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MAFAC Meeting April 2000


U.S. Department of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee

June 8, 2000

Dr. D. James Baker
Under Secretary for Oceans
and Atmosphere
U.S. Department of Commerce
Washington, D.C. 20230

Dear Dr. Baker:

I am writing to report to you on the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC) meeting held in Charleston, SC on April 18 - 20, 2000. This meeting was designed as a working meeting to continue efforts begun in Washington, D.C. last year. While I will provide you with a brief summary and copies of relevant committee reports, the formal minutes will be forwarded by Ms. Elizabeth Cano, our designated federal official.

One overarching concern of MAFAC members is the lack of feedback they receive to the advice that they provide. Members are concerned that their time - and the taxpayers' dollars - are spent wisely. While response has been excellent in some areas - budget and outreach, for example - in other cases it appears that advice is ignored. In this vein, please note two items in particular: the Overcapacity Committee has prepared a list of specific questions regarding NOAA policy which they believe need to be answered before they can complete their work; and, under separate cover, you will receive a letter from me on behalf of MAFAC regarding a proposed new FACA-chartered committee to examine marine protected areas. Response to these two issues from you or your staff prior to our November meeting would be appreciated.

The VMS Working Group discussed the two public meetings on VMS that had been held prior to our meeting in Charleston. They also reviewed the draft VMS information paper prepared by NMFS' Office of Sustainable Fisheries. MAFAC agreed that the draft could be simplified in order to better elicit responses from the public and the VMS Working Group was tasked with editing and disseminating a new version. (Attachment #1).

The Overcapacity Committee raised a number of questions in regard to NOAA policy and intentions on addressing overcapacity. Again, MAFAC requests that you or your staff provide answers to the questions raised prior to our November meeting (Attachment #2).

The Outreach Working Group provided a series of recommendations on how NMFS can improve communications both internally and externally. A key finding of the group, which was endorsed by MAFAC, is that "communication / outreach - both external and internal - is the basis for many of the problems faced by the National Marine Fisheries Service." The Working Group's report is enclosed (Attachment #3).

The Budget Committee provided a list of themes and priorities for NOAA budgeting. MAFAC agreed with the committee that "stopping the erosion of NMFS' current level of service is a basic priority." The committee also made recommendations regarding the independent NMFS budget review that is now underway. Among these was an expressed concern that the list of reviewers did not represent enough independence if the review is to be meaningful (Attachment #4).

The Legislative Committee spent most of its time discussing proposed guidelines that could be established in conjunction with termination of the legislated moratorium on Individual Quota programs. I note here that the draft NOAA proposal for re-authorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which our members received just this week, contains no reference to the moratorium or guidelines for IQ programs. It also does not appear to reflect discussions held with NMFS staff during our Spring, 1999, meeting.

Finally, MAFAC continued work on developing a views paper on NMFS, which we hope to make final in November.

Our next meeting will be held in New York City on November 8 - 10, 2000. We will be hosted by Dr. Charles Kidd, President of York College and a MAFAC member. We look forward to seeing his campus and interacting with his students. We hope that this will in some small way contribute to furthering NOAA outreach programs.




Rod Moore
Industry Vice-Chair

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