MAFAC Meeting December 2003
Tuesday December 9, 2003
Full Committee Convened at 9 AM
Alvin Osterback, Industry Vice Chair, opened the meeting with a summary of the agenda and housekeeping items and turned the meeting over to the Vice Chair, Dr. William (Bill) Hogarth, who introduced his attending leadership staff and reviewed a number of changes within agency personnel. He also provided a general assessment of the “Managing the Nation’s Fisheries” conference held in Washington D.C. early in November 2003 and Admiral Lautenbacher’s interest in holding a similar event later in 2004. Dr. Hogarth then went on to detail his priorities for the agency and his interest in getting MAFAC’s review and recommendations on these issues as they develop.
Dr. Hogarth noted that since the Committee had completed its assigned work at the last meeting in May 2003 (the ecosystem-based fisheries management guidelines report), he wanted to take the opportunity at this meeting to discuss his top ten priorities for the agency and determine which issues and activities MAFAC can assist with and how they can best assist. These ‘Top Ten’ issues include: 1) Review of National Standard 1 guidelines, 2) Explore Ecosystem-based management; 3) Stabilize fisheries for maximum economic benefit and improve rebuilding plans; 4) Increase communication and cooperative research with industry; 5) Promote U.S. seafood; 6) Incorporate ocean observing system; 7) Minimize bycatch and develop new gear technology; 8) Develop pilot projects in aquaculture; 9) Improve timeliness and responsiveness in management; and 10) Export gear technology internationally to help recover endangered species. The results of these discussions and actions taken by MAFAC are included under the presentation and report summaries below.
In addition to Dr. Hogarth’s top ten issues, he also conducted a lengthy discussion over his concerns over the collection of recreational fishing data. Dr. Hogarth referenced that NMFS was in the initial discussions with each of the state commissions to take a look at a uniform national data collection system. He referenced that the Marine Recreational Fishing Statistical Survey is a good system. He believes it was intended for long-term trends but that now it is being utilized for managing quotas which is well beyond what it was intended for. Dr. Hogarth referenced a number of alternatives to be explored, including uniform data collection and reporting from all states, a federal recreational license, possibly turning over data collection to the states. In response to this discussion, the Committee posted a sign-up sheet for interested members to form a subcommittee to work with NMFS to outline the issues, options and formulate any recommendations. The final Subcommittee membership is listed below under Thursday’s discussion.
Ocean Commission – Status
and Review: The Committee heard from Dr. Paul
Sandifer, Senior Scientist, National Centers for Coastal
Ocean Science, National Ocean Service, Charleston, South
Carolina, and Chairman of the Ocean Commission’s
Stewardship Working Group. Dr. Sandifer gave the Committee
an overview of the process the Ocean Commission followed
in gathering information and facilitating involvement
by the multitude of interests and sectors involved with
ocean stewardship. Although the Commission had not yet
completed its report at the time of this MAFAC meeting,
Dr. Sandifer summarized some of the key issue areas the
Commission would focus on in its final report including
regional ecosystem management entities, a National Ocean
Council, the value of the fisheries management council
process, training of council members, membership balance,
allocation versus science, and potential pilot projects
where the concept of a regional ecosystem management
process could be developed. According to Dr. Sandifer,
the Ocean Commission was extremely cognizant of the need
to not burden the fishery management council process
with any additional bureaucracy or layers of decision-making.
Dr. Sandifer noted a pre-final draft of the report would
be sent to Governors for their final review and input
sometime after the first of the year in 2004. Following
his report, Dr. Sandifer engaged in a lengthy discussion
and debate with MAFAC regarding some of the draft recommendations.
National Standard One Guidelines (NS1G): Richard (Rick) Methot, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, Northwest Science Center, gave a detailed overview of the status and process the agency’s internal NS1G Working Group has undertaken to develop a proposed rule to modify the NS1G for preventing overfishing in U.S. fisheries. As currently written NS1Gs have often proven difficult for achieving their intended purpose. The Committee held a lengthy discussion about NS1Gs at both their January and May 2003 meetings. Rick Methot’s presentation identified the scope of input and alternatives that have been suggested for improvements including explanations of which alternatives have been rejected and why. A proposed rule to modify NS1G is anticipated early in 2004.
The Committee universally praised Richard Methot and the Agency for such a clear presentation and explanation of the decision-making process. It was suggested the NS1G Working Group process serve as a model for the agency to deal with ecosystem management, aquaculture and bycatch, and that the presentation form be adopted by the agency for other reports and presentations. It was suggested that there is an urgent need for a comprehensive policy to provide for “sustainable-economic fisheries” which would include buybacks, individual transferable quotas, overcapitalization, processor quotas, etc… An analogy was made to the current domestic policies ensuring economic sustainability of food production and that the Agency adopt a similar approach by establishing an internal, interdisciplinary working group to begin addressing this long-term issue.
Based on Richard Methot’s presentation and following discussion, the MAFAC NS1G Working Group reported a series of recommendations to the Agency (attached) that were ‘Adopted’ unanimously by the Committee on December 11, 2003.
Implementing the Endangered Species Act (ESA) – Summary & Discussion: Laurie Allen, Director of the Office of Protected Resources, provided a brief overview of the challenges and efforts underway to improve coordination between the requirements and goals of the ESA and the Marine Mammal Protection Act and how they relate to fisheries management. An in-depth discussion over issues raised by Members and the problems relevant to their regions occurred. Dr. Hogarth and Laurie Allen detailed a number of key items that the agency would like MAFAC to review for advisory comment and recommendation including the prospect of utilizing MAFAC as a sounding board to develop a coherent framework to address ESA, MMPA and fisheries management requirements. Laurie Allen agreed to provide a listing of issues and background materials as follow-up to this meeting and in preparation for an in-depth session at the next MAFAC meeting scheduled for August 2004, in Alaska. Some of the specific issues include Zero Mortality Rate Goal, population stabilization and Section 6 Cooperative Agreements with states. Members advised that protected resource issues fit well into the larger issue of ecosystem management and that such an approach may be the most beneficial strategy for dealing with these issues in a comprehensive manner and gaining the necessary support for change.
Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) – Summary & Status: Rolland Schmitten, Director of the Office of Habitat Conservation, gave a brief summary of the Announced Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPR) for EFH, published the week before in the Federal Register. Mr. Schmitten reviewed some of the ongoing difficulties with EFH guidelines as currently implemented. He explained the agency’s interest in improving EFH guidelines, the need for mapping, developing better criteria by which to identify priority habitat essential to fisheries, etc… he also noted that the Pacific Fisheries Management Council’s mapping process is a potential model. Until our knowledge base of life cycles and habitat relations expands it is suggested that a system of tiered priorities be identified through the use of ‘habitat areas of particular concern’ (HAPCs) for target species. It was suggested that much of the EFH debate is being driven by organizations concerned about deep-water corals. Ecosystem management was identified as the most appropriate way the agency should begin to deal with EFH issues. Dr. Hogarth later requested (December 11, 2003) that the Members review and comment on the ANPR and the Proposed Rule, scheduled for January or February of 2004, so that their comments can be discussed at the next meeting in August 2004.
Meeting Adjourned for the day at 4:30 PM
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
5:45 – 8:00 AM Tour of Fulton Fish Market
9 AM Full Committee Re-Convened
Alvin Osterback called the meeting to order and initiated the follow-up discussion of the key issues identified at the regional constituent sessions that Dr. Hogarth had requested the Committee to further distill into a list of the top five priorities for the agency to more aggressively pursue. The list of key issues identified by constituents included: Marine Aquaculture; Bycatch Reduction; Councils; Ecosystem Management; Economic, Social Issues; Essential Fish Habitat; Infrastructure – land-based; Management/Magnuson-Stevens Act; Marine Mammals; Marine Protected Areas; NOAA Leadership; Overcapitalization/Rationalization; Pew and National Commissions; Regulatory Streamlining; Science/Data/Observers; and Regional Issues.
After lengthy discussion the Committee identified the following five priorities: Bycatch; Science (including an emphasis on recreational fisheries data collection); Economics (combining both social economics and infrastructure investments); Regulatory Streamlining; Ecosystem Management (agency should include both EFH and marine mammal management into its ecosystem management activities); and Overcapacity. There was further discussion on the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation & Management Act and on the pending report by the National Oceans Commission. While these two ‘issues’ were not included with the resulting top five, the Committee noted these issues were ongoing within the Agency and that the Committee intends to continue serving as an ongoing advisory body to the Agency as these matters proceed throughout the coming years.
Industry Vice-Chair Osterback recognized Professor Tony DiLernia, Outreach Subcommittee Chair, and Mr. Ralph Rayburn, Bycatch Subcommittee Chair, to conduct a joint subcommittee of the whole to consider the various bycatch related documents including the National Bycatch Working Group report and regional bycatch implementation plans currently being reviewed by the agency.
National Bycatch Strategy & Implementation Plans – Possible Collaboration in Outreach with Sea Grant: In response to Dr. Hogarth’s request that MAFAC provide recommendations for implementing the National Bycatch Plan, the Bycatch and Outreach subcommittees coordinated a day for the full Committee to examine the National Bycatch Strategy, the development of standardized reporting criteria and implementation of the five regional bycatch plans. A key area of interest was the importance of communication and outreach to fishing communities for effective implementation. To help develop effective communication and outreach strategies for the agency to consider, Bycatch Subcommittee Chair, Ralph Rayburn of Texas A&M Sea Grant, suggested inviting the Director of Sea Grant’s National Extension Program, Jim Murray, to participate in the day-long meeting. In addition to Dr. Murray, the Sea Grant Extension Agent from Cornell University in New York, Antoinette Clementson, also participated in discussions. Following a detailed presentation on the National Bycatch Strategy and the NMFS Bycatch Working Group process, a daylong preliminary examination and discussion occurred on the agency’s bycatch initiatives and mandates.
In conclusion, the Committee recommended to Dr. Hogarth and his attending staff that implementing the regional bycatch plans presented the Agency and Sea Grant with an opportunity to establish a mutually beneficial partnership. Capitalizing on the outreach expertise and resources of Sea Grant’s Extension Program, the Agency should design and implement educational outreach programs to fishing communities targeted within the Agency’s regional bycatch reduction plans. The Committee made a motion for bycatch implementation outreach strategies to be a primary focus of the next meeting and to invite the Director of Sea Grant, along with Jim Murray and Sea Grant Extension personnel from the region to participate. Dr. Hogarth agreed and plans to include the Agency’s regional Bycatch Working Group representatives to attend the meeting as well.
At the conclusion of the Joint Subcommittee of the Whole, Chair DiLernia and Chair Rayburn adjourned the Joint Subcommittee and the Committee Vice-Chair reconvened the full committee to discuss administrative matters.
Meeting Adjourned for the day at 4:30 PM
Thursday, December 11, 2003
7:30 – 9:30 Tour of NY Stock Exchange
Full Committee Convened at 10:30 AM
Alvin Osterback opened the meeting with a review of the remaining agenda and final items. Dr. Hogarth introduced the next speaker, Bonnie Morehouse, Director of NOAA’s Office of Program Planning and Budget System. He referenced the Committee’s long-term interest and impact on the Agency’s budget planning process noting improvements made in stabilizing the Agency’s base budget and working toward more transparent budgets with measurable results.
Program Planning & Budget System within NOAA: Bonnie Morehouse, Director, NOAA’s Office of Program Analysis & Evaluation. Ms. Morehouse gave a presentation explaining both the philosophy and the process behind NOAA’s new program planning and budget system to provide the public and the Administration with a more transparent and accountable system for doing business and adjusting to the changing needs and priorities of NOAA to achieve its mission. The Members were appreciative of the opportunity to meet with a representative of NOAA and discuss some of their concerns over various activities within the Agency that were difficult to ‘measure’ in terms of immediate results but that were nonetheless critical to achieving the Agency’s mission. Ms. Morehouse acknowledge their concerns, noting the difficulties of implementing change, especially during the first year, and that she anticipates the process to improve in following years.
NOAA Fisheries’ Budget Status & Annual Operating Planning Process: Alan Risenhoover, Deputy Director, Office of Management and Budget, NOAA Fisheries, gave a detailed presentation of the status for Fiscal Years 2003 expenditures, 2004 appropriations, 2005 budget priorities and 2006 program planning. Mr. Risenhoover responded to various questions from Members regarding the status of various programs within NOAA Fisheries and how they aligned with NOAA’s new strategic plan and the budgeting process.
National Standard One Guidelines Working Group Report: Rod Moore, Working Group Chair of the NS1G Working Group gave a review of the report (attached) detailing eight recommendations for the Agency to pursue in its efforts to modify the NS1G through a proposed rule. The Members encouraged NMFS to maintain its Working Group as an ongoing project and to periodically review NS1G as new scientific information becomes available. Also, the Working Group should consider reviewing the original scientific work on which some of the principals of the NS1G were premised (specifically Restrepo’s work regarding precautionary approaches). In addition, NMFS Working Group should expand its scope to include examination of the other National Standards and how they relate to each other. The Committee also praised Dr. Richard Methot for his presentation and report format, noting that it provided a clear explanation of the agency’s decision making process, including the suggested alternatives and why they were rejected. The MAFAC encouraged NMFS to adopt this format as a template for other reports and presentations. Rod Moore motioned for the report to be adopted, Maggie Raymond seconded, and the report was ‘Adopted’ by unanimous consent.
Aquaculture Subcommittee: Don Kent, Subcommittee Chair, gave a detailed presentation and submitted a report (attached). The presentation focused on several key areas of concern to the Subcommittee, including frustrations over inaccuracies or misrepresentation of facts that were contained in the Pew Commission report regarding aspects of aquaculture science and the Subcommittee’s interest in encouraging NOAA to address those inaccuracies. A primary area of focus was the lack of staff and budgetary support within NOAA to take a lead in developing comprehensive aquaculture policy to ensure fisheries management and socio-economics of fishing communities are fully integrated into this growing sector. Dr. Hogarth acknowledged these same concerns and the level of discomfort and lack of comprehensive understanding over the issues related to aquaculture. Dr. Hogarth requested MAFAC to take on the issue of aquaculture to assist the agency as it develops a policy and process. These minutes specifically reflect the many varied viewpoints represented on MAFAC regarding aquaculture and the development of any future policies. As such, the Subcommittee report was not ‘adopted’ as a report reflecting a consensus view. Rather, the Committee ‘Accepted’ the Subcommittee report by unanimous consent and will dedicate a day at the next meeting to fully explore the status of aquaculture policy and initiatives within the Agency and NOAA. Dr. Hogarth agreed to provide members background materials and information well in advance of the next meeting to ensure all members are prepared for comprehensive discussion of the issue.
Capacity Working Group: Scott Burns, Working Group Chair, gave the report for the Working Group (attached), which consisted of two action items addressing capacity: One, to follow through on Agency actions to implement the U.S. plan of action on capacity it undertook to comply with it’s obligations under the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization capacity reduction initiative; and two, to prepare as a Committee to review pending legislation modifying restrictions of the Capital Construction Fund so as to encourage capacity reduction in fisheries with overcapacity. On the first count, the Capacity Working Group requested MAFAC to become more systematic in the way it works with the agency, both in terms of where it can best provide advice on the implementation and plan of action, and to figure out what MAFAC's role is. To facilitate this before the next meeting, the Working Group and interested Members hope to meet with Jack Dunnigan and his staff to prepare an update of what the agency's done over the past year to implement the plan of action and develop a set of recommendations for any future involvement in this issue by MAFAC. This update would be circulated to MAFAC prior to the next meeting.
With regard to Capital Construction Fund (CCF) legislation
pending in Congress, the Working Group recommended that
MAFAC work with the Agency to reform the CCF to reduce
incentives for developing or increasing over capacity and
provide relief to vessel owners and over capitalized fisheries.
Due to mechanical difficulties, the Working Group report
could not be displayed for members to review the precise
language. As such, the report was ‘Accepted’ by
unanimous consent with the anticipation of follow-up report
language being provided to members along with action-items
on this issue prior to the next meeting in August.
Recreational Fisheries Data Working Group: In response to Dr. Hogarth’s request for input into improving the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistical Survey and recreational fishing data collection, MAFAC formed a new Working Group. The following members voluntarily signed up to serve: Bob Fletcher (Chair), Tony DiLernia, Chris Dorsett, Randy Fisher (Consultant), and Rob Krammer. The Working Group will communicate via e-mail between now and the next meeting in August and work with Laurel Bryant and Bill Hogarth to establish an agenda.
Housekeeping & Next Meeting: Dr. Hogarth noted that the MAFAC Charter was due to be renewed by March 2004 and that four members’ terms would terminate as of September 2004. He informed the Committee his intent to solicit nominations from the public through the Federal Register and would welcome any nominations and suggestions from Committee Members.
The next meeting dates were decided to be August 10-12, 2004 in Alaska. The winter meeting in 2005 will occur in Dania Beach, Florida, for which Rob Krammer has offered his services to assist in the planning. The meeting for summer 2005 was determined to be in Hawaii. Dates and exact locations were not yet determined but Jim Cook offered to assist in the planning of this meeting.
In closing, Dr. Hogarth and Jack Dunnigan, on behalf of themselves and those who had to leave earlier (Dr. Rebecca Lent and Laurie Allen), acknowledged how productive this meeting had been in terms of content, the candid exchange of ideas. He expressed his enthusiasm that he believed the Committee and the Agency were learning how to best leverage the talents MAFAC to assist the Agency with improving its operations, its sensitivities to constituent concerns and creatively exploring resources available to better achieve its mission and communicate with the public.
On behalf of the entire Committee and Agency staff, Dr. Hogarth extended his thanks to Professor (Capt.) Tony DiLernia for his hospitality and efforts in organizing the Committee events to visit Fulton Fish Market and the New York Stock Exchange as well as the many cultural opportunities New York City has to offer during the holiday season. Dr. Hogarth also acknowledge that he and Kate Wynne would be speaking to Professor DiLernia’s class at Kingsbourough College the next day to discuss fisheries management and research with his students.
Adjourned Sine Die at 2:37 PM, December 11, 2004