From all indications, on August 14, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration commercial fishing monitors will be back looking for a journey unless NOAA steps in and waives the requirement for data-collecting observers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I'm not a big fan of the watchdogs in the first place, but especially now during this deadly pandemic. It's too risky and inessential to put their health in harm's way when monitoring cameras, already installed on most boats, can accurately collect the data without human liability.

Can you imagine trying to social distance on a fishing boat breaking waves? The information human observers collect can be temporarily gathered through electronic surveillance, but a momentary waiver has to come directly through your two U.S. Senators and one U.S. Representative in Washington. Let them know as soon as possible because if you don't email or call them now, don't think anyone else is going to do this for you.

Fishing fleets have enough on the line right now, hardly making a profit, with restaurants and schools not serving the normal volume of seafood. Now to add the extra culpability of risking an observer's health is unwarranted.

I've been told by reliable waterfront sources that NOAA has given out a few waivers already. This is a good sign to build upon, and your act of assistance is appreciated.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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