Minister LeBlanc Accepts Key Recommendation of Advisory Panel on LIFO
OTTAWA, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – July 6, 2016) – Today, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, issued the following statement:
“After a thorough review of the Ministerial Advisory Panel Report on the Northern Shrimp fishery’s Last in, First Out (LIFO) policy, I wish to confirm acceptance of its fundamental recommendation. The panel determined that after being in place for about 20 years, “LIFO is not a sustainable instrument of public policy,” and should be replaced by a system of proportional sharing for the future.
Proportional Sharing is consistent with the approach used in most other Canadian fisheries with respect to stock and allocation management. Applying this principled approach of Proportional Sharing means that the inshore and offshore fleets as well as Indigenous Peoples will continue to share in the economic benefits of this precious resource. Sharing arrangements must also respect land claims agreements and the interests of Indigenous groups as well as the interests of adjacent coastal communities.
I have asked departmental officials to provide advice in the specific application of this way forward in keeping with our precautionary approach as well as the sustainability and long term conservation of the fishery given the declines in the stock. This input will be received in the coming weeks and it will include consideration of community impacts and Indigenous commitments and obligations.
At the same time, I look forward to receiving the Northern Shrimp Advisory Committee recommendations for the fishery following its meeting on July 7.
In the meantime, I am announcing an interim quota for the Shrimp Fishing Area (SFA) 6, which will enable fishing to start. The offshore harvesters will be allocated 4,500 tonnes; inshore harvesters will be allocated 4,500 tonnes, and there is an allocation of 500 tonnes for an existing special allocation holder.
In closing, I want to once again express my gratitude to the Panel – Chair Paul Sprout and members Barbara Crann, Wayne Follett and Trevor Taylor – for their hard work and dedication in delivering on their mandate to conduct an independent, open and fair review of the LIFO Policy. More than a thousand harvesters, Indigenous Peoples and industry representatives participated in the Panel’s review, which brought home to me the vital importance of the northern shrimp fishery to all concerned. All of these diverse views were considered and I thank everyone who contributed their valuable insights.”
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For Immediate Release Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Panel sides with inshore fishery, recommends elimination of LIFO policy
JOHN’S, NL – The Ministerial Advisory Panel conducting an external review of the Last-In, First-Out policy (LIFO) released its recommendations yesterday. The Panel recommended abolishing LIFO and implementing permanent proportional sharing.
“The panel recommendation to abolish LIFO and implement permanent proportional sharing is a much fairer decision based on good fisheries management principles,” said Keith Sullivan, President of the Fish, Food & Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor). “The panel accepted the position of harvesters, plant workers, municipal leaders and small business owners who have been speaking out against LIFO for years.”
The Panel determined that the LIFO policy was not sustainable. In its place, the proposed sharing regime would establish percentage shares from 2016 onward in each of the shrimp fishing areas. Percentage shares for each quota holder in SFA 6 will be calculated based on the total of cumulated annual allocations between 1997 and 2009, before LIFO was implemented.
The Panel also recommended that special allocation holders in SFA 6 be given the option of utilizing the inshore fleet to harvest their allocations. Additionally, it was recommended that the Government of Canada establish a formal ongoing engagement process with all sectors of the industry to ensure that the repatriation of the processing of industrial shrimp becomes a reality that will benefit inshore processing facilities.
“While the decision doesn’t remove the offshore fleet from area 6, it does strengthen adjacency in area 6 and recommends long overdue changes to how special allocations can be harvested,” continued Sullivan. “Most importantly, the recommendation will allow for a viable inshore northern shrimp fishery this year.”
A final decision on the review is expected to be made by Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, later this week.
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At White House, Pacific Island Delegation Warns that the President’s Proposed Marine Monument Expansion Will Fail American Fisherme. At an hour-long West Wing meeting yesterday, fisheries managers and commercial fishing industry representatives from the U.S. Pacific Islands spoke with Counselor to the President, John Podesta, and senior officials from the White House Council on Environmental Quality to express concerns regarding the President’s proposed expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, which they contend will harm U.S. fishermen in the region without benefiting the surrounding environment.
|HONOLULU (10 September 2014) A delegation from the U.S. Pacific islands, including fisheries managers and commercial fishing industry representatives, met yesterday with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), including Counselor to the President JohnPodesta. The group conveyed its concerns for an Executive proposal that would bar fishermen from nearly 700,000 miles of vitally historic fishing grounds.The delegation from the Pacific islands included leaders from Hawai‘i, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC). They expressed their opposition to President Obama’s proposal to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM). Arnold Palacios, CNMI Secretary of the Department of Lands and Natural ResourcesandWPRFMC chair, described the meeting as “a frank discussion,” at which the delegation from the Western Pacific shared “concerns that the current proposal is destined to fail our fishermen and environment.” According totheWPRFMC and others at the meeting, the proposed Monument expansion would unfairly penalize the U.S. Pacific islands and American fishermen and fail at its conservation objectives.The meeting was an important opportunity for Executive officials to hear firsthand about these issues. In addition to Mr.Podesta, Acting Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Michael Boots, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Daniel Ashe, and Senior Advisor to the Undersecretary of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Dr. Christine Blackburn were in attendance, among other senior officials.According to theWPRFMC, the Administration overlooked key local stakeholders and regional fishery managers in the original planning of the proposal, which in turn produced a plan that neglects the needs and concerns of the region and its vitally important fishing industry.Sean Martin, of the Hawai‘iLongline Association, remarked that “this attempt at crafting an environmental legacy for our nation will ultimately prove to accomplish the opposite by disenfranchising our own fishermen and outsourcing domestic seafood demand to nations whose standards for environmental protections pale in comparison to our own.”Opposition to the proposed Monument expansion centers around arguments that it disregards already effective marine protections,unfairlyharmshard working American fishermen, and outsources domestic seafood demand to nations with poor records of environmental stewardship.KittySimonds,ExecutiveDirectoroftheWPRFMC, explained, “Our current management systems are a global guide and a living legacy for responsible resource management. Our regulations are the strictest in the world.”
Added to that, say representatives from the WPRFMC, is the unfortunate reality that the size of an expanded Monument would be too large to enforce, likely leading to exploitation of the Monument by foreign competitors for illegal fishing. Currently, 91 percent of seafood consumed in the United States is imported, with up to one-third potentially sourced from illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.
The delegates from the U.S. Pacific islands also say that the marine species for which protections are sought are highly migratory and will not gain protections from an expanded PRIMNM. For our fishermen, they argue, the expansion will mean substantial cost increases, both in terms of fuel to travel further out to sea and for entry to other nations’ fishing grounds, for which our fishermen are required to pay large fees. They noted that fishing access to the high seas is also restricted by international fishery management organizations, to which the United States is a party. Representatives from the WPRFMC further explained that U.S. Pacific island fishermen are also being squeezed out of U.S. waters by other existing marine national monuments, national marine sanctuaries, large fishing vessel exclusion zones and no-access military areas.
Claire Poumele, Director of the American Samoa Port Authority and a WPRFMC member, said the Monument expansion would have catastrophic consequences to the territory’s tuna canning operations, which employs one-third of the population.
But at the meeting, government officials reaffirmed their support for the Monument’s expansion, however, they did not explain their rationale or expound upon any supporting facts. Mr. Podesta expressed his opinion that large marine protected areas are valuable to the nation’s conservation objectives.
The WPRFMC is a regional fishery management council established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 1976. The Council has successfully implemented innovations in fisheries management and conservation for 35 years, including ecosystem-based fishery management plans and vessel monitoring systems. WPRFMC emphasizes public participation and the involvement of local communities in science-based fisheries management.
For Immediate Release September 5, 2014
(St. John’s) FFAW-Unifor President Earle McCurdy said there needs to be more respect shown to inshore fish harvesters by industrial users of traditional fishing waters as well as regulatory authorities.
No fewer than three ongoing issues highlight the degree of intrusion on traditional fishing grounds, McCurdy said.
He said it is “shocking” that the Government of Canada is proposing a Marine Protected Area in the Laurentian Channel off the province’s south coast in which fishing would be prohibited but activities other than fishing would be accommodated.
“What kind of second class citizens do they think fish harvesters are?” McCurdy charged.
He said that while 100% of the proposed area, which encompasses more than 11,000 square kilometres of ocean, will be closed to fishing, 83% will remain open for cable and pipeline installation, and for all practical purposes the entire area will be open for oil and gas exploration and development.
McCurdy also expressed concern about plans for installation of a telecommunications cable that’s scheduled for peak fishing time in 2015. This cable would run from Nova Scotia to Europe, and would run through prime fishing ground off the south coast and on the Grand Banks.
McCurdy said entanglement of fishing gear with a telecommunications link in the Gulf of St. Lawrence was a “nightmare” for a fishing vessel owner who was sued by the cable company.
He said the cable laying should be delayed until after the peak fishing season; that a compensation fund should be set up in the event any fishing enterprises incur damages as a result of the development; and a waiver should be put in place exempting fishing enterprises from damages arising out of ordinary fishing activity.
“These guys are the new kids on the block. They shouldn’t expect to just come in on traditional fishing grounds and take over,” McCurdy said.
He noted that the “watering down” of environmental protection regulations by the Harper government means that this proposed development no longer has to go through a proper Environmental Assessment process.
The third issue that McCurdy raised was a report that a move is afoot to reduce the amount of pilotage required for industrial users of Placentia Bay.
McCurdy said he understands a proposal has been made to water down the current mandatory requirements for large vessels using the busy bay, and that local Transport Canada officials have been bypassed.
“This flies in the face of 25 years of co-operation between various users of this bay,” he said. “There should be no watering down of the current pilotage requirements.
For further information, contact FFAW-Unifor President Earle McCurdy at (709) 576-7276 or (709) 743-5444.
Gulf of Maine Cod Peer Review Meeting – Live Streaming Information for Aug. 28-29, 2014
Dear Interested Parties:
Meeting: The public is invited to listen in to a panel of scientific experts who will review the recently released Draft Gulf of Maine Cod Operational Assessment Report on Thursday, August 28 and Friday, August 29, 2014. The meeting is scheduled to convene at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday and 8:30 a.m. on Friday.
Background: Six members of the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee and one external reviewer will serve as the panel of experts. The reviewers will evaluate whether the assessment successfully met the Terms of Reference – a set of specific tasks the assessment was directed to address. The assessment document, Terms of Reference, or ToRs, a list of the reviewers, and additional information is available at http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/saw/
Location: Sheraton Harborside Hotel, 250 Market Street, Portsmouth, NH for those who decide to attend in person. Click www.sheratonportsmouth.com/<ht
Webinar Information: Click https://www3.gotomeeting.com/
Charges for Listening: There are no charges for accessing the webinar via your computer. If you would like to listen to the meeting on your telephone, please be aware that your regular phone charges will apply.
Dial in number: +1 (872) 240-3201
Access Code: 535-601-814.
Meeting Materials: Please click here for all meeting documents: http://www.nefmc.org/tech/cte_
Questions: If you have questions prior to or during the meeting, feel free to call me at the Council office at (978) 465-0492 ext. 106, or otherwise send an email to [email protected]<mailto:pfi
Regards, Pat Fiorelli
Patricia M. Fiorelli
Public Affairs Officer
New England Fishery Management Council
50 Water Street, Mill 2
Newburyport, MA 01950
978.465.0492, ext. 106
August 5, 2014
STATE AND FEDERAL AGENCIES NAMED IN LITIGATION
Commercial fishing groups file complaint regarding Endangered Species Act
Litigation was filed today alleging that several agencies and their representatives have failed to abide by the Endangered Species Act, (ESA), in the protection of sea turtles.
Filed in Raleigh, North Carolina by two commercial fishing organizations, the complaint requests that the Court rule that the defendants have violated and continue to violate Section 9 of the ESA and have allowed the recreational hook and line fishery to “operate in a manner that has caused and is continuing to cause the illegal take of endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles and the unauthorized take of threatened loggerhead, green and leatherback sea turtles”. They further request that the Court order the defendants to implement regulations in the recreational hook and line fishery until they receive an incidental take permit, and further, for the federal agencies to conduct abundance surveys and nesting population surveys. The groups filed a letter of intent to sue in March of this year.
The listed defendants are Penny Pritzker, Secretary of the US Department of Commerce; Sally Jewell, Secretary of the US Department of the Interior; Dr. Kathleen Sullivan, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Daniel Ashe, Director of the US Fish & Wildlife Service; John Skvarla, Secretary of the NC Department of Environment & Natural Resources; Dr. Louis Daniel, Executive Director of the NC Division of Marine Fisheries; and Gordon Myers, Executive Director of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.
Plaintiffs are the North Carolina Fisheries Association, Inc,; and the Carteret County Fisherman’s Association, Inc., both non profit trade associations of commercial fishermen, seafood dealers and processors.
The complaint states that the defendants have long realized that the recreational hook and line fishery has been in violation of the ESA, yet have failed to take any action to prevent the illegal take of sea turtles in the fishery. On the other hand, commercial fishermen have been required to adhere to a number of measures in efforts to protect sea turtles, including shrimping, large mesh gillnets and the longline fishery.
Note: The North Carolina Fisheries Association is a 61 year old trade association representing the interests of commercial fishing families. It is governed by a Board of 17 Directors, including 6 affiliate groups.
The 19-page civil action is available by request, as is more detailed background information.
Please see the below Press Release from Tradex Foods.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tradex Foods Launches Tradex LIVE
Victoria, British Columbia – July 22nd, 2014 – Tradex Foods a Global Seafood Producer and Distributor is proud to announce a new and exciting tool for purchasing seafood – TradexLIVE
Tradex LIVE is an exclusive portal that displays our latest offers on H&G and Value Added seafood items Live and in Real-time. Access to this Tradex LIVE requires registration of a user account however the service is provided Free of Charge to our valued customers. This fast approach to servicing our customers saves them time on emails, saves them time on phone calls and most of all, saves them money!
Tradex LIVE was built from the ground up for efficiency. The “filter” and “search” function is Lightning Quick returning your results in Real-time. Customer will also be able to see product information such as the Catch Method, the Fishing Area and even Product Photos.
Demo: A demo has been created for you to view. Please use the login details below.
Fishing Partnership Support Services is offering two hands-on training sessions taught by Coast Guard-Certified Fishing Vessel Safety Instructors. These day-long trainings are FREE for commercial fishermen – and you’ll be learning from the best.
MAY 15: Safety & Survival Training takes you through the basic skills you need in these vital areas: Firefighting, Man-Overboard Procedures, Flooding & Pump Operations, Flares & EPIRBs, Survival Suits, Life Raft Equipment, Helicopter Hoist Procedures, and First Aid. If you have a survival suit, bring it.
FREE vaccines, blood pressure and cholesterol screenings.
MAY 16: Drill Conductor Training is the advanced “train the trainers” course for those who’ve taken Safety & Survival Training and want to conduct the required monthly drills on their fishing vessel. This course meets the federal requirements of 46 CFR28.
Location: COAST GUARD STATION GLOUCESTER 17 HARBOR LOOP, GLOUCESTER, MA 01930
7:30am – 3:00pm – Coffee and donuts; lunch provided by Ocean Marine Insurance Agency.
From: Tom Nies [mailto:[email protected]] Sent: Monday, May 05, 2014 9:20 AM Subject: Phil Haring
Long-time Council staff member Phil Haring passed away on May 3, 2014 after a courageous battle against an aggressive brain tumor. He was at home with his family. He was 60 years old.
As a young child, Phil lived in several Middle Eastern countries as his father pursued a career in the Department of Agriculture. He later joined the Merchant Marine and served as a watch officer on several large merchant ships, including the high speed SL-7 container ships introduced in the early 1970s, and kept his love of the ocean throughout his life. He spent several years crewing private yachts, the highlight of which was running Walter Cronkite’s yacht off New England. Phil also spent several years in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, working as crew on several yachts and charter fishing vessels.
Phil joined the Council staff in 1990 after earning his Master’s Degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island, where he was a classmate and roommate of MAFMC member Jeff Kaelin. Phil was the key staff member for the groundfish plan during the development of the effort control system that was adopted in Amendments 5 and 7 in the mid-90s. He continued to work on groundfish through the end of 1999, authoring three amendments and about 22 framework actions in six years. He then staffed the Atlantic Herring Committee before switching to the monkfish FMP. Phil was also the curator for the Council sound system, a thankless task that caused him considerable irritation due to his co-workers’ lack of attention to the proper use and stowage of the equipment. Phil was diagnosed with a brain tumor in early 2013, but continued to perform his duties until late October.
Phil met his wife Kris, a licensed clinical social worker, shortly after joining the staff. He often bragged of her pie-making prowess, and was proud of her success managing her own counseling service. He and Kris are the proud parents of Alex, who will finish his last semester at WPI this fall, earning a degree in engineering. Alex is an avid recreational fisherman, and he and Phil made several ice-fishing trips together in recent years. Phil’s summers were spent in his vegetable garden on the edge of the woods in Topsfield, MA. He repeatedly won awards, including best in show, for his vegetables at the annual Topsfield Fair.
In the office, we could always count on Phil for advice on the best places to eat in any city in New England. He was known for his affinity for canned seafood: sardines, octopus, squid, etc. He was a quiet friend to everyone in the office, but was not afraid to play practical jokes and had a keen sense of humor. Throughout his illness, he maintained his humor and optimism, and faced his struggle with dignity.
We are devastated by the loss of our friend.
Executive Director New England Fishery Management Council
New Assessment Concludes that Butterfish Are Not Overfished
Council Applauds Collaborative Efforts to Determine Butterfish Stock Status
|A new scientific assessment of the butterfish population indicates that the stock is not overfished and that overfishing is not occurring. These findings were detailed in the 58th Stock Assessment Workshop (SAW) Summary Report, which was released by theNMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center last month after being approved by a panel of external peer reviewers during the Stock Assessment Review Committee (SARC) process.The results of this assessment are particularly significant because the status of butterfish had been classified as “unknown” since the previous assessment was completed in 2010 (SAW/SARC 49). Although the SARC 49 review panel had agreed that overfishing was not likely occurring, it did not accept the adequacy of the biological reference points (BRPs) used for stock status determination.|
The high degree of uncertainty in the previous assessment was due in part to the biology of the stock. Butterfish are relatively short-lived and experience high rates of natural mortality. These factors make the stock size strongly dependent on recruitment, resulting in high variability in stock size estimates from year to year.
For the most recent assessment, scientists sought to reduce some of these sources of uncertainty by utilizing a new modeling approach that incorporated current research on estimation of catchability. This revised approach provided an improved basis for understanding the stock history and allowed for the successful estimation of BRPs. The reviewer summary found that the incorporation of new information from research studies “led to improved understandings of the population dynamics.”
In addition to determining that the stock was not overfished (at or above BMSY), the assessment also concluded that the stock had been above the biomass target for the entirety of the time series used (1989-2012).
“This assessment represents tremendous progress that’s being made through ongoing collaborative efforts to understand the dynamics and status of this fishery,” said Council Chairman Rick Robins. “Having a conclusive, peer-reviewed stock assessment is a major leap forward in this fishery.”
Support for the stock assessment was expressed by a number of Council members and other attendees at the Council’s most recent meeting in Montauk, New York. “A lot of people from many different disciplines played an integral part in the success of this, and I think the results speak for themselves,” said Greg DiDomenico, Executive Director of the Garden State Seafood Association. “This type of collaboration needs to be applied to other species.”
Meeting attendees also noted the contributions of Geir Monsen, an advisor to the Council who passed away last year. “Geir Monsen’s persistent encouragement to improve our understanding of this fishery has come to fruition,” stated Chairman Robins. “His efforts will benefit the resource, the fishery, and the Council.”
Although it has not yet been determined how the new assessment will affect butterfish quotas for 2015 and beyond, many fishermen are hopeful that higher quotas will allow for expansion of a directed butterfish fishery.
“From a practical standpoint, the outcome we have now is that there are enough fish for a directed fishery while still accounting for the forage needs of other species and accommodating the longfin squidfishery,” said DiDomenico. “The fact that we’ve got people in other countries eating butterfish caught by U.S. fishermen cannot be overlooked.”
A complete summary of the stock assessment results, including assessments for tilefish and northern shrimp, is available here.
CNMI Got ‘Jacked,’ Fishery Management Council Is Told
CNMI Submerged Lands and Militarization
CNMI Gov. Eloy S. Inos opened the Council meeting Monday noting fishery-related issues of concern to the Commonwealth. Key among them was President Obama’s Jan. 15, 2014, Presidential proclamation that withholds the transference of submerged lands 0 to 3 miles around five of the 14 islands that comprise the Commonwealth, i.e., Farallon de Pajaros (Uracas), Maug, Asuncion, Farallon De Medinilla (FDM) and Tinian.
U.S. Public Law 113-34, enacted in September 2013, conveyed title to the submerged lands around the 14 Northern Marianas Islands to the government of the Commonwealth. But President Barack Obama’s proclamation temporarily withholds transfer of the lands around Uracas, Maug and Asuncion (i.e., the Island Units of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument) pending an agreement for “coordination of management that ensures the protection of the marine national monument within the excepted area.” Similarly, lands around US military leases on the islands of Tinian and FDM will be transferred upon an agreement that “ensures protection of military training within the excepted area,” the Proclamation says.
Inos said it is possible for NOAA and US Fish and Wildlife Service to continually disapprove any management agreement so they can retain control over the submerged lands within the monument. He asked the Council to support Commonwealth efforts to have the submerged lands “presently being held hostage by the US Departments of Commerce and the Interior returned to their rightful owners.”
“CNMI got jacked,” noted Arnold Palacios, Council chair and Secretary of the CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources (DLNR). “They gave us the submerged lands and then they took it back …. I don’t think they [Departments of Commerce and the Interior] are interested in co-management. The Antiquities Act [used to create the monument] doesn’t allow the co-management that was promised to us by the White House envoy.”
The Marianas TrenchMonument was created by President George W. Bush by Presidential proclamation on Jan. 6, 2009. The monument includes 95,216 square miles (60,938,240 acres) of submerged lands and waters in various places in the Mariana Archipelago and no dry land area.
“We got slapped, NOAA got slapped,” said John Gourley, a CNMI resident providing public comment. He noted that the Department of the Interior has sole management of the Volcanic and Trench Units of the monument, which contain two-thirds of the monument area.” While the Council membership includes a representative from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, that person was not present at the meeting. “We were blind-sided and treated unfairly,” Gourley said, adding that the authority of the withheld submerged lands should be returned to the Commonwealth.
“I’m angry, disappointed and frustrated,” said Lino Olopai, a CNMI resident of Carolinian descent. The Carolinian along with the Chamorro are the two indigenous peoples of CNMI. Olopai noted that their ancestral land predates the legal teachings that came “out of the blue” and were imposed upon them despite the language barriers for those who still use their native language as their primary language. He noted that the ancestral land, which was understood to include the water, was “handed down generation to generation without legal title. … Why can’t the American government understand and give the submerged lands back to me and then we will sit down and share it together …Give back what is rightfully ours with or without a legal document.”
“It is encroachment,” noted Council Executive Director Kitty Simonds, referring to FDM. A prime bottomfish fishing ground that is accessible to Saipan residents, FDM was occasionally closed to fishing by the military out to 3 miles for live-fire training, then 7 miles and now 10 miles with talk of permanent closures out to 12 miles.
“We aren’t asking the military to leave [CNMI],” said Commonwealth resident Rosemond Santos, a member of Guardians of Gani, former CNMI legislator and attorney. “But they have taken enough. We want them to respect us.” Gani is a Chammoro term for the islands in the CNMI north of Saipan, including FDM, Pagan (another island the military has been considering for training use) and the other northern islands, including the three contained in the monument.
“We do not own the land and ocean around our islands, we belong to it,” said Genevieve S. Cabera, another Guardians of Gani member. “The primary concern now is militarization … the military pushing the envelope.”
CNMI resident Gary Sword noted that the militarized waters around Guam and Tinian take away huge fishing areas. He said the average annual income per family in CNMI is $23,000. “We are not rich,” he noted. He also pointed out that residents cannot fish within 500 yards around Naval ships that utilize 11 prepositioning sites offshore Saipan. He said the heavy chains and anchors are killing the reefs, which are habitat for the fish. “Our fishing industry is dying because we don’t have anywhere to go fish,” he said.
Sword continued, giving a short history of the military in the CNMI. He said the Battle of Saipan during World War II included 524 ships and 30 days of warfare, leaving only 300 Chamorro living in caves. Then they were put into internment camps for two years. “The people of the CNMI have suffered a lot,” he said. “We have given a lot.” He noted that Tinian is the island from where the planes left with atomic bombs to stop the war. “Can we get some recognition for that? … Our children’s future is at stake. CNMI is crying out.”
The Council directed its staff to work with the CNMI government in its efforts regarding the submerged lands restricted by the President’s proclamation. The Council will also request that the Departments of Defense (DOD) and the Interior provide maps to the CNMI showing specifically the placement of CNMI’s 3-nautical mile boundary and CNMI submerged lands throughout the archipelago. The Council also directed its staff to continue monitoring DOD activities in relation to fishing access regarding potential closures around FDM, Tinian and Guam and request that the DOD and other entities provide financial support to the Marianas Integrated Management Committee, established to facilitate communication between the military and communities.
The Council also will urge the DOD to review the placement of their prepositioning ships in the CNMI; collect additional information from existing anchorage sites, to review changes in the anchorage and non-anchorage zones; promote a permanent mooring system, which would minimize further damage to the benthic environment, thereby allowing recovery of coral reef habitat; continue to pursue avenues to mitigate damage to benthic resources; and revisit and revise memorandum of understanding between the US Navy and CNMI, which allowed the Navy to anchor the prepositioning ships without payment to the CNMI but may be expired. The Council recommended that the DOD provide the aforementioned assessments to the CNMI government upon completion.
Coral Reef Fisheries Annual Quotas
The 2006 reauthorized MSA requires that all federally managed fisheries have ACLs. Exceptions include fisheries that are managed internationally, fisheries for species with life cycles of less than one year, and non-targeted species designated as components of the ecosystem. The MSA also requires that the SSC determine the acceptable biological catch (ABC) and that the ACL recommended by the Council not exceed the ABC.
The Council reviewed the ABCs specified by the SSC for coral reef fisheries in Hawai`i, American Samoa, Guam and the CNMI and recommended that the ACLs be set 5 percent lower than the ABCs. The reduction takes into account social, economic, ecological and management uncertainty. The ACL is associated with a 25 to 40 percent chance of exceeding maximum sustainable yield (MSY), depending upon the species complex. MSA allows up to 50 percent probability of overfishing. The ACLs will apply for fishing year 2015 to 2018. A complete list of ACLs for coral reef fisheries for 2015 to 2018 can be found on the last page of this document.
Conflicting Local and Federal Shark Regulations
The Council heard presentations about the conflicting local and federal shark management regulations. The CNMI laws forbid landing of sharks with fins but allow landing of sharks for subsistence use. The federal law forbids the landing of sharks without the fins naturally attached. During a Fishers Forum on the issue of sharks held as part of the Council meeting on Monday night in Saipan, CNMI Congressman Ray Tebuteb noted that the CNMI shark management regulations were developed under a short time with limited information. Council senior scientist Paul Dalzell presented on the continued problem of shark depredation that fishermen have reported since the 1940s. The Council directed its staff to facilitate resolution of the conflict between federal and local shark regulations.
The Council heard presentations about the regulation that restricts vessels larger than 40 feet from fishing for bottomfish 50 nautical miles (nm) around the southern islands of CNMI and 10 nm around the northern island of Alamagan. It was noted that, in 2009, the regulation was established to address concerns that larger vessels would enter into the fishery, compete with small boat local fishermen and impact the stock. Given the healthy state of the stock, the impacts of the regulations on the local fishing industry and concerns about the future of the local fishery, the Council recommended that as preferred preliminary alternatives that the bottomfish area closures around the Southern Islands and around the northern island of Alamagan be removed. Before the next Council meeting in June 2014, Council staff was directed to conduct meetings in Rota and Tinian to review the alternatives with those communities.
Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council: Appointees by the Secretary of Commerce from nominees selected by American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and Hawaii governors: Michael Duenas, Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association (Guam) (Vice Chair) ; Edwin Ebisui (Hawaii) (Vice Chair); Richard Seman, education and outreach specialist (CNMI); ); William Sword, recreational fisherman (American Samoa) (Vice Chair); Michael Goto, United Fishing Agency Ltd. (Hawaii); Julie Leialoha, biologist (Hawaii); Dr. Claire Tuia Poumele, Port Administration (American Samoa); and McGrew Rice, commercial and charter fisherman (Hawaii). Designated state officials: Arnold Palacios, CNMI Department of Land & Natural Resources (chair); William Aila, Hawaii Department of Land & Natural Resources; Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga, American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources; and Mariquita Taitague, Guam Department of Agriculture. Designated federal officials: Michael Tosatto, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office; Bill Gibbons-Fly, US Department of State; RAdm Cari B. Thomas, US Coast Guard 14th District; and Susan White, Pacific Reefs National Wildlife Refuges Complex.
National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Region
& United States Commissioner,
International Pacific Halibut Commission
P.O. Box 21668
Juneau, AK 99802
March 5, 2014
Response to February 19, 2014 NEWS RELEASE from NOAA Fisheries: NOAA TIGHTENS HALIBUT BYCATCH LIMITS FOR GULF OF ALASKA GROUNDFISH FISHERIES.
While NOAA puts a public spokesperson name on the news release for Amendment 95, let’s face facts — you are the Alaska administrator, and a voting member of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Accordingly, your news release was considered insensitive and not well received by disappointed GOA hook and line halibut fishermen: on line with other pro-trawler actions by the NPFMC and NMFS/NOAA.
Amendment 95 is not fair and equitable in practice. You and the agency and NPFMC are not doing what is feasible, not obeying the UN FAO precautionary principle, not balancing the economic impact among sectors, not doing what is best for overall national benefit and not serving USA consumers.
‘To the extent practicable’ — really?
It is high time NMFS and the NPFMC fully grasp that the directed halibut fishery has been reduced from 100% to 27% over the past ten years while Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska (BSAI, GOA) trawl fisheries continually receive extreme levels (millions of pounds) of halibut bycatch. How does your office square this with sixty (60) or more amendments to the North Pacific Gulf of Alaska Groundfish Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) since 1977 and the role of the far older bilateral agreement based International Pacific Halibut Commission — IPHC?
Does not the latter have treaty precedence over regional fishery management council (RFMC) FMPs or federal fishery legislation such as the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) and related second-rate law? In other words, how does the Secretary of Commerce and RFMC realm dominate over Congressional first-rate Treaty power?
As you know, the NPFMC June 2013 Groundfish FMP supporting document reminds in “5 Relationship to Applicable Law and Other Fisheries—5.2 International Conventions” of the “Convention for the Preservation of the Halibut Fishery of the North Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea (basic instrument for the IPHC)” of which you are a United States commissioner.
GOA groundfish Amendment 95, was a long time in coming, but about the phrase “to the extent practicable” — what does it mean to you in the dual-management course regarding the halibut specter? Should we, and consumers, be insulted by how the term is applied or become reassured that continually unwarranted trawl bycatch can in any way help restore halibut stocks? NMFS and the Council seem to be totally impracticable; not only to us, but to any American consumer with whom we discuss halibut bycatch and bilateral legal intentions.
After all, the December 2013 expansion of GOA groundfish total allowable catch (TAC) by 52,000 MT has essentially removed any argument that there is still “a race for fish” that would warrant a trawl catch shares solution — giveaway allocations to the fleet imperiling halibut’s future. So why all this talk of allocation and so little about methods available to reduce bycatch, such as time and area closures, geographic multispecies problem identification and appropriate mitigation, etc.? We hear the long dragged-out gear modification (excluder) discussion and can’t help but wonder, “when if ever?”
Jim, as NOAA’s representative on the NPFMC, and coinciding IPHC commissioner, we would appreciate you personally leading the way on strongly enforcing the real meaning of “to the extent practicable” in a multispecies, multi-sectored arena. We expect you to be the strong voice at NPFMC when groundfishery amendments fail to protect the halibut and our directed fisheries. Otherwise, you represent the failure of NMFS on the frontline of destruction.
As the document says, “Many of the management measures contained herein are for the expressed purpose of mitigating a severe crisis in the domestic halibut fishery by recognizing a situation in which the trawl fishery (and possibly the sablefish setline fishery) could be a major contributor to declining halibut abundance.” And “the IPHC was created to conserve, manage, and rebuild the halibut stocks…”
Are you going to push the NPFMC and NOAA to reduce the bycatch of halibut, NOW!? Does Amendment 95 even come close to making sense? We’ve been taking huge cuts in the directed halibut fleet, year after year, while this small (almost insignificant) and easily attainable trawl bycatch reduction slowly comes into play by 2016.
Please, what are the real rates of GOA trawl bycatch, and reduction potential, after removing the gaming of the observer system? No one in the trawl fleet has ever come forward with the truth of what is possible, let alone what they actually bycatch. Observer coverage has now gone down from inadequate to miserably low. Only government can force that fleet to be forthcoming, and NOAA has failed wholly in that regard. Yes, wholly, because NMFS is still making “to the extent practicable” excuses.
Haven’t longliners have told you for 8 years that we’d pay for 100% trawl coverage? What could you have done to work for the consumers, for the taxpayers, for us and the halibut convention and providing best science, not best delay tactics?
It’s also galling that NMFS spits out in a news release, when stating — absent adequate scientific information and observer coverage — the damning-the-halibut-to-doom phrase, “while preserving the potential for the full harvest of groundfish in the GOA.” What about preserving the potential for the full harvest of commercial halibut in the GOA and the BSAI, as well?
I meaningfully represent the voice of halibut directed fishers when I say that the trawlers must stop operating on a different playing field from us. They never take any reasonable bycatch cutback while we take the brunt of the IPHC cutbacks. Why can’t it be understood that the trawlers are deliberately committing a wanton destruction of our resources, and that is embezzling our IFQ wealth?
Trawlers cried about backing off a meager 7.5%, howled about an insufficient15%, but the real question is how we are going to get the trawlers cut down so that they cannot continue to decimate halibut stocks. I.E. so that they cannot keep on operating irresponsibly, at the expense of other sectors’ incomes.
Do we run them out of business, since you’ve already ran us almost out of business? Or can the Agency and Council turn this around while we still have a small chance to recover our halibut, crab and other multispecies stocks?
Optimum Yield means Multispecies:
What about our optimum yield (directed halibut): doesn’t it matter, too? Is it not also practicable to shut trawlers down to the same level as other sectors until they fish responsibly? Again, I’ll remind you of our struggle to get 100% of the time observer coverage on all GOA trawlers so that the Council would know what is happening. Not once has it been done; but just one season of 100% observer data would provide best science.
If it shows underreporting has been going on in the GOA compared to the BSAI, as we suspect, then stronger disincentives to abuse halibut are warranted. If it shows the lower bycatch levels in the GOA are real, that had another effect, and gives the IPHC valuable, essential information to making its annual stock decisions.
Defining MSY re Amendment 95:
For now, there remains a demonstrably incomprehensible gap between the trawl sector’s balance of targeting and bycatch fisheries, when contrasted with the directed halibut fleet’s balance. The former tilts toward wanton destruction of commonwealth and ecosystem collapse for halibut while the latter tilts toward consumer-serving and wealth producing sustainability. Shouldn’t the Council, with IPCH assistance, do Cost-Benefit analyses, and show value tradeoffs and comparisons, and how the nation and consumers fair under different management scenarios?
As G.P. Goodyear (NMFS 1996) said: “ … setting MSY as a management objective will often be insufficient for developing management advice unless the desire[d]
long-term age composition of the catch or some other qualifying factor is also specified. This is particularly true for the situation in which fisheries with inherently different selectivity compete for a resource …”
NOAA has ‘no data’ sufficiency, and lacks (i.e. we have yet to see) any “deterministic population simulation model.” Please feel free to correct me if that is not true. More to this letter’s context, as Joseph E. Powers states from NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center, “Perhaps, the most important implication is that before analysts can calculate maximum sustainable yield and associated parameters, management needs to define their desired mix of fishing and what “to the extent practicable” means.”
Powers reminds, “While Goodyear’s analysis was directed at the effects of target fisheries with different selectivities (such as commercial versus recreational), his comments are no less applicable when considering fisheries which discard bycatch of a particular stock in conjunction with other fisheries which target that same stock. The implications of Goodyear’s comments are that: MSY cannot be calculated until management has defined “extent practicable”! (underline added)
He talks in meaningful and reasonable terms, about “the dilemma faced by analysts when bycatch reduction goals (and allocations) are not defined. Additionally, metrics are suggested for evaluating ‘practicable’ bycatch reduction scenarios in terms of biological risk.” Finally, this note encourages debate on socio-economic, biological and ecological implications of bycatch reduction scenarios so that informed definitions of practicable bycatch solutions may be made.”
Imbalanced Public Input, as the GAO found out:
I have repeatedly sat through NPFMC discussions about bycatch and observer coverage, and generally heard scant discussion about such combined implications. The trawlers are unmistakably driving the regulatory boat, demanding first priority in GOA privatization, and
The problem started nearly 40 years ago by emphasizing GOA amendments are for groundfish, and relegating all the other multispecies to second class regulatory status. 60 amendments later, the focus is still on the trawlers’ brass polishing while halibut, crab and other interests clean the bilges and bureaucrats distance themselves from the hard work of going beyond looking at the cod ends, only. Maybe that’s a carryover from the initial focus on TALFF and foreign trawlers and motherships, as foreigners now own the shoreside groundfish plants instead. Trawler allocation focus takes up an inordinate amount of staff time, and budgets.
Jim, is there a calculation for the tens of millions of dollars this has cost Commerce as the NPFMC continues draining taxpayer coffers for this game?
It is primarily longline halibut directed fishers who get a mere 3 minutes, separately, to voice our concerns on the record — only to find the Council has pre-conceived its pro-trawler motion, guided by NOAA catch share mentality. Therefore, 15% reduction, far too little and too late, instead of a 73% cutback like we have had to take in recent years. What of the requirement to adapt the precautionary approach?
Over and over we are reminded, but cut short on “to the extent practicable” that 16 U.S.C. 1851-1852 MSA §§ 301-302; Public Law 104-297 outlines National Standard “(9) Conservation and management measures shall, to the extent practicable, (A) minimize bycatch and (B) to the extent bycatch cannot be avoided, minimize the mortality of such bycatch.” It seems nothing short of draconian to reduce hook and line directed fisheries by 20 to 30% or more annually, year after year, because it is deemed practicable. Well, to us, it is ‘practicable’ to also have trawlers to share by severe cutbacks in bycatch.
It’s clearly not for Safety nor to end a Race for Fish:
Canadian trawlers have to adhere to more imposing standards. In addition, studies show that safety among trawlers after catch shares were awarded, decreased. This contrasts also with the United States P.L. 104-297 Standard stating “(10) Conservation and management measures shall, to the extent practicable, promote the safety of human life at sea.” Clearly it may not practicable to award quotas to trawlers, despite common perceptions that they serve safety at-sea.
Notably, the recent 52,000 MT increase in pollock TAC for the GOA essentially ended “the race for fish,” as recently confirmed in a Kodiak public fishery meeting by the Alaska Groundfish Data Bank (Julie Bonney), in a moment of truthful clarity. So what, again, is the reason for GOA groundfish privatization?
The Precautionary Approach:
Returning to C.F.R. § 600.350 (J) Social effects, adds, “(ii) The Councils should adhere to the precautionary approach found in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (Article 6.5).” In addition, Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration of the UN Conference on Environment and Development and the 1995 United Nations Fish Stock Agreement strengthening the precautionary approach, combined, address “regardless of their jurisdictional nature, recognizing that most problems affecting fisheries result from insufficiency of precaution in management regimes when faced with the high levels of uncertainty encountered in fisheries.”
Recently, voting in favor of my/our proposal, the Alaska Board of Fish closed the final bays around Kodiak Island that were left open to hard-on-bottom trawling, and we hope someday they will exclude all trawling in state waters, like is done in SE Alaska. Halibut and salmon were on their minds.
What is precautionary about reducing overall observer coverage on trawlers from 30% to around 13%, and thereby hogtieing analysis from ever gaining legitimate data? What is precautionary about a stepped cutback of only 15%, even 50%,
73% reduction, i.e. matching trawl reductions directly to that of the directed halibut ACL/TAC quota? Are you certain that NMFS is in compliance with Article 6.5?
“To the extent ‘able to be’” means…
Foremost, let’s just get clarity on what the adjective “practicable” means: capable of being done, effected, or put into practice, with the available means; feasible, capable of being used, designed or constructed for actual use; workable, achievable, attainable. Practicable is that which can be done with the means at hand and with conditions as they are and given current and emerging technology, along with more area closures and time adjustments, under greater levels of observation, too.
To a hook and line fisher, regarding trawlers, practicable means trawlers can keep their nets completely off the bottom (not ride there on small disks in order to fake avoidance while knowing halibut stir and end up in their nets), they can not fish at night, and can move away from halibut grounds and find groundfish elsewhere; and they can take a 73% cut in their GOA (and more in the BSAI) fishery income, too. Is it not feasible, ‘practicable,’ for them to also share with us the overall economic loss?
Bycatch Matters & Data Collection is Imperative:
§ 600.350 National Standard 9—Bycatch: (d) Minimizing bycatch and bycatch mortality, states “The priority under this standard is first to avoid catching bycatch species where practicable.” It goes on to immediately state “Fish that are bycatch and cannot be avoided must, to the extent practicable, be returned to the sea alive. Any proposed conservation and management measure that does not give priority to avoiding the capture of bycatch species must be supported by appropriate analyses.”
Trawlers cannot return to the sea alive, to any reasonable measure, survivable halibut. And I have never seen anything close to “appropriate analysis.” Based on what expert data, may I ask you to show us?
Rather, we note that in combination with § 600.350, MSA 303(1)(11+12), tells us that you are responsible to “promote development of a database on bycatch and bycatch mortality in the fishery to the extent practicable.” There’s that adjective again. Does it have meaning or simply serve as an excuse for NPFMC failures?
To me, obtaining that data has long meant a proposal for100% of the time observer coverage in the GOA, preferably paid for by trawlers — but which hook and line fishermen have long agreed to fund: because we knew that absent that database, our future, now turned into the present — was solely politically doomed.
In that meantime, how many millions has NMFS spent on a slowly developing and far more costly Observer program that has had the effect of reducing Trawl observation by two thirds, to 13% — one ninth of what’s ‘practicable’ and cost effective.
Predictably, we now barely pay seasonal fishery expenses on the highly reduced directed harvest pounds. It makes me sick to watch my vessels docked while trawlers not only in large part clearly caused the directed halibut quota drop (their propaganda to the contrary) while they got 52,000 MT more groundfish this year in the GOA, which only increases the pressure on destruction of our halibut.
Bycatch reduction is obviously not much of a NMFS or NPFMC priority, despite the many laws.
The October 9, 2012 NPFMC motion on ‘GOA Trawl PSC Tools’ contains many errors. Regarding the Purpose and Need Statement: Surely safety will not improve just like Canada; and as we experience in BSAI crab, the processing plants will still tightly schedule deliveries and the fleet will continue to fish in questionable weather. It is also rather flagrant to state “This program will not modify overall management of other sectors in the GOA … which already operate under a catch share system.” On paper? What a convenient trawl-faced lie. Because I can guarantee you that my entire business plan and quota management and accounting (cash inflows and outflows) and financial credit, for Area 3 and Area 4 annual halibut operations has been devastatingly modified. As is true for other halibut longliners.
Regarding the Goals and Objectives: there’s no concern for related species’ “fair and equitable access” or “consideration [of] the value of assets and investments” and what it means to our community when we bring home coast wide halibut income. Is Goal 5 taken seriously — “Balance interests of all sectors and provide equitable distribution of benefits and similar opportunities for increased value” — by the NPFMC and your office? How about Goal 13: “Minimize adverse impacts on sectors and areas not included in the program” — how is that happening?
Fair and Equitable would reallocate Groundfish and PSC to Longliners:
It is a simple observation that the NPFMC and Commerce are allowing the trawlers to conduct a massive directed fishery on halibut bycatch, within international jurisdiction. It is an obvious conclusion that one redress for those harms would be to reallocate a portion of the groundfisheries and PSC — should a catch share system be emplaced, as is the apparently unstoppable political will of NOAA — to the harmed longline sector.
We’d find a way to hire a few clean fishing skippers and put to sea trawlers and crews that truly care about conservation and bycatch reduction. Then you could compare our 100% observed clean practices to the existing devastation. Allow us to keep the marketable halibut and reward USA consumers with high quality protein, contributing to maximizing the net national benefits.
It would be ‘practicable’ to kindly answer to many questions posed within this letter.
As you know, GOA bycatch rates deviate inexplicably from the BSAI, and the public perception justified by that is “trawlers are raping the ocean.” Likewise, Bering Sea areas that are closed to longliners, to help rebuilding halibut stocks, remain open to trawlers. The top rapists — hard on bottom trawlers — are allowed to operate there. What good does that do?
They have no defense, no facts to warrant this welcome to the school yard management policy. The facts are on our side, and we are bound to the IPHC convention while they scurry off to the shadows to massacre halibut as bycatch. It hardly needs mentioning again, PSC means “prohibited species catch.”
The trawlers fishing behavior will not improve until the government comes along, like in Canada, and says ‘you will change, now!’ And until they rush to put observers aboard, full time, and finally determine their true level of responsibility for halibut declines.
Government must stop them from fighting the 100% full time coverage, which can only be viewed by ‘a reasonable man’ as concealing the truth.
Jim, retirement approaches and you won’t be with us that much longer on the NPFMC. Isn’t it time you be the one to start pounding a shoe on the table and champion the cause of fair and equitable FMPs “mitigating the severe crisis in the domestic halibut fishery” and holding trawlers’ feet to the responsibility and accountability fire?
We’d like your help, Administrator. Commissioner.
Ludger W. Dochtermann; F/V North Point, F/V Stormbird
P.O. Box 714; Kodiak, AK 99615