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Update: 3/24 Herring Committee Meeting
March 26, 2009
On Tuesday the NEFMC Herring Committee met in Portland, Maine. This meeting was one of a handful that have been undertaken over the last year as the Council continues to work on Herring Amendment 4. At the meeting they spent a lot of time on the Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) and Accountability Measures (AMs) issue and then spent some time in the afternoon discussing what they think a shoreside monitoring program should look like in the amendment.
Regarding ACLs/AMs, Lori Steele (NEFMC Staff, Herring) gave a presentation on all that has done already (which can be seen in the Amendment 4 discussion document) and then the Committee went over some of the details. One of the topics they talked about for a while was regarding TAC overages and how that applies to ACLs/AMs. One of the Committee members tried to push a motion that would have basically set the ACL as OY, in other words they would have gotten rid of the so-called sub-ACLs which apply to each Area TAC and would have gone with one ACL that was set at the overall quota (that is, the combined TAC from all areas). This would have meant that area TACs could have been exceeded and they would then go back and look to see if there was any ‘biological harm’ caused by the overage and if there was harm would there have to be any kind of payback or something of that nature. The key issue there would have been what was meant by biological harm? Who would assess if there was harm done? Etc. There was a good amount of opposition on this motion by several committee members and they were able to change motion back to a regular system whereby an overage in an Area TAC would lead to some kind of payback. This motion passed eventually.
There were some other discussions that went on regarding the whole ACL/AM issue but a lot of it is pretty technical and so I wont go into it all here. The bottom line is that they spent more than half the day on this issue and they did make some progress but now Lori has to write it up in the discussion document and then they will have to bring it to the Council and so there is still a ways to go. Once the discussion document comes out with these new changes I will let everyone know.
The Committee also spent a couple hours in the afternoon discussing what the goals/objectives of a shoreside monitoring system should be. Lori made clear that this discussion was not going to affect the monitoring system outlined in Alternative 3 ( the alternative based on our monitoring proposal), and that this was more of a general discussion to try and outline what a system would look like that could then be plugged into the other monitoring alternatives (since they don’t outline what a shoreside system should look like). The big discussion was around what the committee really wants to get out of the potential shoreside system. Do they want to try and cover all trips and count every single fish that comes in? Do they want to try and cover just enough to be able to extrapolate the data fleet-wide? Or do they want to keep it similar to the system in place now? There was a lot of discussion but in the end they decided to push forward two ideas to pursue- one would be to try and cover enough to get data that will allow for extrapolation, the other to have enough coverage to verify what the captains are reporting (in other words, they want to assess the effectiveness of self-reporting). Its hard to say how it will go from here but for now they have those two objectives and so now Lori will write that section up in the document.
They also discussed the funding issue towards the end and a couple ideas came up. First, they discussed who should do the monitoring shoreside? Lori and some others said that it would be good to have the states do it since they are already doing it. They mentioned that it would be a shame to try and develop a new system when we already have one (sort of) in place, and also that it could possibly be a cheaper option. Others believed it should be a 3rd party contractor and that that system could be cheaper. Nobody had any concrete answers and this was a general discussion that clearly has a ways to go before its done. They also discussed whether the industry could fund it and how that would happen. They really did not come up with anything concrete and they basically set up this aspect of the discussion for the next meeting.
Lastly, there was a very brief discussion of the groundfish closed area issue at the end, mostly to tell everyone that Pat Kurkul wants to discuss this issue with the Council at the next Council meeting. It sounds like she has done most of the analysis but wants to confer with the Council before making a final decision. Should be interesting to see how that one goes.
Again, much of this will be included in the Amendment 4 Draft Discussion Document and we will post it on here once it is posted online.