MAFAC Meeting October 1999
|Dr. D. James
Under Secretary for Oceans
U.S. Department of Commerce
Washington, D.C. 20230
Dear Dr. Baker:I am writing to report to you on the results of the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC) meeting held in Washington D.C. on October 26 - 28, 1999.
First, let me thank you for the participation of the many National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) employees who provided information and assistance to MAFAC at this meeting, and especially all of the office directors who helped our new members through the orientation program. Most important, we all greatly appreciate the time you spent with us on Wednesday morning and the suggestions you made regarding future actions that MAFAC can take to fulfill its role as an advisory committee to you.Following our meeting with you, we agreed on a number of tasks that MAFAC would undertake, either through its standing subcommittees, through ad hoc committees, or through MAFAC as a whole. The following is a brief description of the workload we have set for ourselves. The Fisheries Overcapacity Subcommittee agreed to provide recommendations to the Office of Sustainable Fisheries on the comprehensive fisheries investment plan which that Office will be preparing. We understand that the plan will be developed in early 2000 in preparation for the FAO meeting next November. Our subcommittee is now fully subscribed with the addition of three new MAFAC members. The Multi-Disciplinary Science Subcommittee forwarded two recommendations, which were adopted by MAFAC. First, MAFAC requests that NOAA evaluate the Marine Biodiversity Data Base which is being developed at the National Systematics Laboratory. If the evaluation is positive, which we believe it will be, then we request that it be put forward as a priority for continued funding. Second, MAFAC recommended that NMFS develop for public use, in understandable terms, an outline of what NMFS considers to be the definition of a "sustainable fishery" and the measures that are needed to achieve "sustainability". MAFAC recognized that many definitions exist, both legal and scientific, but that the average person has trouble deciding what it means and what NMFS expects from fisheries managers, scientists, and users. Having a commonly agreed upon definition and set of expectations will enhance fisheries science, conservation, and management.
Our Budget Subcommittee will be working with NOAA budget personnel to develop a list of budget themes which will be formally submitted by MAFAC to NOAA, the Councils, and the Commissions. MAFAC recommended to NOAA that necessary steps be taken to ensure that MAFAC is able to receive documentation and briefings concerning administration budget and legislative proposals while they are under consideration within the administration in order that MAFAC can provide advice that is timely, relevant, and useful.
Our Legislative Subcommittee reviewed a number of different topics and forwarded several recommendations to MAFAC. After extensive discussion, MAFAC suggested that NOAA aggressively pursue a lead agency role in coral reef protection efforts; requested that NOAA provide at the earliest possible date its draft legislative proposals concerning aquaculture and reauthorization of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act; and, by a vote of 10 in favor, 5 against, 1 abstaining, 1 not voting, and 3 absent, requested that the Secretary take appropriate action to halt shark finning in U.S. waters and to seek an international ban on such practice.
After discussion with Dr. Gary Matlock and his staff, MAFAC re-constituted a Vessel Management System (VMS) Task Force to work with Dr. Matlock's office in developing a VMS policy for the agency. We discussed ways in which the Task Force could operate more efficiently and at less cost to the agency and the Task Force members are working with Dr. Matlock's staff in implementing the program.
We also formed an Outreach Task Force to work with NMFS staff in developing and implementing outreach programs.
Finally, the Steering Committee, with the addition of other members, took on the job of developing the views / transition paper which you suggested to us. We hope to have a framework and first draft available for full MAFAC review at our spring meeting, with the final product due in the fall.
Our spring meeting will be held during the week of April 17, 2000, in Charleston, SC. We hope you will be able to join us. In the meantime, best wishes for the holiday season.