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NOAA Fisheries
Office of Constituent Services
Recreational Fisheries Working Group

MAFAC Meeting April 2000

MAFAC Budget Subcomittee Report
April 20, 2000

The Budget Subcommittee of MAFAC met Tuesday April 18, 2000. Subcommittee members present were Melvin Moon, Jack Dunnigan, Rod Moore, Suzanne Iudicello, and NMFS liaison Alan Risenhoover.

The Subcommittee heard a presentation from Alan Risenhoover on an independent NMFS budget review that is underway. The purpose of the review is to lookat agency resources and whether they are sufficient to do the job required, focus on FY2000 and FY2001, and produce a report in time to affect the FY2001 appropriations process. The objective is to complete the review and report in the next 60 to 90 days. Among issues the reviewers will examine are staffing requirements, program requirements, and analysis of congressional earmarks. The review will take a "zero-based" approach to the analysis.

Risenhoover presented a series of graphs summarizing the erosion of the base sector of the NMFS budget over the past 5-6 years. Committee questions and discussion raised several points about the independent review and the presentation of the summary information:

  • In finding a replacement for Dr. Scott Parsons of Canada's Dept. of Oceans and Fisheries, strive to name a person of comparable "arm' s length" qualities to ensure the independent nature of the review.
  • The list of both agency and external sources for interviews was comprehensive, but the team leadership has the appearance of being too connected to the agency. The core report team may need to be expanded to be considered as truly "independent."
  • In structuring the review, look ahead to the audience for the report. Consider what they want to hear, what they need to know, how they will best receive the information. For example, in telling the story about earmarks, rather than characterizing them as part of the cause for the erosion of the agency' s base, find a way to tell the story or show those amounts as integrated into the agency' s budget and work.
  • In developing visuals, be sure they clearly relate the whole story. For example, some of the stacked bar graphs either assume knowledge on part of the viewer, or have to be explained in terms of what is "not shown." Be sure they show everything you want audience to know.

The second topic covered by the Subcommittee was the development of the FY2002 budget. Risenhoover briefed the group on the status of the budget preparation. The agency has compiled areas and requests that will be forwarded to the Department of Commerce June 1. A summary of the budget guidance and topic areas is included in the briefing materials at Tab 8. The Subcommittee recognized this as a window of opportunity to articulate themes and priorities that could be sent to Commerce with the budget request as the views of MAFAC.

Continued discussions throughout the MAFAC meeting produced the following list of themes and priorities. Stopping the erosion of NMFS current level of service is a basic priority.  

Improving the Information Base for Fisheries Conservation and Management

  • Implement and strengthen cooperative fishery dependent data collection programs, such as ACCSP, AKFIN, GULF FIN, PACFIN, etc.
  • Diversify fishery independent data collection by working with constituency partners (states, industry, NGOs, universities, Tribes).
  • Continue procurement of new dedicated fishery research vessels.
  • Increase capability to collect basic resource information (stock assessments, biological info).
  • Improve and expand observer and logbook program.

Linking Research to Management Needs

  • Substantially increase socio-economic research and data analysis.
  • Increase and improve integration of environmental information affecting fish and marine mammal populations.
  • Expand use of MOUs and other agreements with affected states and tribes to provide access to and exchange of agency technology, data and research.

Serving Constituents

  • Substantially improve public communication and outreach.
  • Increase understanding and effective participation process through education.
  • Continue and expand involvement of fishermen in data gathering.
  • Develop communications avenues with state and tribal managers to solicit views on priority problems and needs.

Protecting Habitat

  • Develop relationships of habitat to species with science provided by state-tribal-federal and other groups.
  • Complete identification and analysis of essential fish habitat.
  • Provide resources sufficient to respond to activities that affect essential fish habitat.
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