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Meeting Roundup: September 2011

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting The ASMFC’s American Lobster Management Board met on August 1 and approved Draft Addendum XVII to the lobster management plan. The addendum is now available for public comment and review. The Draft Addendum presents management options to reduce fishing on the Southern New England stock by 10% starting in July, 2013. The proposed 10% reduction would come from changes in the minimum size limit, maximum size limit, and/or closed seasons. Separate proposals would be developed for Lobster Conservation Management Areas 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. This 10% reduction is the first step in responding to the Technical Committee’s advice on rebuilding the depleted Southern New England lobster stock. The affected states will conduct hearings and copies of the Draft Addendum are available at www.asmfc.org or by contacting the Commission at 703.842.0740. Public comment will be accepted until October 14. Comments should be forwarded to Toni Kerns, Senior FMP Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St, Suite A-N, Arlington, VA 22201 or at tkerns@asmfc.org. Commissioners from Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts met on August 1 to discuss herring effort control measures for the remainder of the season in Area 1A. To ensure that the June to September allocation is fully harvested, commissioners agreed to allow 7 landing days from August 8 – September 30. Landings will be monitored closely and Commissioners will quickly convene a ‘days out’ meeting to reduce landing days if necessary. The ASMFC’s Atlantic Menhaden Management Board met on August 2, and approved Draft Addendum V to Amendment 1 of the menhaden management plan. The Draft Addendum proposes establishing a new interim fishing mortality threshold and target for menhaden. A scoping process will take place to get public comment on the management tools that could be used to implement the new fishing mortality threshold and target levels. The Draft Addendum presents two options which include a status quo fishing mortality threshold which is based on a maximum spawning potential (MSP) of 8% and 15%. The four options for the interim fishing mortality target are based on status quo and an MSP of 20, 30 or 40%. The current MSP level is 8%. States will be conducting hearings on the Draft Addendum which will be available for public comment in September. The ASMFC’s Northern Shrimp Section approved Draft Amendment 2 to the Northern shrimp management plan for public comment and review at its August meeting. The Draft Amendment offers a selection of management options to provide greater flexibility in managing the fishery and maximizing its overall benefits. These include clarification of fishing mortality reference points, timely and comprehensive reporting system, trip limits, trap limits, days out, area management, seasonal quotas, and harvest set asides. Existing Amendment 1 only provides two options for managing the fishery – season length and gear limitations. Early season closures occurred in the 2010 and 2011 fishing seasons because landing rates were far greater than anticipated. Furthermore, untimely reporting resulted in short notice of the season closures and an overharvest of the target total allowable catch by 14% in 2010 and 48 % in 2011. Draft Amendment 2 management measures are intended to address these issues. Upon completion of Amendment 2, the Section will consider a limited entry program through the adaptive management addendum process. Copies of the Draft Amendment are available at www.asmfc.org or by contacting the Commission at 703.842.0740. Public comment will be accepted until October 3 and should be forwarded to Michael Waine, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; 703.842.0741 (FAX) or at mwaine@asmfc.org.


DMR Advisory Council The DMR Lobster Advisory Committee met on August 17 and approved a clarification to the Lobster Trap Tag System owner-operator provision. These regulations will provide consistency with a new section of law (12 MRS §6431-G) that is meant to both clarify and strengthen the “owner-operator law” to address a loophole that has been identified by Marine Patrol. The loophole allowed certain arrangements of family members with two boats to circumvent the owner-operator law. The proposed regulations were unanimously approved by all members of the Lobster Advisory Council at the meetings held November, 2010 and April, 2011. In the decade since the law’s inception the department and the lobster industry have become aware of successful attempts to subvert the intent of this law. In essence, individuals found a legal means to use the law to fish two lobster vessels and effectively fish double the zone’s trap limit. One variation has been to “set up” a second person with a vessel and traps, make him or her the vessel owner using the corporation laws of the State, and then actually fish twice the zone’s trap limit by operating both vessels. According to the owner-operator law, one can only “operate” a lobster vessel that is listed on one’s lobster license. Under existing law no lobster license holder is issued more tags than a zone’s trap limit allows even if they list multiple vessels on their lobster license. These changes have been made in fairness to those fishermen who abide by the trap limits that exist statewide. The exemptions for illness and mechanical breakdown that exist elsewhere in the “owner-operator” statute remain in place. A third exemption was added in the law to provide for the sponsor of an apprentice to provide “practical lobster fishing training” to his or her apprentice in keeping with the intent of the apprentice program.

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