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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is the agenda itself:

Recreational Advisory Panel


May 20, 2008

Holiday Inn, Peabody MA

9:00 .am. Introductions/Approval of Agenda

9:15 a.m. Overview of Amendment 16 and GARM III
Council Staff

10:00 a.m. Development of management measure recommendations
Eric Thunberg

Noon Lunch

1:15 p.m. Recreational accountability measures

3:30 p.m. Other business

4:00 p.m. Adjourn

And Here is the memo that accompanied it:


DATE: May 16, 2008
TO: Recreational Advisory Panel
FROM: Barry Gibson
SUBJECT: RAP Meeting, May 20, 2008

1. Please review the attached materials for next week?s meeting. The package includes:

? Agenda
? Updated recreational and commercial catch data through 2006 for six stocks
? Draft A16 recreational/commercial allocation measure
? Last RAP meeting summary

2. After Council staff provides an update on Amendment 16 development and recent Committee developments, we will develop recommendations for management measures. It is important to note that at this stage we don?t know what the mortality objectives of the amendment will be. As a result, our recommendations will be based on achieving the reductions called for by Amendment 13. These may or may not turn out to be the actual objectives, but using them as a guide will help us provide advice on what tradeoffs we prefer. For example, if we can increase recreational catch of GOM cod, do we prefer reducing the minimum size or extending the season? What if we have to reduce recreational catch of GOM haddock? These are the types of issues we will discuss.

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New England Fishery Management Council
Recreational Advisory Panel
Meeting Summary
May 20, 2008
The Recreational Advisory Panel (RAP) met in Peabody, MA to provide recommendations for Amendment 16 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FM)). Members present were Mr. Barry Gibson (Chair), Mr. Bud Brown (Vice-Chair), Mr. Ed Nowak, Mr. Tom DePersia, Mr. Mike Sosik, Mr. Chuck Casella, Mr. George Costello, Mr. Jonathan Sterritt, and Mr. Don Swanson. Groundfish Oversight Committee members Mr. Rip Cunningham and Mr. Frank Blount were also present. The meeting was staffed by Tom Nies (NEFMC) and Eric Thunberg (NEFSC). The RAP developed recommendations for recreational management measures and the allocation of groundfish to the commercial and recreational components of the fishery.

Council staff gave an overview of the Amendment 16 timeline, development of measures, and Annual Catch Limit/Accountability measure requirements. Included in this presentation was a summary of the Groundfish Committee recommendations for determining the allocation of six stocks to the commercial and recreational components of the fishery, as well as preliminary estimates of the percentage share for recreational fishermen based on these periods. Council staff also pointed out that because the Mr. Thunberg gave an overview of recent recreational participation and catches. Some important points from this presentation were:

Recreational GOM cod catches declined in CY 2007, about 56% from recent years. Private boat mode catches increased between CY 2006 and CY 2007, but party/charter did not.

Measures of recreational effort (anglers/passenger trips) declined 48% compared to the CY 2004/2005 average.
Sampling has declined for private trips, so that the size distribution of catches cannot be determined. Sampling has increased on party/charter trips. Available size information suggests the catch is shifting to larger fish.

Because of the data, it is difficult to fine-tune recreational measures to precise changes in fishing mortality. Seasonal changes in measures might help address this problem.

Over the course of the meeting RAP members repeatedly questioned why mortality reductions identified in Amendment 13 were being used to design management measures when recent declines in recreational catch of GOM cod appeared to exceed the reductions targeted in Framework 42. Some RAP members argued that it was of little use to develop measure without knowing the necessary changes in mortality. Staff explained that in order to meet the timelines required, a draft document and EIS needed to be taken to public hearing this summer, before assessment results were known ? as a result, assumptions needed to be made on the changes in mortality that would be necessary in order to develop measures. These assumptions would be corrected as necessary after the stock assessments were completed. Ultimately the RAP completed the tasks assigned, but expressed serious reservations about the process being used for development of the amendment.

RAP discussions tended to address two issues: specific measures for GOM haddock and GOM cod, and the allocation shares for the recreational and commercial components of the fishery. This report summarizes the discussions for these two topics, rather than in the order discussed at the RAP meeting.

Recreational/Commercial Allocation
The RAP reviewed the landings history-based allocations suggested by the Groundfish Committee and the time periods proposed. RAP members expressed concern over the time periods recommended by the Committee. They noted that there have been considerable changes in the fishery in recent years that are not reflected in the allocations when longer time periods are used, as well as other reasons for considering different time periods. Some RAP members argued that the recreational fishery should not be limited to a small percentage based on catches during periods when stocks were depressed; one member argued that the recreational fishery should not be limited to an allocation. Recognizing that the Committee?s proposed allocation has not been approved by the Council, the RAP decided to review the proposed allocations and suggest alternatives to those presented by the Committee. Public comment on this issue included:

Mr. Frank Blount supported commenting on the allocations. He noted that catch or landings history did not need to be the only way to determine allocations. Some Councils have considered other factors, such as economic factors, when determining allocations. He also expressed concern that once a value was established, it would not be changed in the future even if the measure called for a periodic review. Mr .Blount noted that this issue could influence the reductions needed in this amendment. For example, even though the needed mortality reduction might be small, if the recreational component needed to reduce its share at the same time, the combined reduction could be large.

After discussion, the Committee agreed to the following consensus statement:
Consensus: The RAP recommends the commercial/rec allocation for GOM haddock be based on the time period of 2001-2006 (vice 96-06).

The RAP identified the following reasons for suggesting this change:
The time period better reflects the proportions currently caught by the two components of the fishery.
Recreational catches of haddock were constrained by a bag limit even after commercial trip limits were raised (or removed). After bag limits were relaxed, the recreational catch increased.

Recreational measures actually raised the haddock minimum size at a time when commercial measures were being relaxed.
Recreational effort has shifted to haddock in the Gulf of Maine due to the increased minimum size for cod.
If recreational discards were included in the catch calculations, the recreational share would increase.
Commercial buyouts reduced effort for the commercial fishery. Some of the benefits of those buyouts should accrue to the public at large, via the recreational fishery.

Motion: The RAP recommends the commercial/rec allocation for GOM cod be based on the time period 2001-2006. (Mr. Casella/Mr. DePersia)

Many of the reasons suggested for GOM haddock apply to this recommendation as well: it better reflects current activity and increases in minimum size have affected recreational catches. RAP members noted that there were other years that could be selected that would give higher percentages to the recreational fishery. In addition, it appears the MRFSS percentage of error is

better in more recent years ? the estimates are more accurate. The motion carried on a show of hands (8-0).
Motion: That the RAP recommends the commercial/recreational allocation of GOM winter flounder should be split 50/50. (Mr. Brown/Mr. Nowak)

The maker of the motion noted that recreational winter flounder catches declined as the stock declined, and in earlier years was nearly an even split. It seems inappropriate to constrain the recreational fishery to a smaller percentage based on a time period when the stock was depressed. The motion carried on a show of hands (8-0).

Motion: The RAP recommends that for the commercial/recreational allocation of pollock, the years used should be 2001-2006. (Mr. Brown/DePersia)

In addition to the reasons mentioned earlier, the RAP suggests this period for consistency with GOM cod and haddock. The motion carried on a show of hands (7-0-1).

Recreational Measures
GOM haddock
The RAP noted that the mortality reduction for GOM haddock called for by Amendment 13 was small. While they recognized that this could change, members felt that a small change in measures would be sufficient to achieve the targeted 4 percent reduction. They expressed a desire to have an idea what sort of reduction would result from various changes; Mr. Thunberg said that could be prepared. The Chair suggested that the RAP should consider the possibility that for some stocks it might be better to make different suggestions for the private and party/charter components, since they have different concerns.

The RAP discussed several options for GOM haddock. It was noted that a closed season for haddock would leave nothing to fish for if it overlapped the closer for cod. While some members supported an increased minimum size, others supported a bag limit. The Chair noted that these differences appeared to be aligned with the private boat or party/charter components, and again suggested that different measures could be adopted for the different components. Several members poke in opposition to this approach. Public comment included:

Mr. Kevin Twombly opposed a closed season and a ten-fish haddock bag limit. He pointed out that twenty haddock fillets would hardly fill a small bag.

Mr. Mike Flaherty opposed a closed season but felt it should not be taken off the table. He said a reasonable trip limit might be acceptable.

Mr. Blount commented that as distasteful as they may be, closed seasons work. He pointed to the fluke experience, where reduced bag limits and increased sizes have proven to be a problem.

Motion: If necessary to reduce recreational mortality on GOM haddock, to increase minimum size by ½ inch. (Mr. DePersia/Mr. Sosik)

The motion carried on a show of hands (5-1-2). Staff cautioned that the data might not allow for estimating the impacts of size changes of less than an inch.

The RAP next considered prioritizing preferences in case mortality can increase on GOM haddock. They considered supporting a reduced minimum size, with several members speaking in opposition to this suggestion.

Motion: If recreational restrictions on GOM haddock can be relaxed, reduce minimum size to 18 inches (Mr. Casella/Mr. DePersia)

The motion carried on a show of hands (5-4).
Motion: The RAP opposes seasonal adjustments to reduce GOM haddock mortality (if reductions are needed). (Mr. Sterritt/Mr. Brown)

Mr. Sterritt said it would be helpful to make a clear statement of RPA preferences against seasonal closures. The motion carried on a show if hands (5-3).

The RAP discussed measures for GOM cod. Once again there were differences of opinion on the best way to reduce mortality: size increases, bag limits, or seasons. It was noted that inshore fishermen do not seem to be catching the larger fish that are offshore. There was also a suggestion of a seasonal bag limit adjustment.

Motion: The RAP recommends if a reduction in recreational fishing mortality is needed for GOM cod, begin with April/May/June bag limit of 10 fish per person and then adjust for remainder of the fishing year. (Mr. Casella/Mr. Brown)

Members expressed a number of concerns over this motion. For party/charter operators, a lower bag limit in October and November would severely impact late-season charters. Party/charter operators need to market the dream of catching a lot of fish, and bag limits work against that approach. Other members expressed a concern that it was too open-ended ? the reduced bag limit did not have a lower bound. The motion failed on a show of hands (1-6-1).

Motion: At present time we stay at status quo regulations for GOM cod. (Mr. Swanson/)
The maker of this motion argued that there was no evidence any reduction at all was needed. The motion failed for a lack of a second.

Motion: Change the bag limit for GOM cod by one fish (10 to 9 fish). (Swanson/no second)
This motion was opposed by party/charter operators who believe reducing the ten fish bag limit turns away customers. Additional discussion by the RAP highlighted concerns over these possible changes. Party/charter fishermen did not support an extended closed season or a bag limit reduction; other members were not in favor of increased minimum sizes. Mr. Cunningham 4

suggested to the RAP that in spite of differences, it would be best to provide a suggestion or the Committee would act without the RAP?s input.

Motion: If necessary to reduce GOM cod recreational fishing mortality, increase the minimum size by one-half inch. (Mr. DePersia/Mr. Costello)

A friendly amendment was accepted:
Motion: If necessary to reduce GOM cod recreational fishing mortality, use a half inch size increase on the party/charter component and on the private boat and shore/angler extend the closed season, split equally on either end of the closed season.

Mr. Sterritt opposed the motion as modified, speaking against any closed season. The motion failed on a show of hands (3-4).

Motion: If necessary to reduce GOM cod recreational fishing mortality, increase the minimum size by one-half inch. (Mr. DePersia/Mr. Brown)

The motion carried on a show of hands (5-3).
Motion: The RAP opposes seasonal adjustments to reduce GOM cod mortality (if reductions are needed). (Mr. Sterritt/Mr. Swanson)

The motion carried on a show of hands (6-1-1).
The RAP next considered their preferences if mortality can be increased on GOM cod.
Motion: If recreational harvest of GOM cod can increase, consider changing regulations in order as follows:
Extend season (in order, March, November)
Reduce minimum fish size
Extend season (December)
Increase bag limit
(Mr. DePersia/Mr. Sterritt)
The motion carried on a show of hands (8-0).
Members of the RAP wish to emphasize the professional nature of the discussions and the ability of different recreational interests (private boat, party/charter) to reach agreement on management issues. The RAP members asked the Chair to request an additional RAP meeting after the GARM assessments before the October Council meeting so the RAP can develop recommendations for management measures once the assessments are completed.

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
oldmil007 wrote:
Thanks Bob,

Now, if someone more knowledgeble about regulations than I can put this into perspective of it's potential consequences and timetable?

- Jay

It's really all up in the air right now. Basically the RAP was recommending actions on a "what if" basis. Until the GARM report comes out and amendment 16 targets are set, it really has no effect. Plus the council can ignore the RAP recommendations if they choose to, although that rarely happens.
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