NEW ENGLAND FISHERY MANAGEMENT COUNCIL
Red Crab Advisory Panel
Rossi’s Restaurant, Newburyport, MA
January 8, 2002
The Council’s Red Crab Advisory Panel, chaired by Mr. Frank Wetmore, met to discuss the draft
Red Crab FMP and DEIS and to provide recommendations to the Red Crab Committee on the
management alternatives identified in the FMP. Seven advisors attended the meeting, including:
Messrs. Allen, Cooke, Goff, Guimond, Sandler, Wetmore, and Williams. Michael Pentony,
Council staff, attended the meeting. There was one audience member, Mr. Jeff Pike.
Mr. Pentony provided an overview of the purpose of the meeting, which was to have the advisors
meet and try to develop consensus recommendations for the Red Crab Committee and Council
on the various management alternatives, measures and options under consideration for the Red
Crab FMP. Mr. Pentony also identified several issues that remained unresolved and on which
the Committee and Council were seeking input from the industry members. These included: (1)
the start of the fishing year; (2) trip limits; (3) maximum trap size; and (4) gear markings.
Mr. Wetmore suggested that the advisors address each of these items first, and then proceed with
the other elements of the proposed FMP. The advisors agreed and Mr. Pentony described each
of the first items in more detail.
Start of the Fishing Year:
The advisors discussed several alternatives for when the red crab fishing year might start. Mr.
Pentony suggested that beginning the fishing year on the day after the expiration of the second
emergency period, May 15, might be the best from an administrative perspective. The advisors
acknowledged that this may be so, but agreed by consensus that the fishing year should instead
start on the day the Red Crab FMP is implemented (e.g., the day the final rule is published).
Maximum Trap Size:
The advisors discussed options for a maximum trap size and agreed that the maximum size
should be specified as a maximum allowable volume to retain flexibility for different trap
designs. The advisors agreed that Council staff should use the dimensions for the rectangular
and conical traps provided by industry members to calculate the volumes of the traps currently in
use. They recommended the Committee and Council use these calculated volumes to set the
maximum allowable trap volume in the directed red crab fishery.
The advisors discussed the need for gear markings to be required and specified in the FMP and
agreed to recommend to the Committee and Council the following conventions: (1) all red crab
fishing gear would be marked by the vessel on the buoys at each end of each trawl of traps; (2)
on the top of the buoy, the letters “Red Crab Committee” would be painted to indicate that it is
red crab gear; (3) on the side of the buoy, the initials of the vessel would be painted; and (4) also
on the side of the buoy, the trawl number would be indicated (i.e., “3 of 6” to indicate trawl
number 3 of a maximum of 6 for that vessel).
The advisors discussed the need for and best approach for implementing a trip limit for the
directed red crab fishery. Mr. Pike indicated that he believed a trip limit was unnecessary and
that the type of trip limit suggested by some of the industry members would be disadvantageous
only to the vessels he represents. Several advisors responded that the intention of the differential
trip limit is to maintain the capacity of the fishing fleet to be equal to what it was prior to the
control date. Following this discussion, the advisors present at the meeting agreed that they
recommend the Committee and Council adopt differential trip limits for each vessel, based on
the vessel’s highest trip on record during the controlled access qualification period.
Other Elements of the Proposed FMP:
The advisors support the Council’s preferred alternative for the management unit, Cape Hatteras,
The advisors support the Council’s preferred alternative for the overfishing definition.
The advisors support the Council’s preferred alternative for optimum yield to be based on MSY
and adjusted for social, economic, and ecological factors as information warrants.
Essential Fish Habitat
The advisors support the Council’s preferred alternative for the designation of EFH for red crab.
Permits and Reporting
The advisors support the Council’s preferred alternative for the proposed permitting and
reporting requirements for the red crab fishery.
Annual Specifications and Framework Adjustment Process
The advisors support the Council’s proposed annual specifications and framework adjustment
process for the Red Crab FMP.
The advisors support the Council’s preferred option for the directed red crab fishery to be
regulated as male-only with a prohibition on the landing of female red crabs. The advisors noted
that the FMP should be clear that there will be an allowance for the incidental landing of female
crabs of up to 1% by weight.
Incidental Catch Limit
The advisors support the Council’s preferred option for a 500 pound incidental catch limit, but
also have no objection to the proposal for a seasonal 1000 pound incidental catch limit. The
advisors agreed that they would be okay with any incidental catch limit up to 1000 pounds per
trip. The advisors also agreed that the incidental catch limit should apply to red crab vessels if
they are not fishing on a red crab day-at-sea (i.e., they are off the red crab clock and participating
in another fishery). To accommodate this, the advisors indicated that red crab vessels should be
eligible for a red crab incidental catch permit as well as a controlled access permit.
Minimum Size of Landed Crabs
The advisors support the Council’s preferred option, Optio n 6, for a non-regulatory minimum
size, understanding that a regulated minimum size could be implemented via a framework action
if the science indicates that too many small crabs are being landed.
Butchering and Processing-at-Sea Restrictions
The advisors support the Council’s preferred options for the butchering and processing-at-sea
restrictions, but recommended that the appropriate recovery rates be clearly specified in the
The advisors support the Council’s preferred option for a limit of 600 traps per vessel for all
directed red crab vessels. The advisors recommended that we need to clearly differentiate the
limit on the number of red crab traps from any other gear that the vessel may use. The advisors
agreed that they had no objections to red crab vessels participating in other fisheries, but
acknowledge that we need a way to deal with other potential gear. The advisors suggested that
the FMP use specific language to indicate that there is a limit on the red crab traps used by each
vessel. The advisors were clear that their intention was not to prevent red crab vessels from
participating in other fisheries. They suggested that NMFS staff from the Regional Office may
have a mechanism to deal with this issue as a result of their experiences with the emergency
Gear Requirements and Restrictions
The advisors support the Council’s preferred options for the proposed gear requirements and
Total Allowable Catch
The advisors support the Council’s preferred options for a target TAC based on the annual target
yield for the fishery.
Controlled Access Program
Although there was some discussion on the merits of the proposed vessel upgrading and transfer
restrictions included as part of the controlled access program, the advisors support the Council’s
preferred options for the controlled access program, including the proposed qualification criteria.
The advisors support the Council’s preferred options for the DAS program in the directed red
Other Comments on the FMP:
The advisors had no other comments on the draft Red Crab FMP.
There was no other business discussed by the Red Crab Advisory Panel.