MAFAC Meeting May 2002
The Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC) met at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland Maine, May 7-9, 2002.
MAFAC members: Alvin Osterback, Industry Vice Chair, Dr. Bonnie Brown, Richard (Dick) Gutting, Elizabeth (Liz) Hamilton, Donald (Don) Kent, Melvin (Mel) Moon, Rodney (Rod) Moore, Jeffery (Jeff) Pike, Dr. LaVerne Ragster, Margaret (Maggie) Raymond, Patricia (Pat) Tummons, Percy Washington, Dr. Elizabeth (Betty) Wenner, Kathleen (Kate) Wynne, and Consultant, Randy Fisher.
National Marine Fisheries Service: Dr. Rebecca Lent, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, Jack Dunnigan, Director for the Office of Sustainable Fisheries, Alan Risenhoover, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Laurel Bryant, Executive Secretary for MAFAC.
Guests and public participants: George Lapointe, Commissioner, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Paul Howard, Executive Director of the New England Fishery Management Council, Dieter Busch, Director IEI, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, Barbara Stevenson, Council member and local commercial fishing vessel owner, and Bill Gesencer, Foley Fish Company.
MAFAC MEMBERS NOT IN ATTENDANCE:
Dr. Susan Hannah, Suzanne Iudicello-Martley, Dr. Charles Kidd, and James Leland
Following is a Summary Report of that meeting presented in chronological order.
Alvin Osterback, the Chair, opened the meeting by welcoming members and reviewing the agenda for the meeting. The morning agenda was dedicated to establishing some operational policies for the Committee and reviewing the Committee's structure of standing Subcommittees and Working Groups to determine whether they should continue and to make necessary modifications in their membership. A draft Operational Policy that had been discussed at the end of the November 2001 meeting in St.Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and drafted for consideration was discussed. Minor modifications were made and the final document unanimously approved by members (Attachment). The Operational Policy reflects the Committee's desire to affirm it's role as an advisory body to the Secretary of the Department of Commerce, and the operational need for identified contacts within NOAA Fisheries/NOAA areas of concern to ensure consistent and educated discourse on these matters. Discussion emphasized that appointments to the Committee by the Secretary ensure a continued diveristy in the composition of occupations, expertise and geography represented by its members. Lastly, advance briefing materials from the agency was emphasized with a preference for electronic documents as opposed to briefing notebooks.
The Chair then referenced members to the Committee's structure of standing Subcommittees and ad-hod working groups. After a thorough discussion, members unanimously agreed to eliminate the Steering Subcommittee finding that it's mission to deal with the Committee's budget, administration and meeting details were more appropriately dealt with in Full Committee. The Budget, Legislative and Multi-Disciplinary Science Subcommittees were retained as a successful means for the Committee to evaluate and develop advisory positions on the fundamental issues for which the Agency and Secretary are responsible. Alvin Osterback replaced the out-going Chair, Rod Moore, as the ex-officio member on each Subcommittee. The Fisheries Overcapacity, VMS, and Computer Working Groups were eliminated as they had accomplished their purpose or were no longer relevant as priority issue areas. The Committee decided the Outreach Work Group should be retained due to the Agency's continuing concerns regarding outreach and public education. The Ecosystem Task Force, established at the November 2001 meeting, was officially added to the current structure.
The Committee then discussed scheduling the time-frame for the next two meetings of MAFAC. The week of November 11, 2002 was identified as the time frame for a meeting in Washington, D.C. which would include orientation for newly appointed members. The Spring 2003 meeting was targeted for April 2003 but discussion on the details was deferred until the last day.
The Committee reconvened following lunch and were joined by Dr. Rebecca Lent, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs at NOAA Fisheries, and the new Director of Sustainable Fisheries, Jack Dunnigan, former Executive Director of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, a standing consultant position to the Committee.
Dr. Lent discussed a number of initiatives underway within the Agency. Dr. Lent distributed two internal memorandums from the Assistant Administrator to initiate a Five-year Review of the Agency's implementation of the Sustainable Fisheries Act, including compliance with the national standard guidelines. She requested the Committee assist the Agency in this review process and committed to keeping the Committee updated and involved in the process. Dr. Lent also discussed the Agency's on-going efforts to improve the coordination of its international responsibilities and activities. She announced that the establishment of a Western Pacific regional office within the agency is underway and noted that the issues affecting that region and currently managed by the Southwest Regional Office and Science Center will need to be carefully evaluated to determine any changes in jurisdictional responsibility. Dr. Lent also touched on the status of a Marine Protected Areas noting that the Fishery Management Council Chairs and Executive Directors have dedicated a significant portion of their agenda to discuss MPAs at their next meeting in Sitka, Alaska, in May 2002. Lastly, in response to the Committee's request that the agency utilize the Committee to receive advisory input on any draft legislative proposals from the Administration, Dr. Lent related Dr. Hogarth's decision that only until legislative drafts are approved as final by the Office of Management and Budget, can the Agency seek the Committee's advisory input.
Jack Dunnigan, Director of the Office of Sustainable Fisheries, discussed four issue areas: Status of reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (the Sustainable Fisheries Act, 1997 (SFA)); the Five-year Review of the SFA; Status of Stocks report to Congress; and the Council Appointment process. The Committee noted that the Administrator's testimony on the reauthorization of the SFA reflected the Committee's input. The Committee was also complimentary of the Status of Stocks report for 2001 and encouraged the agency to continue improving this report and utilizing it as a primary tool to document the successes in fisheries management. There was lengthy discussion of the reauthorization of SFA. George Lapointe, Commissioner of Maine's Department of Marine Resources attended part of the meeting as an observer and, at the invitation the Industry Vice Chair, made some brief comments.
Alan Risenhoover gave a presentation on the FY 2002 budget appropriation, status of the FY 2003 budget request, development of the FY 2004 budget request, and an overview of the Agency's continuing efforts to improve how the Agency allocates, spends, and explains its funding. Under the Annual Operating Plan process, the Agency has developed a web-based accounting of its expenditures broken down into budget task numbers that will allow tracking at various levels, including regional, programmatic and strategic goals as well as individual activity levels. Currently, the Alaska Regional Office and Science Center have adopted the Annual Operating Plan program and the Agency is in the process of working with the other field units to transition to the system. The Committee was complimentary of the progress that has been made and supportive of the transparency and measurability it will afford to better evaluate effectiveness of the Agency activities.
Dr. Bonnie Brown gave a presentation on the status of the Committee's Task Force on Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management Project that was established at the November 2001 meeting in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. In response to a request at that meeting by the Assistant Administrator, Dr. William Hogarth, for the Committee to suppor development of technical guidance for the Agency on implementation of ecosystem-based management and anticipated interest to legislatively include this concept in the reauthorization of the SFA, the Committee established a Task Force (Attached). The Task Force, comprised of a broad spectrum of expertise and interests, along with a Technical Committee established by the Agency to assist in the project, met in January 2002, in a three day Workshop. Dr. Brown described how the Task Force conducted a gap analysis of existing bodies of work on ecosystem management to identify areas where technical guidance would be most appropriate. Five Working Groups were established and work is underway to develop "white" papers that will provide descriptive details on these issues. The information will also be added to the draft technical guidance that is being prepared by Dieter Busch and Bonnie Brown (Task Force co-chairs). The draft guidance will be completed in early July for technical peer review and will be submitted to the full Committee at its next meeting for their review and approval. It is anticipated that in June the Agency may be requested for input on ecosystem-based management language included in draft legislation. To ensure Committee input members were be asked to review the draft white papers and submit comments via a website that has been established for the Committee, its Task Force and Technical Committee, to conduct an interactive drafting process.
The Committee expressed frustration that mention of the Ecosystem-based Task Force and its efforts-to-date were not mentioned in Bill Hogarth's May 2, 2002 testimony regarding reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and draft legislation that included ecosystem management language. Dr. Lent was empathetic to the oversight and acknowledge the need for better internal coordination within the Agency.
The Committee adjourned for the day at 5:00 pm.
The Committee Reconvened at 9 a.m. Jack Dunnigan gave a presentation on the Agency's activities to address the issue of bycatch in U.S. Fisheries. A petition for rulemaking was recently submitted by the non-governmental organization Oceana to the Department of Commerce requesting the Department to promulgate immediately a rule to establish a program to count, cap, and control bycatch in U.S. Fisheries. In response to the petition and the Five-year Review of the SFA provisions, including bycatch, the Agency formulated an internal Working Group to develop a response. The Agency requested the Committee to establish a parallel working group for the Agency to consult and receive advisory input from the Committee. In response, the Committee established a Bycatch Working Group (BWG) to work closely with the Agency's Working Group to provide advice regarding the Agency's response to the Oceana petition. The BWG will meet intersessionally to prepare a recommendation for the Full Committee to review, approve and forward to the Agency. The members include Maggie Raymond, Rod Moore, Liz Hamilton, Kate Wynne, and Larry Simpson. The NOAA Fisheries Point of Contact will be Val Chambers. Mr. Dunnigan noted that the BWG not only advise the Agency in its response to the petition, but also for the long-term consideration of bycatch as a critical element in the reauthorization of the SFA. Following the public comment period on the Oceana petition, the Agency's internal Working Group will compile the comments and forward to the Committee's BWG. It was suggested that the Agency include with its internal review of the bycatch issue, international activities that have been successful for reducing bycatch in foreign fisheries.
The Committee referenced its 1997 Bycatch report and noted it should be included as part of the overall reviews being conducted by both internal and MAFAC Bycatch Working Groups. Jeff Pike will provide a copy to Laurel Bryant for posting on the MAFAC webpage. The Committee also suggested NOAA Fisheris include identification of the successful efforts that have been made to reduce bycatch, including some of the private partnerships between fishermen and non-profit organizations. Jeff Pike referenced the partnership between the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and lobster fishermen to haul in ghost gear and implement quick-release gear. Mr. Pike noted that these efforts in themselves are measures of compliance that should be highlighted by NOAA Fisheries. The IFAW and NOAA Fisheries are co-sponsoring a workshop to bring together gear specialists, manufacturers, and fishermen to discuss whale friendly gear. An annual report on bycatch, similar to status of stocks report, was suggested as something NOAA Fisheries should develop.
The Chair then recognized Dr. Lent to discuss the status of NOAA Fisheries Regulatory Streamlining Project. Dr. Lent explained the various components involved with NOAA Fisheries desire to "front load" the National Environmental Protection Act process to ensure that all the documentation and assessments necessary for compliance with NEPA, SFA, ESA and MMPA have been completed prior to a Fishery Management Council developing a fishery management plan. In addition, the RSP is emphasizing the need to delegate as much as possible to the Regions and Centers where the relevant expertise exists and decisions can be better coordinated and more timely. Although MAFAC was supportive of maximizing efficiency through Regional authority, it was acknowledged that the current practice of an individual employee being responsible for both the drafting and analysis of an action has lead to mistrust of the system and that NOAA Fisheries needs to maintain a check on the system with a "second pair of eyes" to review actions. Dr. Lent also mentioned that emphasis was being placed on obtaining the human capital necessary to adequately implement and comply with the interactive layers of NEPA, SFA, ESA and even MMPA. Jack Dunnigan discussed the need to "recouple" the Fishery Management Plan process with the drafting of regulations.
The MAFAC was very supportive of these efforts and emphasized the need to invest in the human capital necessary for the project to be successful. Members also encouraged the Agency to invest in ongoing professional training of NOAA Fisheries employees to improve the level of expertise available to comply with the mandates under which the Agency operates. There was interest in helping NOAA Fisheries ensure cooperation from NOAA, the Department and OMB to support this effort and "fix" the many problems that continue to undermine the credibility of the government. Dr. Lent and Jack Dunnigan assured the members that Dr. Hogarth had been personally involved with representatives of NOAA, DOC and OMB to emphasize the importance of this project and its success. Several members encouraged NOAA Fisheries to improve the coordination between the Agency and the Councils and address the confusion that exists between who is responsible for what. Paul Howard, Executive Director of the New England Fishery Management Council, a guest presenter at the meeting commented on the need to improve the flexibility available to the Councils for amending Fishery Management Plans to ensure their effectiveness. In addition, he referenced the New England Council's use of the Center for Independent Experts as an option for NOAA Fisheries utilize in reviewing fishery management plans.
The Committee reconvened following lunch and received a presentation by Alan Risenhoover on an initiative to improve the agency's performance measures and the Administration's interest in developing measurable out-puts that are perceived as more commensurate with budgetary inputs. The Committee responded that the Agency should view this as an opportunity to highlight and emphasize the necessary incremental investments and steps ("Outputs") that have been made and are working toward the Agency's over all strategic missions ("Outcomes"). Two Committee members, Richard Gutting and Randy Fisher (Consultant to the Committee), have been invited to participate in a facilitated workshop in Washington, D.C. on June 11-13, 2002 at the Hotel Washington. Those members will report back to the full Committee via electronic e-mail. In addition, the resulting draft workshop report will be forwarded to MAFAC for their input and comment at the next MAFAC meeting in November 2002. Input from the Committee is due to the Assistant Administrator and Alan Risenhoover by December 2002.
Jack Dunnigan gave a brief overview of several activities underway to examine Individual Fishing Quotas and the inclusion of IFQs in the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The NOAA Fisheries has been asked to comment on draft MSA legislation containing IFQ provisions. It was noted that the new Administration appears supportive of market-based approaches to management. Mr. Dunnigan also informed members that an IFQ study is being conducted by the General Accounting Office who interviewed NOAA Fisheries for its input. The study is expected to be completed in August 2002. Lastly, at the request of NOAA Fisheries, the H.J. Heinz III Center is conducting a stakeholders meeting on IFQs in Galveston, TX, May 6-8, 2002. Participants will represent four groups: industry; government; academia; and conservation organizations. NOAA Fisheries is sending two participants and a few observers. A report will be prepared by Heinz staff and will become part of the discussions. The MAFAC report on IFQ's in 2000 was submitted to the Heinz Center as part of the background documentation. Drafts of this report will be shared with MAFAC for their review and input when it becomes available.
In response to the discussions of bycatch, IFQs, ecosystem management, and their inclusion in the House Resources draft MSA legislation submitted to NOAA Fisheries for comment, Jeff Pike suggested that the Legislative Subcommittee convene to review and develop some comments to forward to NOAA Fisheries.
Paul Howard, Executive Director, New England Fisheries Management Council then gave the Committee a presentation on these status of various fishery issues occurring in New England, including the dramatic progress that has been made in rebuilding overfished stocks, the lessons learned from the past, and the challenges ahead. The recent court actions in New England and the groundfishery were discussed by the Committee and visiting guests and two members of the public who attended that day's meeting. In addition to the New England court case, other members of MAFAC shared their own experiences with court cases against NOAA Fisheries and the resulting outcomes. A lengthy discussion ensued regarding the legal representation available to NOAA Fisheries through the Department of Justice (DOJ). Members and participants shared their mutual concerns that there was a lack of adequate legal representation. The Committee discussed the need for the Chair to include a statement in his meeting summary to the Secretary of Commerce that this is a matter of serious concern that merits attention from the Department.
The Committee adjourned at 5:00 p.m. and were treated to a reception hosted by the Maine Fishermen's Wives Association and Barbara Stevenson.
The Committee Re-convened at 8a.m. The Outreach Working Group requested whether or not there were topics they should be reviewing for comment between now and the next meeting in November. Laurel Bryant, Designated Federal Official to MAFAC and Outreach and Education Team Coordinator at NOAA Fisheries headquarters referenced the activities to enhance fisheries extension work with Sea Grant, and an outreach strategy presentation anticipated for the Assistant Administrator in June. A summary and any actions resulting from these to initiatives will be forwarded to the Outreach Working Group.
The November 2002 meeting in Washington, D.C. was discussed for the week of November 11th. Copies of MAFAC's reports and meetings need to be made available to the newly appointed members as part of their advance materials and orientation meeting. The Agenda will include follow-up on bycatch, performance measures and legal defense of NOAA Fisheries by the DOJ. Members would like representatives from DOJ as well as NOAA Fisheries and NOAA General Council to attend.
The Spring meeting will be in April 2003 in Monterey, California. San Francisco and San Diego are the alternatives choices respectively.
Respectfully Submitted ,