MAFAC Meeting November 2000
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
The Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC) met at the Crowne Plaza LaGuardia Airport Hotel in East Elmhurst, New York, November 8-10, 2000. The following is a Summary Report of that meeting presented in chronological order.
Rod Moore, Industry Vice Chair, opened the meeting by welcoming the members and reviewing the agenda for the meeting. Since most of the meeting would focus on the preparation of the "Views Paper" to present to Dr. Baker and the Transition Team, subcommittee meetings and reports were eliminated from the agenda. The following presentations and discussions preceded drafting of the paper.
Penny Dalton, Vice Chair, welcomed the members and expressed regrets that Bill Hogarth, Deputy Administrator for Fisheries, could not attend. Penny deferred her remarks to later in the day.
Alan Risenhoover, Deputy Director, Office of Operations, Management and information, provided an update on the status of the 2001 and 2002 budget process and numbers. The House had passed the Commerce bill in June, but the Senate had not, issuing its committee report in early September. The House and Senate went to Conference and completed the bill on October 26. The final "number" for NMFS was $756 million which is up about $201 million from last year, total. Their amount represents Operations, Research and Facilities and does not include special programs. Funding included the Pacific salmon recovery, data collection, red snapper research, CARA, land Legacy, cooperative research, West Coast ground fish research, Atlantic salmon recovery, Atlantic right whales, community-based restoration, marine mammal stranding and aquaculture.
An interesting budget fact is that NMFS manages about 117 separate accounts which cannot be moved back and forth among each other without a reprogramming notification making it a very complex budget to manage.
The bill has not been submitted to the President. The agency is operating under a Continuing Resolution until November 14. Alan covered the conference bill in more detail during his remarks.
The 2002 budget is currently at OMB for review. Since it involves a change of administration, the budget was formed based on "themes": a current service budget that maintains the current level of services provided; costs that increase every year; halting the erosion of base programs; and, modernization based on improved additional information.
Detailed budget information and number were provided in the Briefing Book.
Roger Giffs, Policy Advisor, NOAA Office of Policy and Strategic Planning, spoke on the Marine Protected Areas Executive Order. He thanked MAFAC member for the statement the group prepared in 1999 about the MPAs that helped form the order as written. President Clinton issued Executive Order #13158 in May of 2000 that addressed five general areas:
NOAA, in cooperation with the Department of the Interior, will: 1. Create and manage an Advisory Committee to provide recommendation for developing a science-based national system of MPAs; 2. Produce and maintain an Inventory of all US MPAs 3. Create and manage a web site providing information on MPAs; 4. Establish an MPA Center to develop a framework for a national system of MPAs and provide information, technologies and strategies to support the system; and, 5. Consult with the states, territories, tribes and other entities.
Several MAFAC members have been nominated to serve on the Advisory Committee. The NMFS Santa Cruz laboratory has been designated as the Research Center, and NMFS has committed on FTE for the Center to date.
An intense dialogue ensued regarding all the aspects of the MPA notice and implementation. Some issues concern that MAFAC identified with the MPA initiative include the science underlying the initiative, effectiveness of the initiative, and lack of consultation with user groups. MAFAC will continue a close working relationship with the MPA MAFAC Committee, when formed, and the oversight agencies.
Laurel Bryant provided an update on several projects under development in the outreach area. The Constituent Data Base has been tested on MAFAC members recently and appears to have been successful. Full implementation is imminent. A Fish News Listserv, (Constituent Communications System by e-mail) is also under development, its primary purpose being to notify users of current Federal Register activities having an immediate/emergency impact. It will also be used for stakeholder meetings, calendars, heads-up on significant issues, etc., and hopefully be linked to the NMFS Web Site. The newly designed Website (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov) will have a MAFAC page with significant information about the group and its accomplishments. The "View paper" developed for the Transition Team could be available on the web site for public information.
Penny Dalton, AA for Fisheries, identified her view of the following ten challenges facing the National Marine Fisheries Service currently and in the future:
1. Fisheries Modernization: MAFAC could play a large roll in this area. The modernization program looks at where the agency should be in 5 to 10 years relative to technology (vessels, VMS, bycatch, extending fishing seasons and environmental sensitivity, etc.), and organization (partnerships, cooperative research, cooperative enforcement, etc.), matching a budget to the specific activity.
2. National Environmental Policy Act: Many of the NMFS lawsuits are a result of noncompliance or violations of the NEPA and the Administrative Procedures Act. An assessment and status of the status and NMFS compliance are necessary to begin addressing better adherence to the law.
3. Conservation and Recovery of Protected Species: Species such as steller sea lions, sea turtles, monk seals, and Pacific salmon have had a major impact on various regions. The challenge for NMFS is the balance between acting as a regulatory agency and implementing the Endangered Species Act.
4. Ecosystem Management: The responsibility to review the impacts of human activities on both the human environment and the marine environment is part of ecosystem management. Harvesting healthy stocks while discarding troubled stocks is another element of this management system. A couple of pilot projects (Coral Reef & Chesapeake Bay) will help examine improving ecosystem management in fisheries.
5. Constituent Relations: A reorganization proposal in NMFS involving the establishment of an Office of Constituent Affairs had been stalled in the approval process. The missions and goals of this focused office would address some constituent concerns.
6. Marine Protected Areas: The use of MPAs as a management tool has been in existence for many years. There is a need for a coherent policy and definition of MPAs. Instead of viewing MPAs as a no take zone, special protection need to be applied to deal with s specific issues or problems in the resource to be managed.
7. Aquaculture: The Lands legacy initiative has added additional money into NMFS aquaculture program. Partnering with Sea Grant has enhanced the existing program. Aquaculture research at the Milford and Manchester labs should be increased. Our role in aquaculture needs to be further defined.
8. Scientific Personnel: It is estimated that approximately 50% of the NMFS scientific personnel will be eligible to retire within the next five years; and, hiring for high level positions takes an enormous amount of time. These issues need to be addressed now in focusing on future impacts.
9. Environmental Variability: This appears as a cross cutting issue with some of the other NOAA Line Offices. It is demonstrated in steller sea lion and salmon issues.
10. Budget Erosion: This topic was discussed earlier during Alan Risenhoover's presentation. It is a major challenge for the agency.
A lively and intense discussion followed Penny's presentation. All agreed that the list was excellent and captured the challenges facing the agency in the days ahead. Members provided comments on all the issues.
The afternoon concluded with a presentation by Penny of a letter and plaque to Brooks Tanenaka in appreciation and thanks for serving two dedicated consecutive terms as a MAFAC Member. His second term expired in September.
The Full Committee met in the morning to continue the final draft of the "Views Paper" requested by Dr. Baker to be presented to the Transition Team.
In the afternoon members were escorted to York College. As guests of Dr. Charles Kidd, President for York College and MAFAC member, committee members conducted a special dialogue with faculty and students regarding opportunities in marine science and related areas. Dr. Kidd also arranged a tour of the food and Drug Administration's new laboratory located on the campus of York College. Both events were most informative and interesting for the members. That evening Dr. and Mrs. Kidd graciously hosted an exceptional reception and dinner for members and guests.
Foundation and Interns:
Suzanne Martley collected individual contributions to the York College foundation as a tribute and thanks to Dr. and Mrs. Kidd for their kind and gracious hospitality.
Betty Wenner offered to compile a list of possible internships for the York College students to explore in the areas of interest represented by the MAFAC Members.
Steering Committee Report:
Rod Moore announced that the next meeting would be held April 23-26, 2001, at Orange Beach, Alabama. Ms. Bobbie Walker, former MAFAC member, offered to be host of a social gathering.
Topics for the next meeting would include briefing the new Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere and the new Administrator for Fisheries regarding the purpose of MAFAC, as well as discussing the issues contained in the "View Paper." Updates on the budget and legislative agendas are standard topics for presentation and discussion. A follow-up to the Marine Protected Areas discussion and ecosystem management would also be included. Subcommittee chairs will consult with their members for significant issues to be addressed.
"Views Paper" Discussion:
The draft of the transition report was completed. Betty Wenner volunteered to draft a final version of the "Views Paper" and distribute it to the members by e-mail for final comment.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:25 a.m.
Laurel Bryant (Original Signed, April 11, 2001)