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Area 1

Lobster Conservation Management Team Minutes

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Lobster Conservation Management Team 1 Minutes
Urban Forestry Center – Portsmouth, New Hampshire
March 25, 2008 – 10:00 a.m.

A meeting of the Area 1 Lobster Conservation Management Team (Area1 LCMT) was held on this date at the Urban Forestry Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Members of the Area 1 LCMT attending this meeting included: Chair Jon Carter, Norbert Lemieux , Bruce Fernald, David Johnson, Steven Taylor, Dana Rice, Jason Hooper, Damon Frampton , Peter Flannigan, Bob Nudd , Fred Dauphinee, Jim Bartlett, Douglas Sibbald, John Carver, John Barrett, Jr. , Bob Martin, Gary Ostrom, Kurt Oehme, Bernie Feeney, William Lister and Ron Hemeon

Also present: G. Ritchie White, Doug Grant, Bob Baines, Stephen Robbins, III, John Stanley, Bill Anderson, Bob Ross, William Adler, Patience Whitten, Mike Flanigan, Kenneth Dennison, Sheila Dassatt, Toni Kerns, Dan McKiernan, Terry Stockwell, Sarah Cotnoir, Carl Wilson, Lynda Doughty and Donna Hall

The meeting convened at 10:05 AM.

Welcome

Chairman Jon Carter welcomed everyone to the LCMT Area 1 meeting and asked for an introduction around the room. Team discussion began and Norbert Lemieux asked if would be possible to have a meeting location closer to the Portland/Brunswick area. The consensus around the room was that suggestion was acceptable to other members.

The question was asked if the new whale rules would be in effect in October 2008. Terry Stockwell said that there are no changes to the status on the amended Large Whale plan. Norbert Lemieux asked if we had heard anything since the hearing that Senator Snowe held, and Terry said that we had not heard anything to date.

Draft Addendum XII

Toni Kerns from Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission outlined Draft Addendum XII for the team. Toni said that the Commission would be setting up public hearings on the Addendum right now and the comment period would close on April 11th. The objectives of Draft Addendum XII are to identify issues associated with history based fishing rights programs and trap transfer programs as well as to allow for some flexibility for the fishery while achieving the conservation goals of the ITT program.

Toni explained the key definitions to the Draft Addendum XII as follows:

o Individual Transferable Trap Program of ITT

1. Allows permit holders to transfer traps
2. Cannot lease traps

o Permit Holder

1. Has a commercial fishing permit or license from a federal or state authority
2. State licenses individuals
3. NOAA Fisheries permits a vessel

o Single Fishing History

1. A person with two or more permits but only fished all permits from one vessel at a time
o Dual Permit Holder

1. Person with two fishing permits
2. One from the state ( 0-3 miles)
3. One from NMFS ( 3-200 miles)
4. Fishes under one fishing operation

o Transfer Trap Tax

1. Area –specific percentage of each transferred ITT allocation required o be surrendered for conservation purposes

Toni outlined the difficult issues with the transferability programs in Area 2, 3 and Outer Cape Cod (OCC) and the lack of sufficient progress over the past 2 years. Trap reductions forced permit holders to seek relief through ITT programs and recent effort control plans affecting state water especially for federal permit holders in RI & MA are not yet recognized by NMFS. The challenges in the current ITT lobster management include:

o Duplicate and redundant allocations and the potential to qualify for more than one actually ever fished at a given time.
o The allocation standards inconsistent – range from liberal to conservative.
o Permitting/reporting standards not compatible – State permits person vs. Federal permits the vessel.

Toni outlined the background, foundation principals and management measures of Addendum XII as follows:

2.1 Qualification and Allocation
o History based effort control plans

All LCMAs but Area 1
Sought to control fishing mortality
Each with permit specific trap limits
Potential to qualify for more than actually ever fished at a given time

o Administered by NMFS, states or both

o States & NMFS on different schedules

Area 2 & OCC: first effort control plans with substantial state waters fishery and state only permit holders.
State rulemaking completed in allocating to state permit holders.
Dual permit holder allocations not recognized because NMFS has not completed rulemaking.
Currently, NMFS allocate up to 800 traps, while state allocation ranges from 0-800.

2.2 Most Restrictive Rule
o Amendment 3 (NOAA adopted ’99)

Must comply with the most restrictive management measures
Including the smallest number of traps allocated to them for each of the LCMA fished
Intended to allow multi-area fishermen to continue to fish in historical areas while maintaining conservation

o Addendum IV (ASMFC ’03)

Including the smallest number of traps allocated to them for each of the LCMA fished.
Multiple designated LCMAs on permits are bound by the most restrictive management measures of those LCMAs trap caps.
Allowed to fish the number of traps they are allocated in that most restrictive LCMA.

o ME to CT operate under MOU with NMFS for trap tag distribution
o Agree to follow NOAA definition of MRR (Amendment 3)
o Change in regulation could increase traps depending on LCMA elected
Problematic in SNE where stock is overfished and deleted

2.3 Transferability
o LCMAs effort control plans include transferability provisions
OCC, LCMA 3 and 2
o Plans are similar but no uniform or integrated
o None considered impacts to other LCMA fishing privileges
o No Administration mechanism
3.0 Founding Principles
o Can’t separate history from a permit
o Trap allocations reflect history
o Multi-LCMA trap partial transfers will have remaining LCMA trap allocations debited by the same amount transferred
4.1.1 Classify permit holder within LCMA
o State, Federal only or Dual (state and federal)
4.1.2 Fishing history could not be separated from permit
4.1.3 Dual permit splits
o History remains with federal permit
o For qualification and allocation
4.1.4 Trap migration
o State only traps qualification
o Federal only traps qualification
o Retain solely that historic access
4.2 Most Restrictive
o Trap cap or operate under 2 definitions under ASMFC and NOAA
o Because of MOU must operate under NOAA definition
o Option A: Status quo
ASMFC under Addendum IV
Bound by the most restrictive management measures of those LCMAs trap caps
o Option B:
Including the smallest number of traps allocated to them for each LCMA fished
Multiple designated LCMAs on permits bound by most restrictive rule

Toni stated that a key issue with the implementation of an ITT Administration is an operative tracking program.

4.3.1 Inter-jurisdictional database
o Centrally developed and maintained
o Track all trap transfers and allocations

Toni mentioned that this tracking system would cost a significant amount of money and require a long-term maintenance fund but added that a funding source has not yet been identified.

4.3.2 Conservation Tax
o Partial transfers
At least 10% (LCMA-specific conservation tax)
o Complete fishing business transfers
Until database operational transfers remain status quo

Toni said that a conservation tax will not happen until this database is in place and that a key issue is the need for consistency between states and federal permits. There would be measures in place for partial business transfers. While the database is under development there would be transfers between state-only permit holders. One measure for transfers would be that traps with state and federal “access” only can not migrate between jurisdictions and there would be measures for partial transfers as well.

Toni explained the effects of transfers on LCMAs without allocation, highlighted that LCMA 1 is the only area without a history-based allocation and that all federal permit holders can annually elect LCMA 1. She explained the following options:

o Option A
Status quo
o Option B
When a transfer is made debit the fixed trap cap of LCMA 1 by the number of traps transferred.
Treat the trap cap like an allocation
o Option C
Permit holder no longer eligible to fish in LCMA1
Once transfer is complete

Bernie asked whether this meant anyone in Area 1 would also have an Area 2 permit. Dan McKiernan said not in MA. An audience member expressed that we’ve done a lot of work to keep this fishery from having people moving in and that we need to stop people from coming into Area 1 that do not have a history in Area 1 and asked what are we going to do about the effort coming in to Area 1?

Dan McKiernan said he while did not expect many folks from south of the Cape to go fishing in Area 1, they may split their permit to other areas. Bill Adler asked how Addendum XII effects Area 1 permit holders.

Toni said if Area 1 does elect to adopt a limited entry or transfer program then Addendum XII will be the template. Bill Anderson asked how does that effect you from fishing Area 1 and said he had questions about the trap tax and reducing traps - do you set a new goal every time? Dan said any future transfers could be a percentage going out every year. Bernie said a number of years ago I could pick Area 1, 2, OCC – choose an area, I can’t go back in to these now. Dan said Area 3 was made an allocation business choice. Bernie said in MA we have to report where we fish.

Toni said with Amendment V there are limited entry programs and that ASMFC can’t just say no more transfers. Dan said that Maine doesn’t have the same record keeping requirements as MA and that NH is different as well - we need to have more consistent standards.

Jon Carter asked can’t we make this simpler – State’s already have rules that don’t allow new entrants into the fishery. An audience member said there is a dealer’s permit in NH and anyone can get one. Bob Ross said that NMFS was involved in Amendment V with different jurisdictions, and that they needed the Area 1 LCMT to come up with specific criteria to limit entry into Area 1. Addendum XII doesn’t go there; however it has impacts on Area 1 because you don’t have limited access.

John Carver asked if closing NH could take care of this problem. Jon Carter said my understanding wasn’t limiting entry but limiting effort, no one from NY or CT will come up to Mt Desert and fish.

Bob Nudd said there are two issues that this Addendum identifies and the first is transferability of traps in Area 1. If we want to close Area 1 we have to go a step further and talk about limited entry. Bob Baines said that a simple version of limited entry in Area 1 could be that if you checked off Area 1 you can’t go elsewhere – we need to get all states on the same page but we need to start a limited entry program. Dan said the problem is bigger than that, with other fishermen we need to look at this more broadly – a lot of money is on the streets for groundfish relief in MA.

Dana Rice said what everyone wants to do will be difficult to do; I don’t think you’ll ever get NMFS to go along with it. Bill Listner asked if we can start this today and get the ball rolling. Richie White asked whether federal permits are being bought now. Jon said that while more permits were moving north, there were no additional traps - just shifting of traps from inshore to near-offshore waters by the same boat. Toni said some people who have federal permits move their traps around. Sarah Cotnoir asked if this would result in how many permits would be sold. Dan said states would still reserve their rights to their own rules for each state.

Bob Nudd stated that the number of traps is not increasing in NH but that a number of new Area 1 federal permits from Area 2, 3, 4 have come his way. As far as forming a limited entry program today or in the next year is unrealistic, if this group wants to limit people coming in – it’s going to take along time.

Bruce Fernald asked if you have a state and a federal license can you get more traps in Area 1. Col. Joe Fessenden said no because of the more restrictive rule. Most of Maine’s Area 3 guys gave up their permits because of more restrictive zero tolerance and v-notch rules. Jon Carter said one thing it doesn’t stop is the shift of effort. Joe said it would if the permit didn’t specify Area 1, with a limited entry program you would abide by your most restrictive rule.

Gary Ostrom said you need to show a history of Area 1 and because we are three states we have to work out the effort issues in each state: NH landing permit – ME apprentices. Jon said we need to first establish if we want to go down the road of limited entry and if so how do we do it - we are three states and we all have different needs.

Dan McKiernan suggested we form a sub-committee to lay out the things about each state and said he would be happy to help put together a group to lay out this discussion. Jon said anytime you estimate things you have a control date, now when people hear this they will put down Area 1.
B. Ross said he didn’t think that would happen as there has only been an additional 65 permits come in the past 4 years, there are ways to work through the process and I support Dan’s idea of a sub-committee.

John Stanley asked if what he was hearing here today that we are looking at 100% reporting, there are many people that have federal permits that fish in state waters. Bernie said the catch report shows what % of the catch was in federal waters.

MOTION: (Dana Rice and Fred Dauphinee) Develop a sub-committee to achieve limited entry in Area. (All in favor).

Sub-Committee members:

Terry Stockwell, Bob Ross, Dan McKiernan, Damon Frampton, Bob Martin, John Carver, Jason Hooper and Jon Carter.

Terry Stockwell said we’d like to have your comments on Addendum VII; the public hearings will be coming right up. Bob Baines said the Advisory board will be meeting on Thursday. Team discussion began with questions in regards to Area 3 transfers their permit to Area 1 what to do with his permit. Bill Adler said we should give our recommendations to the sub-committee to discuss. Jason Hooper said we want to be sure we’re not missing something.

Jon Carter said an audience member wants to talk about the v-notch definition. Dan said we can talk about the standard in MA, we have 1/8 inch now and will be the same in Area 3 in July. MA is interested in going to rule-making, and guys who fish want a standard uniform 1/8 inch gauge. Jon said zero tolerance is the easiest to enforce, uniform zero tolerance would be the best, we have a stock assessment coming this year and I will have a hard time until I know what comes out of that.

Carl Wilson said Dan’s memo is accurate on the history of the process and how it relates to zero tolerance. There could be recommendations coming out of the stock assessment in regards to egg bearers and v-notch as well.

Bernie said there are several issues in MA that you don’t in ME. We have some violations that are too close, what this will cost us in the future, strictly limited entry for us in MA? I would vote for MA only to have 1/8th inch. Jon Carter said we are Area 1 not ME, NH, MA – we are all one.

Dana Rice said these things are all true – v-notch is the best conservation there is, you need to train your law enforcement. Gary Ostrom said he has fished for 31 years and in the last 5 years he has not been written up, the court system in our state has told law enforcement not to bring these types of cases in to court anymore, it would be nice to have the same kinds of enforcement in cooperation in our state that you guys in Maine have. Jon Carter said if Maine had 1/8th of an inch we’d land another 20-30 million pounds.

Bernie said he thought harvester level reporting of trap landings should be 100% across the board in order to get certification of our lobsters, the green people are looking and they want information on all landings. Norbert said Maine still has a lot of conservation measures and the most accurate data they are getting is from the dealers. Bernie said but you don’t have to tell your dealer how many traps you fished. Dana Rice said the green people are coming this way but he didn’t think it was a good idea, it may work against you. Jason Hooper said our state can’t handle all the data. Dan said with Addendum IX Maine missed out, I think your going to need that data. Terry said the State of Maine has struggled to get the 10% up and going now - we’re working on it and seek to expand in the future.

Jon Carter said he would like to have at least one sub-committee meeting before we have another Area 1 LCMT meeting at the end of June.

Meeting adjourned at 12:35 PM.