[[Page 66262]]

 
At-Sea....................  Not Applicable............  Not Applicable...........  Not Applicable...........  Applicable per MSA    Applicable, but may
                                                                                                               403(c).               be limited to
                                                                                                                                     injuries sustained
                                                                                                                                     within state
                                                                                                                                     jurisdiction.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                     Table 2--Comparison of Regional Observer Program Insurance Requirements
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Jones Act/GML                      State Worker's        Marine          Commercial
        Program          seamen's claims        LHWCA         Compensation       Employer's          General
                            coverage                              (WC)         Liability (MEL)   Liability (CGL)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
North Pacific.........  Required $1       Required $1       Must meet         Not required....  Required--no
                         million minimum   million minimum   requirements                        minimum
                         coverage.         coverage.         within state of                     established.
                                                             operation.
West Coast............  Not required....  Required $1       Must meet         Not required....  Required--no
                                           million minimum   requirements                        minimum
                                           coverage.         within state of                     established.
                                                             operation.
Northeast.............  Not required....  Not required....  Required--$5      Required--$5      Not required.
                                                             million           million
                                                             combined          combined
                                                             minimum for MEL   minimum for MEL
                                                             and WC.           and WC.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To address these issues, the Tech Report recommended that NMFS 
explore replacing the divergent regional insurance requirements with a 
consistent, nationally applicable minimum insurance standard. 
Considering the highly technical nature of maritime insurance and 
insurance markets in general, the Tech Report recommended that NMFS 
first gather more information on the types of insurance and minimum 
dollar coverage amounts for the financial risks that observer coverage 
presents. To do so, NMFS published a Request for Information (RFI) on 
National Reform of Regional Observer Provider Insurance Requirements 
(83 FR 32829, July 16, 2018). In this RFI, NMFS asked observer 
providers, maritime insurance experts, observers, and the public at 
large for information on the types of insurance and associated minimum 
dollar amounts that would be appropriate to address observer coverage 
financial risks across all regional programs and in the different 
contexts in which observers are deployed, i.e., at-sea and shoreside.

Minimum Insurance Standard for Observer Providers

    NMFS proposes requiring a specific suite of insurance policies, the 
elements of which are described below. The proposed standard is based 
on an intensive, multiyear effort to identify to identify policies and 
associated coverage amounts that would best address the financial risks 
of observer provider operations. Specifically, to develop the proposed 
minimum insurance standard, NMFS relied on the analysis and conclusions 
set forth in the 2015 NPFMC Letter, and public input that NMFS obtained 
through the 2016 Workshop and the 2018 RFI. Additionally, to gain 
further insight on the fishing industry and observer providers, NMFS 
coordinated with the regional FMCs in the North Pacific, West Coast, 
and New England and conducted lengthy informal phone interviews with 
each observer provider that operates an industry-funded program in 
those regions. NMFS then reached out to insurance brokers who offer 
specialized products for maritime employers, including observer 
providers. Through these extensive outreach efforts, and its own 
internal research and analysis, NMFS identified only one suite of 
insurance policies that would address the financial risks of observer 
provider operations. NMFS does not believe there is any other 
information available upon which it could reach a different conclusion.
    NMFS specifically notes that the insurance standard reflects two 
points that it made in the 2015 NPFMC Letter. First, this standard does 
not include coverages for seamen's claims under the Jones Act and those 
made under GML because observers do not have seamen's status under 
those authorities. Second, the standard clarifies that the LHWCA 
applies to observers only when they perform duties shoreside because 
that authority applies only to shoreside incidents. Based on input from 
maritime insurance experts, the requirement to obtain LHWCA coverage 
would apply only in those jurisdictions that require it.
    NMFS believes that this suite of insurance policy coverages and 
associated coverage amounts would set a nationally consistent minimum 
level of insurance that is appropriate to address the financial risks 
that observer providers have in providing observer services. NMFS 
believes this suite of insurance policy coverages would help to 
mitigate the financial risks that observer deployments present for 
fishing vessels, first receivers, and shoreside processors that are 
subject to coverage. Additionally, this proposed minimum insurance 
standard would provide observers who are injured during their period of 
employment as an observer with appropriate compensation safeguards.

Elements of Proposed Minimum Insurance Standard

Marine General Liability (MGL) Policy at $1 Million for Each Occurrence

    This policy would cover an observer provider for bodily injury and 
property damage liability caused by their observers' conduct while 
deployed. By ensuring that an observer provider is covered for 
liability risks arising from the deployment of its observers, an MGL 
policy would mitigate financial risks for vessel owners and shoreside 
processors that are subject to observer monitoring. Based on input from 
marine insurance experts obtained through the RFI, NMFS found that an 
MGL policy would provide coverage for a range of marine liability 
exposures and thus is preferable to a CGL policy presently required 
under the North Pacific regulations and the West Coast regulations. 
NMFS proposes coverage at $1 million per occurrence, as recommended by 
input from marine insurance experts.
    In addition, unlike a CGL policy, an MGL policy can be enhanced 
with an endorsement that extends protection to vessel or shoreside 
processor owners from legal actions filed by an observer. That 
endorsement, however, is discretionary and not required as part of the 
proposed minimum insurance standard. NMFS believes the risks of 
observer-initiated legal actions against parties other than their 
employer are low, and any risks of such actions should be addressed 
through a Marine Employer's Liability policy, discussed below. 
Nonetheless, NMFS specifically requests comment on whether an MGL

[[Page 66263]]

endorsement for legal actions brought against a vessel owner or 
shoreside processor should be an element of the minimum insurance 
standard.

Marine Employer's Liability (MEL) Policy With a Death on the High Seas 
Act Endorsement at $1 Million for Each Occurrence

    An MEL policy is appropriate for observer providers to cover 
certain claims that an observer can make for incidents that occur at-
sea. These claims include General Maritime Law (GML) remedies of 
Unseaworthiness, Wrongful Death, Transportation, Wages, Maintenance and 
Cure, and claims under the Death on the High Seas Act. An MEL policy 
would also cover a seaman's negligence lawsuit filed by an observer 
under the Jones Act. As explained above, NMFS 2015 NPFMC Letter 
reflected the consensus view among Federal courts that observers are 
not seaman for purposes of the Jones Act. Nonetheless, this does not 
preclude an observer from filing a Jones Act claim. An MEL policy would 
cover an observer provider's costs defending against a Jones Act claim, 
and a vessel owner's defense costs if named as a party to the Jones Act 
action.
    NMFS proposes that an MEL policy provide coverage at $1 million per 
occurrence. This amount is based on recommended input from marine 
insurance experts obtained through the 2018 RFI. Because an MEL policy 
covers claims for at-sea incidents, the proposed minimum standard 
provides that the MEL policy be required only for approved or permitted 
observer providers that deploy observers at-sea.

State Workers' Compensation Policy

    A state workers' compensation policy would cover injuries that an 
observer sustains while deployed shoreside. The proposed minimum 
insurance standard would include this policy as required by the 
state(s) in which a company deploys observers.

U.S. Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) Coverage at 
Statutory Limits

    Coverage for LHWCA claims would provide insurance for injuries that 
an observer sustains while deployed shoreside. While the LHWCA does not 
apply to observers when they are at-sea, claims under the LHWCA for 
injuries sustained shoreside have been paid in some jurisdictions. The 
LHWCA compensation formula yields better benefits for observers than 
coverage that is available under state workers' compensation. Thus, it 
is important to include LHWCA coverage in the insurance standard, given 
that observers deployed as dockside monitors or to shoreside facilities 
perform all of their duties shoreside. In addition, observers deployed 
at-sea begin their deployments by traveling to the point of embarkation 
on land and perform some duties shoreside prior to embarking.
    The proposed minimum insurance standard includes LHWCA coverage as 
a stand-alone policy, or as an endorsement to a company's state 
workers' compensation policy. Under the proposed minimum standard, 
either a stand-alone policy or a policy endorsement for LHWCA coverage 
would be required only if LHWCA coverage is required in a state where 
the company deploys observers. If required under state law, NMFS 
proposes that the LHWCA policy or policy endorsement provide coverage 
at the LHWCA's claim limits.

Excess or Umbrella Coverage Over the MGL Policy or MEL Policy Limits of 
Not Less Than $2 Million

    To insure against events that may exceed the single event limits 
under an MGL policy or an MEL policy, NMFS has included in the minimum 
standard excess or umbrella coverage at not less than $2 million.

Scope of Coverage

    The primary purpose of all elements of the proposed minimum 
insurance standard is to address the specific financial risks presented 
by the full scope of an observer's employment to include deployment, 
which includes travel to the vessel or facility to be observed, and 
training for deployments. Therefore, under the proposed minimum 
standard, insurance must extend to observer injury, liability, and 
accidental death during their period of employment, to include 
training.

Proposed Action

    NMFS proposes that this suite of required insurance policy coverage 
and associated coverage amounts be codified at 50 CFR 600.678 as a 
minimum national standard for NMFS regional observer programs that 
permit or otherwise approve an observer provider to deploy a person in 
any mandatory or voluntary observer program and that specify authorized 
provider responsibilities. NMFS further proposes that the current 
insurance requirements for observer providers specified in the 
following regional regulations be removed and replaced with a reference 
to the proposed minimum insurance standard (50 CFR 600.678):
 North Pacific
[cir] North Pacific Observer Program, 50 CFR 679.52(b)(11)(vi);
 West Coast
[cir] West Coast Catch Monitor Program, 50 CFR 660.17(f)(1)(vii)(B);
[cir] West Coast Shore Side IFQ Program, 50 CFR 660.140(h)(5)(xi)(C);
[cir] West Coast Mothership Cooperative Program, 50 CFR 
660.150(j)(4)(xi)(B)(3);
 Northeast
[cir] Northeast at-sea sampler/observer coverage program, 50 CFR 
648.11(h)(3)(vii); and
[cir] Northeast Multispecies sector at-sea monitoring program, 50 CFR 
648.87(b)(4)(i)(G).

                               Table 3--Regional Program Insurance Requirements That Would Result From the Proposed Action
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 Jones Act/GML                      State Worker's      Commercial                           Marine         Excess or
           Program              seamen's clams         LHWCA         Compensation         General       Marine General     Employer's        Umbrella
                                   coverage                          Coverage (WC)    Liability (CGL)  Liability (MGL)  Liability (MEL)      Coverage
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
North Pacific Current........  Required $1       Required $1       Must meet         Required--no      Not required...  Not required...  Not required.
                                million           million           requirements      minimum
                                coverage.         coverage.         within state of   established.
                                                                    operation.
North Pacific Proposed Rule..  Not required....  $1 million per    No change.......  Not required....  Required $1      Required $1      Required $2
                                                  occurrence                                            million per      million per      million.
                                                  coverage if                                           occurrence.      occurrence.
                                                  required under
                                                  applicable
                                                  state law.
West Coast Current...........  Not required....  Required $1       Must meet         Required--no      Not required...  Not required...  Not required.
                                                  million           requirements      minimum
                                                  coverage.         within state of   coverage
                                                                    operation.        established.

[[Page 66264]]

 
West Coast Proposed rule.....  No change.......  $1 million per    No change.......  Not required....  Required $1      Required $1      Required $2
                                                  occurrence                                            million per      million per      million.
                                                  coverage if                                           occurrence.      occurrence.
                                                  required under
                                                  applicable
                                                  state law.
Northeast Current............  Not required....  Not required....  Required $5       Not required....  Not required...  Required $5      Not required.
                                                                    million                                              million
                                                                    combined                                             combined
                                                                    minimum                                              minimum
                                                                    coverage for                                         coverage for
                                                                    MEL and WC.                                          MEL and WC.
Northeast Proposed rule......  No change.......  $1 million per    Must meet         No change.......  Required $1      Required $1      Required $2
                                                  occurrence        requirements                        million per      million per      million.
                                                  coverage if       within state of                     occurrence.      occurrence.
                                                  required under    operation.
                                                  applicable
                                                  state law.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Each of these regional regulatory programs already include 
procedures to monitor and confirm observer provider compliance with 
current insurance requirements. This action would not change these 
procedures, and they would apply to monitor and confirm observer 
provider compliance with the proposed minimum standard. Compliance with 
a minimum standard that is made final through a rulemaking would be 
required during the next insurance certification for the relevant 
program, or six months after promulgation of the final rule, whichever 
is later. We expect that this will provide sufficient time for 
providers to work with their insurance broker on getting the 
appropriate coverages.
    The current regulations for the West Coast Catcher Processor 
Program (50 CFR 660.160) are unclear on whether they include insurance 
requirements for permitted observer providers. NMFS takes this 
opportunity clarify that those regulations do include insurance 
requirements. Therefore, as with other programs that have insurance 
requirements, this proposed rule would add a reference to the minimum 
insurance standard to the regulatory provisions regarding 
responsibilities for permitted observer providers that deploy observers 
in this program and procedures for demonstrating compliance with those 
standard. It would also require that an observer provider that is 
permitted to deploy observers in the West Coast Catcher Processor 
Program would demonstrate compliance with the minimum insurance 
standard by submitting copies of ``certificates of insurance,'' which 
name the Northwest Fisheries Science Center Observer Program manager as 
the ``certificate holder,'' to the Observer Program Office by February 
1 of each year. In addition, these certificates of insurance must 
verify all coverage provisions specified in the national minimum 
insurance standard regulations, and state that the insurance company 
will notify the certificate holder if insurance coverage is changed or 
canceled. This procedure for demonstrating compliance with insurance 
requirements is the same as that which applies in other West Coast 
observer programs that currently specify insurance requirements for 
permitted observer providers and this proposed rule clarifies that it 
also applies in the West Coast Catcher Processor Program.
    The proposed minimum national insurance standard would promote 
effective operation of regional observer programs by ensuring that 
observer providers have a consistent suite of insurance policy 
coverages that properly addresses the financial risks of their 
operations, regardless of the fishery observed or the region in which 
the provider operates. For these reasons, NMFS has concluded that this 
action is necessary to carry out FMP monitoring requirements performed 
by observers, and, as such, is authorized under MSA 305(d), 16 U.S.C. 
1855(d).
    As stated above, the Southeast, Southwest, and Pacific Islands 
observer programs are currently serviced only under the direct contract 
model and do not have regulations for authorizing a company to deploy 
observers in their programs, or regulations that specify observer 
provider responsibilities. For these programs, NMFS intends to require 
the national minimum insurance standard (50 CFR 600.678), as finalized, 
as a condition of direct contracts for observer provider services. This 
would be carried out through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration's, Acquisitions and Grants Office Policy Manual and not 
as a separate rulemaking.
    Given the technical nature of insurance policies that are 
applicable to observer programs, NMFS seeks detailed public comments on 
whether each type of insurance required in the proposed minimum 
national insurance standard, and associated policy coverage amounts, 
adequately addresses observer deployment risks for vessels, observer 
providers, and observers. NMFS emphasizes that, in proposing minimum 
insurance standard, NMFS is establishing a floor, not a ceiling, for 
the appropriate insurance policy types and levels of associated 
insurance policy coverage amounts to address the financial risks of 
observer deployment. This proposed rule would not prevent an observer 
provider from choosing to have insurance or coverage amounts that 
exceed the proposed minimum insurance standard. Nor would this proposed 
rule preclude a region from initiating a separate and distinct 
rulemaking that requires insurance types or coverage amounts beyond 
that which is provided under the proposed minimum standard in this 
proposed rule.

Private Insurance Options To Address Gap in FECA Coverage

    NMFS takes this opportunity to address other information obtained 
through the 2018 RFI that it considered when developing the proposed 
minimum insurance standard. In the 2018 RFI, NMFS presented a series of 
questions about FECA coverage that applies to observers when deployed 
at-sea under the MSA. Information obtained through the 2018 RFI showed 
that there is a gap in FECA coverage; specifically FECA wage-loss 
benefits do not include consideration of overtime pay. One observer 
provider reported that they were able to address that gap by 
supplementing their MEL policy to provide their observers with 
additional

[[Page 66265]]

benefits. This form of an MEL policy, however, is customized to the 
operations of that provider and is not a policy that could form the 
basis of a policy that all providers must have. Therefore, NMFS decided 
not to require this form of an MEL policy in the proposed national 
insurance standard.
    However, recognizing the implications of the gaps in FECA coverage 
for observers, NMFS encourages observer providers to consider obtaining 
this form of an MEL policy or a separate insurance policy that would 
provide observers with compensation that is not provided under FECA.

Classification

    NMFS issues this proposed rule pursuant to Magnuson-Stevens Act 
(MSA) section 305(d), which provides the Secretary of Commerce with 
general responsibility to carry out any FMP or FMP amendment, and to 
promulgate regulations as may be necessary to discharge such 
responsibility (16 U.S.C. 1855(d)). The NMFS Assistant Administrator 
has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the MSA and 
other applicable laws, subject to further consideration after public 
comment.

NEPA Determination

    NOAA's Policy and Procedures for Compliance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Related Authorities (NOAA 
Administrative Order 216-6A and Companion Manual for NAO 216-6A) 
establishes that all NOAA major Federal actions be reviewed with 
respect to environmental consequences on the human environment. NOAA 
Administrative Order 216-6A and Companion Manual for NAO 216-6A were 
used to examine this proposed rule for its potential to impact the 
quality of the human environment and it concluded that it would not 
have a significant adverse effect, individually or cumulatively, on the 
human environment and does not involve any extraordinary circumstances 
listed in the Companion Manual for NAO 216-6A. Further, NMFS determined 
that this proposed rule may appropriately be categorically excluded 
from the requirement to prepare either an environmental assessment or 
environmental impact statement in accordance with the categorical 
exclusion described in the Companion Manual for NAO 216-6A, G7, which 
applies to preparation of policy directives, rules, regulations, and 
guidelines of an administrative, financial, legal, technical, or 
procedural nature, or for which the environmental effects are too 
broad, speculative or conjectural to lend themselves to meaningful 
analysis and will be subject later to the NEPA process, either 
collectively or on a case-by-case basis.

Executive Order 12866

    This proposed rule has been determined to be significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.
    Regional regulatory programs that authorize an observer provider to 
deploy a person in any mandatory or voluntary observer program and that 
specify responsibilities of authorized providers already include 
insurance requirements. Thus, to operate in these programs, observer 
providers already must demonstrate that they have the insurance 
specified in the applicable regulations.
    Due to the nuances of maritime law and the unique nature of 
observer deployments, regions have adopted differing insurance 
requirements that are in some cases overly burdensome and inefficient. 
This action would provide a national standard that clarifies the types 
and amounts of insurance and associated coverage amounts that best 
address the financial risks of observer provider operations regardless 
of the fishery or region in which an observer provider operates. In 
some cases, compliance with the proposed national insurance standard 
would require observer providers to have insurance that is different 
from what they are required to have under current regulations. While 
this proposed action would change the suite of insurance that observer 
providers are required to have, it does not make substantive increases 
to the insurance that is required in current regional programs. In 
fact, the proposed action makes clarifications that would result in 
observer providers not being required to have coverages for seaman's 
claims under the Jones Act and General Maritime Law.
    For these reasons, we do not expect this action to result in a 
significant increase in the premiums that observer providers currently 
pay. In fact, the action could result in lower premiums because it 
would establish a national standard that does not include certain 
coverages that are required under current regulations. Additionally, 
the increased efficiency of a national standard may bring about lower 
premiums. NMFS invites public commenters to provide information that 
could inform these assumptions.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This action does not contain a change to a collection-of-
information requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act. 
NMFS' regional observer program regulations that authorize observer 
providers or that specify authorized provider responsibilities already 
include procedures for demonstrating compliance with program insurance 
requirements, and this proposed rule would not change those procedures. 
The following existing collection of information requirements would 
continue to apply, under the following control numbers: (1) 0648-0318, 
Alaska Observer Program (applies to the North Pacific Observer 
Program); (2) 0648-0500, An Observer Program for At-Sea Processing 
Vessels in the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; and (3) 0648-0546, 
Northeast Region Observer Providers Requirements. Note that, while this 
action would make clear that the existing regulations for the West 
Coast Catcher Processor Program (50 CFR 660.160) include insurance 
requirements for permitted observer providers (by adding a reference to 
the minimum insurance standard to the program's regulations), the 
collection of an insurance certificate from observer providers that are 
permitted to operate in this program is already covered under the 
existing control number 0648-0500, An Observer Program for At-Sea 
Processing Vessels in the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility (IRFA) Analysis

    Pursuant to Section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 
NMFS has prepared an IRFA to analyze the potential impact that this 
rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. The RIR and IRFA are 
available for public review (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA 
follows.

Description of the Reasons Why Action Is Being Considered

    The policy reasons for issuing this proposed rule are discussed 
previously in the preamble of this document, and are not repeated here.

Statement of the Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, the Proposed Rule; 
Identification of All Relevant Federal Rules Which May Duplicate, 
Overlap, or Conflict With the Proposed Rule

    The objective of this proposed rule is to promote effective 
operation of regional observer programs by ensuring that observer 
providers have a nationally consistent suite of insurance coverages 
that properly addresses the financial risks of their operations, 
regardless of the fishery observed or the region in which the provider 
operates.

[[Page 66266]]

The legal basis for this proposed rule is 16 U.S.C. 1855(d). No other 
Federal rules duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this proposed rule.

Number and Description of Small Entities Regulated by the Proposed 
Action

    Currently, there are six companies that provide observer services 
in a NMFS mandatory or voluntary observer program. These entities, 
which would be directly regulated by the proposed action, include: 
A.I.S. Inc.; Alaskan Observers, Inc.; Saltwater, Inc.; TechSea 
International; Fathom Resources LLC; and East West Technical Services, 
LLC. Four of these entities operate in the North Pacific Observer 
Program. Three operate in the West Coast Observer Program, and two 
operate in the Northeast Observer Program. The specific NMFS regional 
observer programs in which these companies may be permitted or approved 
to deploy observers are as follows: The North Pacific Observer Program, 
50 CFR 679.52; the West Coast Groundfish Observer Program, 50 CFR 
660.16; the West Coast Catch Monitor Program, 50 CFR 660.17; the West 
Coast Groundfish Observer and Catch Monitor Provider Permits Program, 
50 CFR 660.18; the West Coast Shoreside IFQ Program, 50 CFR 660.140; 
the West Coast Mothership Cooperative Program, 50 CFR 660.150; the West 
Coast Catcher Processor Cooperative Program, 50 CFR 660.160; the 
program for Northeast at-sea sampler/observer coverage, 50 CFR 
648.11(h); and the Northeast Multispecies at-sea sector monitoring 
program, 50 CFR 648.87(b)(4). The information available to NMFS 
indicates that the principal activity of most of these companies is 
providing observers. All of the current observer provider companies are 
considered small entities under the RFA.
    Additionally, firms interested in obtaining approval or a permit to 
provide observer services under a NMFS regional observer program in the 
future would be regulated under the proposed action. Observer provider 
services are a specialized area, and NMFS does not know how many other 
firms might want to become providers in the future. In any event, NMFS 
anticipates that any new providers would be considered small entities. 
For purposes of the RFA, NMFS established a small business size 
standard (NAICS 11411) for all businesses in the commercial fishing 
industry including their affiliates, whose primary industry is 
commercial fishing. (See 80 FR 81194; 50 CFR 200.2). A business 
primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is 
classified as a small business if it is independently owned and 
operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its 
affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 
million for all of its affiliated operations worldwide. Based on 
available information, NMFS has determined that all six of these 
companies are small entities, i.e., they are engaged in the business of 
fish harvesting (NAICS 114111), are independently owned or operated, 
are not dominant in their field of operation, and have annual gross 
receipts not in excess of $11 million.
    Even though this proposed action would apply to a substantial 
number of the relevant businesses, the implementation of this action 
would not result in a significant adverse economic impact on individual 
companies. As described below, the proposed action could result in 
possible changes in insurance costs for these companies, ranging from 
an increase of approximately $10,000 to an approximate decrease of a 
similar amount. This range includes potential benefits to the companies 
stemming from clarifying requirements and allowing them to drop certain 
insurance policies that are no longer necessary.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements of the Proposed Rule

    This proposed rule does not include new reporting, recordkeeping, 
or other compliance requirements. As noted under the Paperwork 
Reduction Act header above, NMFS' regional observer program regulations 
that authorize observer providers or that specify authorized provider 
responsibilities, already include procedures for demonstrating 
compliance with program insurance requirements, and this proposed rule 
would not change those procedures.

Description of Any Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Rule That 
Accomplish the Stated Objectives of Applicable Statutes and That 
Minimize Any Significant Economic Impact of the Proposed Rule on Small 
Entities

    As required by 5 U.S.C. 603(c), NMFS' analysis considered whether 
there are any significant alternatives to the proposed rule that would 
accomplish its stated objectives while minimizing any significant 
economic impact on small entities. To identify alternatives, NMFS took 
several information gathering actions. In 2016, NMFS held an Observer 
Provider Insurance Workshop (2016 Workshop), which was attended by 
marine insurance experts, observer providers, observer representatives, 
and officials from relevant Federal and state agencies. Additionally, 
in 2018, NMFS issues a Request for Information (2018 RFI) in which it 
asked for input on an appropriate suite of insurance and associated 
coverage amounts for observer providers (83 FR 32829, July 16, 2018). 
Through this engagement, NMFS identified no alternatives to the 
proposed rule that would reasonably address the unique risks that 
observer coverage presents for observer providers, observers, and the 
industry that is subject to observer coverage requirements. Therefore, 
NMFS analyzed only whether the proposed rule would have a significant 
adverse economic impact on observer providers, all of which are small 
entities.
    The question of whether this proposed rule would have a significant 
economic impact on the small entity observer providers depends upon 
whether carrying the required policies under the minimum national 
standard would result in increased premiums compared to the premiums 
that observer providers currently pay to comply with existing regional 
requirements. However, as described below, NMFS lacks the precise 
baseline information on existing premium costs that is necessary to 
determine, with any specificity the economic impact that may result 
from the proposed rule. NMFS attempted to obtain baseline information 
on current observer provider insurance premium costs through outreach 
to the six companies that provide observer services in a NMFS mandatory 
or voluntary observer program. However, these companies viewed 
insurance cost information as proprietary, and, therefore, declined to 
provide details of their insurance costs or estimates of what premium 
costs would be to comply with the proposed national minimum standard. 
Nonetheless, based on the limited information that these companies did 
provided, NMFS estimated that current observer provider insurance 
premiums cost less than $5,000 per employee. It is possible that the 
proposed rule could result in a decrease of premiums from the estimated 
$5,000 per employee baseline, due to cost savings from lower premiums, 
from the consolidation of policies, or from the cancellation of 
policies that are no longer necessary. It is also possible for a 
premium increase to an outer bound of $10,000 per employee if a company 
previously had no policy coverage at all. Using these general 
assumptions, NMFS developed ranges in observer provider premium changes 
that could result upon

[[Page 66267]]

implementation of the proposed rule (see table below).
    To form an accurate assessment of the economic impact that may 
result from the proposed rule, NMFS requests comment on the ranges 
described below. NMFS is seeking comments on two aspects of these 
premium ranges. Specifically, NMFS would like comments on whether the 
magnitude of the ranges described below accurately captures the likely 
premium changes that may result from the proposed rule. In addition, 
NMFS would like comments on which of these ranges is most likely to 
apply, should the proposed rule be finalized.

Proposed Action Estimated Ranges of Observer Provider Premium Changes

------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Insurance premium increases          Insurance premium decreases
------------------------------------------------------------------------
$0 to $2,500 per employee.................  $0 to $2,500 per employee.
$2,500 to $5,000 per employee.............  $2,500 to $5,000 per
                                             employee.
$5,000 to $7,500 per employee.............  $5,000 to $7,500 per
                                             employee.
$7,500 to $10,000 per employee............  $7,500 to $10,000 per
                                             employee.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

List of Subjects

50 CFR Part 600

    Administrative practice and procedure, Confidential business 
information, Fish, Fisheries, Fishing, Fishing vessels, Foreign 
relations, Intergovernmental relations, Penalties, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Statistics.

50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, Indians, Recreation and recreation areas, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Treaties.

50 CFR Part 679

    Alaska, Fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: November 16, 2021.
Samuel D. Rauch, III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, NOAA proposes to amend 50 
CFR parts 600, 648, 660, and 679 as follows:

PART 600--MAGNUSON-STEVENS ACT PROVISIONS

0
1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 600 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 561 and 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

0
2. In subpart H, add Sec.  600.748 to read as follows:


Sec.  600.748  National Minimum Observer Provider Insurance Standard.

    (a) Applicability. As part of regulations for observer provider 
companies to obtain approval or a permit to deploy a person in any 
mandatory or voluntary observer program, or regulations that specify 
approved or permitted observer provider responsibilities, NMFS must 
reference and ensure compliance with the following national minimum 
insurance standard.
    (b) Policies and Coverage Amounts. (1) Marine General Liability ($1 
million any one occurrence).
    (2) Marine Employers Liability ($1 million any one occurrence) for 
an observer provider that is authorized, or has applied to be 
authorized, to deploy observers or monitors at-sea.
    (3) State workers' compensation as required by each state in which 
the observer provider is authorized, or has applied to be authorized, 
to deploy observers or monitors at-sea or shoreside.
    (4) U.S. Longshore and Harbor Workers' Act coverage, either as a 
stand-alone policy or as a state workers' compensation policy 
endorsement, if that policy or a policy endorsement is required by the 
respective state(s) in which the observer provider is authorized, or 
has applied to be authorized, to deploy observers or monitors at-sea or 
shoreside.
    (5) Excess or umbrella coverage ($2 million any one occurrence).
    (c) Policy coverages. Coverage must extend to injury, liability, 
and accidental death during the period of employment, including 
training, of observers or monitors at-sea or shoreside.

PART 648--FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

0
3. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 648 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

0
4. In Sec.  648.11, revise the section heading and paragraph 
(h)(3)(vii) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.11  At-sea sampler/observer coverage.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (vii) Evidence of holding insurance specified at Sec.  600.748(b) 
and (c) of this chapter.
* * * * *
0
5. In Sec.  648.87, revise paragraph (b)(4)(i)(G) to read as follows:


Sec.  648.87  Sector allocation.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (4) * * *
    (i) * * *
    (G) Evidence of holding insurance specified at Sec.  600.748(b) and 
(c) of this chapter.
* * * * *

PART 660--FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES

0
6. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 660 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.; 773 et seq.; 7001 et seq.

0
7. In Sec.  660.17, revise paragraph (f)(1)(vii)(B) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.17   Catch monitor program.

* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (vii) * * *
    (B) The observer provider must submit copies of ``certificates of 
insurance,'' that names the Catch Monitor Program Coordinator as the 
``certificate holder'' to the Catch Monitor Program Office by February 
1 of each year. The certificates of insurance shall verify all coverage 
provisions specified at Sec.  600.748(b) and (c) of this chapter and 
state that the insurance company will notify the certificate holder if 
insurance coverage is changed or canceled.
* * * * *
0
8. In Sec.  660.140, revise paragraph (h)(5)(xi)(C) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.140  Shorebased IFQ Program.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *
    (5) * * *
    (xi) * * *
    (C) Certificates of insurance. The observer provider must submit 
copies of ``certificates of insurance'' that name the Northwest 
Fisheries Science Center Observer Program manager as the ``certificate 
holder'' to the Observer Program Office by February 1 of each year. The 
certificates of insurance shall verify all coverage provisions 
specified at Sec.  600.748(b) and (c) of this chapter and state that 
the insurance company will notify the certificate holder if insurance 
coverage is changed or canceled.
* * * * *

[[Page 66268]]

0
9. In Sec.  660.150, add paragraph (j)(4)(xi)(A)(6), and revise 
paragraph (j)(4)(xi)(B)(3) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.150  Mothership (MS) Coop Program.

* * * * *
    (j) * * *
    (4) * * *
    (xi) * * *
    (A) * * *
    (6) Certificates of insurance. The observer service provider must 
submit copies of ``certificates of insurance'' that name the Northwest 
Fisheries Science Center Observer Program manager as the ``certificate 
holder'' to the Observer Program Office by February 1 of each year. The 
certificates of insurance shall verify all coverage provisions 
specified at Sec.  600.748(b) and (c) of this chapter and state that 
the insurance company will notify the certificate holder if insurance 
coverage is changed or canceled.
* * * * *
    (B) * * *
    (3) Certificates of insurance. The observer provider must submit 
copies of ``certificates of insurance'' that name the Northwest 
Fisheries Science Center Observer Program manager as the ``certificate 
holder'' to the Observer Program Office by February 1 of each year. The 
certificates of insurance shall verify all coverage provisions 
specified at Sec.  600.748(b) and (c) of this chapter and state that 
the insurance company will notify the certificate holder if insurance 
coverage is changed or canceled.
* * * * *
0
10. In Sec.  660.160, add paragraph (g)(1)(iv) to read as follows:


Sec.  660.160  Catcher/processor (C/P) Coop Program.

* * * * *
    (g) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (v) Certificates of insurance. The observer provider must submit 
copies of ``certificates of insurance'' that name the Northwest 
Fisheries Science Center Observer Program manager as the ``certificate 
holder'' to the Observer Program Office by February 1 of each year. The 
certificates of insurance shall verify all coverage provisions 
specified at Sec.  600.748(b) and (c) of this chapter and state that 
the insurance company will notify the certificate holder if insurance 
coverage is changed or canceled.
* * * * *

PART 679--FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA

0
11. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 679 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 1801 et seq.; 3631 et seq.; 
Pub. L. 108-447; Pub. L. 111-281.

0
12. In Sec.  679.52, revise paragraph (b)(11)(vi) to read as follows:


Sec.  679.52   Observer provider permitting and responsibilities.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (11) * * *
    (vi) Certificates of insurance. Copies of ``certificates of 
insurance'' that name the NMFS Observer Program leader as the 
``certificate holder'' must be submitted to the Observer Program by 
February 1 of each year. The certificates of insurance shall verify all 
coverage provisions specified at Sec.  600.748(b) and (c) of this 
chapter and state that the insurance company will notify the 
certificate holder if insurance coverage is changed or canceled.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2021-25367 Filed 11-19-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P