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GULF OF MEXICO FISHERY MANAGEMENT COUNCIL

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					                                                   TAB B, No. 2
 1              GULF OF MEXICO FISHERY MANAGEMENT COUNCIL
 2
 3                     REEF FISH MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE
 4
 5   The Beau Rivage                              Biloxi, Mississippi
 6
 7                          OCTOBER 29-30, 2007
 8
 9                            October 29, 2007
10
11   VOTING MEMBERS
12   Vernon Minton.............................................Alabama
13   Roy Crabtree..................NMFS, SERO, St. Petersburg, Florida
14   Robert Gill...............................................Florida
15   Julie Morris..............................................Florida
16   William Teehan (designee for Ken Haddad)..................Florida
17   Bobbi Walker..............................................Alabama
18
19   NON-VOTING MEMBERS
20   Columbus Brown............................U.S. Fish and Wildlife
21   Bill Daughdrill...........................................Florida
22   Karen Foote.............................................Louisiana
23   Joe Hendrix.................................................Texas
24   Tom McIlwain..........................................Mississippi
25   Harlon Pearce...........................................Louisiana
26   William Perret (designee for William Walker)..........Mississippi
27   Michael Ray.................................................Texas
28   Robin Riechers (designee for Larry McKinney)................Texas
29   Bob Shipp.................................................Alabama
30   Susan Villere...........................................Louisiana
31   Kay Williams..........................................Mississippi
32
33   STAFF
34   Steven Atran..................................Fisheries Biologist
35   Janet Bernard...........................................Secretary
36   Assane Diagne...........................................Economist
37   Trish Kennedy............................Administrative Assistant
38   Stu Kennedy...................................Fisheries Biologist
39   Rick Leard..............................Deputy Executive Director
40   Michael McLemore.............................NOAA General Counsel
41   Charlene Ponce.........................Public Information Officer
42   Wayne Swingle..................................Executive Director
43   Amanda Thomas......................................Court Reporter
44
45   OTHER PARTICIPANTS
46   Dave Allison...............................................Oceana
47   Pam Baker...................................Environmental Defense
48   Buffy Baumann..............................Oceana, Washington, DC

                                     1
 1
 2   Lt. Cliff Beard......... 8th Coast Guard District, New Orleans, LA
 3   Glen Brooks...............................................GFA, FL
 4   Felicia Coleman...............................................FSU
 5   Marianne Cufone....................................GRN, Tampa, FL
 6   David Cupka.................................................SAFMC
 7   Ken Daniels............................................Ruskin, FL
 8   Andy David..................................................SEFSC
 9   Dale Diaz..............................................Biloxi, MS
10   Wes Erickson.....................................British Columbia
11   Libby Fetherston............Ocean Conservancy, St. Petersburg, FL
12   Chris Gledhill..............................................SEFSC
13   John Greene............................................Daphne, AL
14   Tom Jamir..............................................NOAA SEFSC
15   Chris Koenig..................................................FSU
16   John Koolman.....................................British Columbia
17   Vishwanie Maharaj...............Environmental Defense, Austin, TX
18   Jim Nance....................................................NMFS
19   Russell Nelson............................................CCA, FL
20   Bart Niquet.......................................Panama City, FL
21   Dennis O’Hern.............................FRA, St. Petersburg, FL
22   Joe Powers...................................................NOAA
23   Tracy Redding.................................Bon Secour, Alabama
24   Darden Rice....................................St. Petersburg, FL
25   Hal Robbins..............................................NOAA OLE
26   Bob Spaeth..............Southern Offshore Fishing Association, FL
27   Phil Steele........................................NOAA Fisheries
28   Andy Strelcheck..............................................NMFS
29   Bill Tucker...........................................Dunedin, FL
30   Carl Walters..................................................UBC
31   Donald Waters.......................................Pensacola, Fl
32   Wayne Werner..........................................Alachua, FL
33   Bob Zales, II, .....Panama City Boatmen’s Assoc., Panama City, FL
34
35                                 - - -
36
37   The Reef Fish Management Committee of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery
38   Management Council convened in the Camellia Ballroom of the Beau
39   Rivage, Biloxi, Mississippi, Monday afternoon, October 29, 2007,
40   and was called to order at 1:00 o’clock p.m. by Chairman Vernon
41   Minton.
42
43   CHAIRMAN VERNON MINTON:    Let’s get the Reef Fish Committee to
44   the table, please.    I believe we’ve got everybody here today.
45   Before we get started, Wayne has an announcement for us.
46
47   EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR WAYNE SWINGLE: I would like to suggest that
48   the committee take a moment of silence for Lela Gray’s father,


                                     2
 1   who is in a hospital on a life support machine. Lela, for those
 2   of you in the audience who don’t know her, has been one of our
 3   secretaries for the last four or five years.
 4
 5   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Thank you, Wayne.
 6
 7   EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SWINGLE:   Can I make one other housecleaning
 8   --
 9
10   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Certainly, go ahead.
11
12   EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SWINGLE:   I guess Cathy Readinger is ill in
13   bed, at the recommendation of her physician, and so we have
14   decided to reschedule the Budget Committee at the January
15   meeting and that would mean that we would use that hour of time
16   for the Joint Reef Fish/Mackerel/Red Drum Committee and that
17   would have the effect of moving the Data Collection Committee to
18   a one hour later start time. That’s all on Tuesday afternoon.
19
20   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Thank you, Wayne. I guess the first thing is
21   we’ve got some new members here, Ms. Kay Williams, a new member
22   back again.   Welcome.  You can’t make any motions today, just
23   remember that, and a very new member, Mike Ray.   Mike, welcome
24   aboard and good luck.
25
26   MR. MICHAEL RAY:   Thank you, Vernon.
27
28                           ADOPTION OF AGENDA
29
30   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Folks, we have a suggested revised agenda, if
31   you’ll turn to Tab B, Number 1.   If you’ll look that over for
32   just a second and see if there’s any revisions or changes that
33   you would like to make.
34
35   MR. BOB GILL:   A question, Mr. Chairman.  It looks like under
36   the revised agenda the four hours of work that’s listed there,
37   to my mind, it seems problematic to get through.   What is the
38   plan if we do not?
39
40   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    We roll it.    We’ll do the best we can in
41   either case.    If we happen to get lucky and move forward a
42   little bit, we’ll take some of the items for tomorrow, unless
43   they’re real lengthy. Otherwise, we’ll go as long as we can and
44   then we’ll adjourn and start off first thing in the morning.
45
46   MR. STEVEN ATRAN: Just to the point about rolling things over,
47   I just wanted to point out that the last item of business
48   scheduled for today is the Ecosystem Modeling Presentation by


                                      3
 1   Carl Walters and I believe he’s only going to be here for today.
 2
 3   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Where is Carl at? Carl, are you going to be
 4   okay with where we’re set up now on the agenda? Steve had --
 5
 6   DR. CARL WALTERS:     If   you   had   an   opening   earlier,   I   would
 7   appreciate it.
 8
 9   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Thank you.     Is there a motion to adopt the
10   agenda then?
11
12   MS. BOBBI WALKER:   So moved.
13
14   CHAIRMAN MINTON: It’s moved by Ms. Walker and seconded. We’ve
15   got a motion on the floor to accept, but it hasn’t been voted
16   on.
17
18   DR. ROY CRABTREE:      If I could, Mr. Chairman, under Other
19   Business, I would like to have a discussion of the recreational
20   red snapper landings estimates through Wave 4 and issues related
21   to the recreational quota and overruns for this year.
22
23   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Any objection?  We’ll slip that under Other
24   Business then.    Anything else?   Any objection to adoption as
25   amended?   Hearing none, so ordered.    That then brings us to
26   British Columbia.
27
28   MR. ATRAN:   We have Approval of Minutes.
29
30                           APPROVAL OF MINUTES
31
32   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   We haven’t done the minutes yet.  I’m sorry.
33   I’m trying to get to British Columbia in a hurry. On Tab B-2,
34   we have the minutes for your review.   Are there any additions,
35   changes, corrections?
36
37   MR. GILL:   I’ll find it in a minute, but there’s a correction
38   and it was way the heck down here. Let me find it and I’ll get
39   right back to you, but there is a correction that needs to be
40   made.
41
42   CHAIRMAN MINTON: We’ll take a second. Go ahead. Can you find
43   it, Bob?   Tell you what, let’s just hold on this vote while
44   you’re looking for it and we’ll get started with the
45   presentation and when that’s over, we’ll come back and we’ll
46   actually approve the minutes. Is that okay with you? Is that
47   okay with the other members? Okay, thank you.
48


                                       4
 1   Now we have two guests here today, Mr. Wes Erickson and John
 2   Koolman from British Columbia.   They’re going to be talking
 3   about their IFQ program and I haven’t met you and so -- Which
 4   one are you? I’m sorry.
 5
 6   MR. WES ERICKSON:   I’m Wes Erickson.
 7
 8   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Wes, okay. The next guy must be John. Wes,
 9   thank you for coming down.     We really appreciate it and look
10   forward to your presentation and you have the stage.
11
12                       BRITISH COLUMBIA IFQ PROGRAM
13
14   MR. ERICKSON:   Thanks for having me and I just want to mention
15   right off the bat that I’m a commercial fisherman and I’m not a
16   presenter and so you’ll have to forgive me for my nervousness or
17   any mistakes I might make along the way.
18
19   I want to thank the Gulf Fishermen’s Association for inviting
20   John and myself down and I want to thank Environmental Defense
21   for helping to facilitate our coming down to speak to fishermen.
22   This was a fishermen’s initiative, like it usually is in
23   individual quota systems, and I’m pleased to see that they’re
24   looking into other fisheries.
25
26   I’m an active commercial fisherman.    My last day of commercial
                                 th
27   fishing was on September 13    of this year, 2007. I’m going to
28   tell you what it was like prior to quotas and what happened and
29   what it’s like now.
30
31   I’m not very familiar with the fishery here in the Gulf. I’ve
32   read about the various problems and proposals, but I know
33   reading about it is one thing and actually living it is another
34   thing.   It will be up to you to draw your own comparisons and
35   take what you want out of this presentation and leave the rest.
36   I’m certainly not here to tell anybody how to manage their
37   fishery.
38
39   Just off the bat, that’s a Pacific halibut.           That’s a
40   particularly big one we caught this year. That’s me and my son
41   standing there.    We’re primarily a longline fishery and we
42   encounter various species when we’re longlining.   This is the
43   coastline we fish on. We fish from the Washington border right
44   up to the Alaska border.
45
46   What it was like in 1990, we had six days of fishing. There was
47   435 vessels that participated in the fishery and several million
48   pounds of halibut were landed at once, a small amount of fresh


                                      5
 1   and the majority was frozen, because of the volume.
 2
 3   We had poor quality and very low prices. Buyers controlled the
 4   price, just because of the sheer volume that came in. There was
 5   only two or three buyers that had the infrastructure to handle
 6   that kind of volume.
 7
 8   Our non-target species were discarded, because we all thought we
 9   were going to fill up on halibut during an opening and we didn’t
10   want to take a chance and keep species other than halibut and so
11   we tossed them over the side.
12
13   We had fishermen lost at sea because of the competitive nature
14   of commercial fishing.   You go out in just about any weather.
15   In 1987, we lost seven vessels and several fishermen, a few of
16   which were my friends. We lost gear because of the competitive
17   nature and that gear continued to ghost fish.
18
19   There was lots of low-paying, short-term jobs. You can imagine
20   they would be short-term in six days.     We would under harvest
21   and we would over harvest on some openings.      Aquaculture was
22   actively developing a farmed halibut industry to fill the
23   marketplace with fresh fish when we weren’t fishing, which, as
24   you can imagine, was many days out of the year.
25
26   Our main motivator was safety.    This is a great slide, because
27   it shows the mentality we had. This vessel is actually sinking
28   and you can see the fishermen still trying to hold the fish
29   onboard the boat as it’s going down. That could have been me.
30
31   Marketing was a main concern. We had no control over price. We
32   just all ran into the buyers and dumped our fish off as quick as
33   possible, for whatever price they paid us.      Conservation, of
34   course, was a concern, because we were discarding non-target
35   species.
36
37   We considered many options. One was do nothing and one was gear
38   restrictions and another one was catch restrictions, time and
39   area restrictions, government-funded buyback programs, and
40   individual quota program.   We decided to study an individual
41   quota program.
42
43   As you can imagine, there was a lot of resistance to this. The
44   biggest resistance was the allocation formula. No one felt they
45   got allocated enough in an individual quota and as the formula
46   changed, as my father likes to say, it just shifted the smiles
47   around the room as you changed the formula.
48


                                     6
 1   Corporate concentration was a concern.      It would devastate
 2   coastal communities and that was a concern. Privatization of a
 3   public resource was thrown out there, that doctors, lawyers and
 4   environmental groups would purchase all the quota, and why
 5   should we change?   Why not let the sport sector change or the
 6   native sector? Why should we be the first ones to change? We
 7   thought that our behavior should be conditional on someone
 8   else’s behavior.
 9
10   I’m going to tell you about what it’s like now.   We actually
11   took a vote and we went to quotas and now we’re always within
12   the TAC. In fact, I don’t think we’ve ever been over the TAC.
13   We always come in just under it. Our catch is now landed over
14   nine months and it’s primarily a fresh market.
15
16   Our quality has improved substantially.    Our trips, which used
17   to be long, are now two to five days long and we’re getting
18   record prices. We’ve removed competition amongst fishermen and
19   now that the competition is gone, we are concentrating on
20   maximizing our return on the fish we have and getting the
21   fishermen individually trying to get the most money for our fish
22   and that leads right into buyer and seller independence.
23
24   We have choice now. There’s a lot more smaller buyers in the
25   markets and we have the option of marketing our own fish
26   independently.
27
28   One of the down sides is it is difficult for new entrants into
29   the fishery. It’s very expensive. You must own a license prior
30   to purchasing quota and you must own a vessel to put that
31   license on.
32
33   The initial cost to fishermen, before you actually go out
34   fishing, because we fund part of the management, it costs me
35   personally about $8,000 to leave the dock every year before I
36   land one fish, but the money I get for my fish now, compared to
37   before, far outweighs that initial cost.
38
39   We have a dockside monitoring program, which tags each fish
40   individually.  That’s led to a decreased number of violations,
41   because if you see a halibut in British Columbia that doesn’t
42   have one of these tags on the tail, that’s an illegal fish.
43   These tags are sequentially numbered and can be tracked back to
44   the fisherman and the vessel and the plant and the time it was
45   caught. It has also helped considerably in marketing our fish.
46
47   Individual accountability has led to individual responsibility.
48   We found in the old system that collective responsibility did


                                    7
 1   not work at all, because we had what we called the dirty dozen
 2   in our fishery.
 3
 4   A small number of participants made the entire fishery look very
 5   bad.   That’s not possible anymore, because if you want to be
 6   irresponsible,   you’re   individually  accountable   for   your
 7   irresponsible behavior.
 8
 9   What’s happened is those irresponsible individuals have either
10   cleaned up their act or exited the fishery. For the most part,
11   they exited the fishery and went to other fisheries that were
12   non-quota, so they could continue behaving irresponsibly.
13
14   The aquaculture industry halted development and that was huge,
15   because I’ll tell you in a minute what happened to our salmon
16   fishery.
17
18   Improved safety, that’s a big one.   Now it’s our choice to go
19   out in bad weather. If you want to be foolish and go fish bad
20   weather, fill your boots.   There’s less than half the pre-IFQ
21   participants.   I mentioned before there was 435, but we’ve
22   leveled off at about 200 to 220 participants and it’s been that
23   way for about six years now and so it’s kind of found its place
24   in the market.
25
26   We have the ability now to lease quota from other fishermen.
27   That can be a positive or a negative.    It’s controversial to
28   think of fishermen sitting at home and leasing quota out, but
29   then there’s fishermen out there fishing, and I’m one of them,
30   who actually like to lease quota.
31
32   If I’m out there fishing already and I’ve got bait left over and
33   I want to keep going a couple of extra days and make a little
34   bit more money, I can lease some fish. I don’t have to release
35   that fish and that fish would then be subject to a mortality on
36   it.
37
38   I now have the ability to retain previously discarded species.
39   This year, I kept all my skate, which was a species I never
40   would have kept before, and it paid for my fuel and my food.
41   There’s less jobs, but they’re better jobs.    I took the same
42   crew that my brother took this year. The crew makes more money,
43   but there’s less jobs for the crew. You wouldn’t even call them
44   jobs before anyway. In six days in a 365-day year, you couldn’t
45   call that a job.
46
47   The quota is all owned by commercial fishermen, as far as I
48   know.  The doctors, lawyers and environmental groups have not


                                    8
 1   stepped in and purchased all the quota.   Fishermen now co-manage
 2   and jointly fund the fishery.
 3
 4   Under a quota system, we’ve been able to fund the fishery and as
 5   a result, we’ve got a say in how the fishery is managed and
 6   we’re now in partnership with the Department of Fisheries and
 7   Oceans, unlike before, where we would just go head to head on
 8   any issue and we had a very volatile relationship with our
 9   managers prior to an individual quota system.
10
11   It allows for fishermen to contribute funding towards research.
12   Our government did not have enough money to do a stock
13   assessment on inshore rockfish and therefore, with lowering the
14   total allowable catch, the fishermen took the bull by the horns
15   and self-taxed ourselves and now we fund rockfish research, in
16   order to eventually get the total allowable catch up to where we
17   think it should be.
18
19   We’re about to receive Marine Stewardship Certification.     That
20   means we will have the ability to export into Europe now and
21   when Alaska got MSC Certification, the price of their fish
22   jumped immediately up between fifty and eighty cents a pound.
23
24   On Marine Stewardship Certification, this is the first time that
25   I’m aware of that the environmental community is behind a
26   commercial   fishing   organization  in   advocating  a   Marine
27   Stewardship Certification and we’re going for unconditional
28   certification, which is very rare.
29
30   I’m going to quickly tell you about what happened in our salmon
31   fishery. Some of you may have heard about the salmon fishery in
32   the Pacific Northwest.   It was once a great fishery.     It did
33   everything but go to an IQ. The people in place in the salmon
34   fishery, the managers that were in place, were philosophically
35   opposed to an individual quota system and so we tried everything
36   but.
37
38   We tried a government-funded buyback program.  It was going to
39   retire half of the effort and so it bought up half the licenses
40   and what it did was it retired the dormant licenses and it
41   bought up the low producers.
42
43   It bought up about half the licenses, but it only represented
44   about 15 percent of the effort. It was a considerable waste of
45   money, $400 million, and what happened was the fishermen just
46   got more competitive.      Time and area restrictions, area
47   licensing, bycatch reduction incentives, retraining programs,
48   fishermen would take hairdressing courses and get paid to do it


                                     9
 1   and then go right back fishing.
 2
 3   Government-issued colored pamphlets and videos, I could fill a
 4   room with that kind of stuff that was going to make me a better,
 5   more responsible fisherman.    I just threw it in a room and
 6   eventually threw it out.
 7
 8   Every one of these government initiatives made the fleet more
 9   lean and mean and competitive, exactly the opposite thing it was
10   supposed to do.      It created a culture of dependence and
11   entitlement.   This is the first year ever in history that the
12   salmon fishery that the Fraser River, which is one of the
13   greatest rivers in the world, never opened.
14
15   Everybody is waiting for the government to help out.   Now that
16   we’ve had government help once, everybody is waiting for that
17   government help again. What was once a great fishery is now an
18   occasional part-time job.    Salmon aquaculture is now firmly
19   established on our coastline and in our marketplace and every
20   downturn in the commercial salmon fishery led to an increase in
21   the sport sector. Nature does not like a vacuum.
22
23   What I would do differently if I was going to set up an
24   individual quota program again is I would set up a loan program
25   for displaced skippers, crew, and new entrants. I would be more
26   inclusive in the initial allocation and I would study other
27   quota systems prior to implementing one.
28
29   We didn’t have that opportunity, because it was sixteen years
30   ago and we were one of the first jurisdictions in North America
31   to do this, but it’s what you guys are doing right now and it’s
32   heartening to see that.
33
34   Leadership is and was important in us getting to where we are
35   today.   We could not have achieved this level of fisheries
36   management without leadership from industry, government, and the
37   public.   It was important for us to identify and support our
38   leaders in moving towards an individual quota system.
39
40   Due to the competitive nature of a commercial fishery, a delay
41   would have put fishermen’s lives at risk, because we would have
42   gone out and fished any weather. Every year that goes by leads
43   to a more competitive commercial fishery and commercial fishing
44   environment and we’ll go out in just about any weather and for
45   us to delay one more year could have meant loss of lives.
46
47   On that, I’m going to pass it over to my colleague, John
48   Koolman, who is going to continue on from where I left off.


                                       10
 1   Thank you all for your time.
 2
 3   MR. JOHN KOOLMAN:     Good afternoon.   I also am a commercial
 4   fisherman and not a presenter and so bear with me.     The first
 5   quota fishery started in 1990 and it started out as a two-year
 6   program and within that program, we weren’t allowed to transfer
 7   any fish.    You could only fish what your initial allocation
 8   would be and then it evolved into transferring blocks, where you
 9   can split your quota in half and move that off to another
10   license, if you wanted to.
11
12   That only dealt with the directed species. In trying to come to
13   grips with bycatch, they tried combining the halibut quota
14   fishery with a monthly trip limit fishery to try and get a
15   handle on the bycatch. It worked to some degree, but really and
16   truly, not very well.
17
18   The four other fisheries in groundfish were on trip limits or
19   monthly limits and those fisheries lasted anywhere from a matter
20   of weeks to a couple of months before all their quota was
21   caught, but then those fisheries -- The big problem was the
22   discards, trying to get a handle on it, and also, you couldn’t
23   verify the logbook catch data.     What one fleet was catching,
24   another one was discarding.      They were all single species
25   licenses.
26
27   The management areas that they were controlled under were
28   different.   They only had records of landed catch and the TAC
29   was being reduced because of the unknown discards.
30
31   The fishermen as a group were really getting tired of the
32   discards, but the way the regulations were, there was no way to
33   deal with it, other than to dump it and so there was a lot of
34   pressure from fishermen and other groups to change this and that
35   process started in 2003, where a committee was formed to try and
36   come to grips with that.
37
38   This committee was formed of two license holders from each
39   sector, plus an alternate.   At the end of three years, the
40   proposal that came out of that was that we would maintain the
41   six licenses that we had.
42
43   Nobody from industry wanted to go as far as tearing the license
44   system apart that we had and reallocating the fish and spreading
45   it out amongst the fishermen. The four remaining fisheries had
46   to go to quota. We had to have 100 percent monitoring for the
47   catch and the landings.
48


                                    11
 1   We would allow temporary transfers between sectors with willing
 2   participants, meaning that if you had quota on a license, you
 3   had the choice of whether you could fish it, you could leave it
 4   in the water, you could transfer it.    It was up to you as to
 5   what you did with it.
 6
 7   It was mandatory that rockfish be retained.      With rockfish,
 8   there’s 100 percent mortality attached to those fish and it’s a
 9   species of concern and it had to be delivered.        The other
10   species, if you chose to discard them, you had to pay a
11   mortality rate that was associated with each species and it was
12   just deducted from your quota holdings.
13
14   The species that we were dealing with, there was seventy-seven
15   species that had to be recorded in the logbook.      There were
16   sixteen of those that had annual TACs and if you caught it, you
17   had to have quota to account for it, because there was nineteen
18   other non-quota species that were going to be on trip limits
19   that varied from one sector to the other.
20
21   There was forty-two others that we didn’t encounter very many of
22   them, but we still had to record them in the logbook, but there
23   was no consequences attached to discarding them.        We have
24   standardized the management areas into the coast for all the
25   fisheries and that’s what it looks like now.
26
27   We have six different sectors that are trying to fish within
28   those areas. You can’t see it very well, but those are some of
29   our rockfish species.   At first glance, they sort of all look
30   the same and a lot of fishermen felt that too, that because they
31   were discarding them they -- Some of them really didn’t know one
32   from the other and that was part of the learning curve.
33
34   In this system, we couldn’t just allow unlimited bycatch. There
35   had to be some caps in place that controlled it, because there
36   just wasn’t enough to go around and we called them vessel caps.
37
38   At the start of the season, on all of the fisheries except
39   halibut, you could preload or arrange for your quota before the
40   season started, up to the vessel caps. In the halibut fishery,
41   that didn’t work.   If everybody maxed out their vessel caps,
42   again, there wasn’t enough fish to go around.    You could put
43   your non-directed catch onto your license, but in blocks of it
44   varied anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 pounds, depending on the
45   species.
46
47   If you went over your vessel caps, you were stopped from
48   fishing.  You weren’t allowed to go out anymore until you


                                    12
 1   cleaned it up and acquired the quota to cover the overage and
 2   then for the rest of the season, you weren’t allowed to catch
 3   that species anymore and how you did that was your problem. It
 4   was not allowed.
 5
 6   At the end of the season, if you had put more quota onto the
 7   license than what you had caught, there was a provision there to
 8   carry it into the next year and again, this varied between
 9   sectors and between species. It was anywhere from 10 percent to
10   30 percent that could be carried over from one year to the next.
11
12   If you actually caught more quota than what you held, again, you
13   could clean it up in that year or if you didn’t, it was taken
14   off the next year.   If you went over the over, you had to pay
15   double, whatever the overage was, in order to clean it up and be
16   able to go fishing again.
17
18   We’ve been working on this plan for three years to put it
19   together and still, when it was implemented in 2006, fishermen
20   couldn’t believe that we were actually going to go to this.
21   There was all kinds of concerns of actually being able to catch
22   their directed catch, the cost of obtaining and leasing, the
23   cost of monitoring, and where would they find the quota?
24
25   It’s hard to tell what percentage of fishermen were actually
26   totally against this program, but it was a small number, but
27   they put up a lot of resistance and even the ones that were in
28   favor of integrating these licenses were nervous about whether
29   it would work or not.
30
31   The new logbooks were way more detailed than anything we had
32   done before and the set locations and the times and the species
33   that you caught and discarded and cut up for bait, everything
34   was listed.
35
36   Everything that happened on the boat that you caught had to be
37   listed there and the big challenge for the fishermen at this
38   point was to develop a method for counting these fish, because
39   at the end of the trip, whatever was written in the logbook had
40   to match the pieces that came off the boat when you delivered,
41   as well as what the electronic monitoring equipment was
42   indicating that you had caught.
43
44   It was a challenge, because in the past, the logbooks were more
45   a matter of estimating catch and actually, the logbooks were
46   more an indication of what you could make fit for what you were
47   landing on a particular trip.    The two didn’t necessarily go
48   together.


                                    13
 1
 2   Electronic equipment for monitoring, there was a lot of nervous
 3   around it as to how reliable it was going to be, because part of
 4   the rules stated that if the monitoring equipment stopped
 5   working that you had to come in. You were allowed to haul your
 6   gear, but the trip was over. That part of it didn’t end up to
 7   be very much of a problem.
 8
 9   The validation, dockside validation, had to change, because now
10   we were counting pieces as well as weight. It took a little bit
11   longer and it was part of the evolution.
12
13   The audit reports on the monitoring, within seven days        of
14   landing, you got a report back on how well you had filled    out
15   your logbook.   There was a comparison between the logbook   and
16   what you had actually landed and after the catch video       was
17   reviewed, there was a report on how well your discards in    the
18   logbook matched up with what the video equipment had seen.
19
20   Fishermen had a lot of trouble understanding the reports to
21   start with and there was disbelief from the fishermen that they
22   could be that far out on their piece counts, because for the
23   most part, they thought they were trying.
24
25   The cons on this program was the monitoring costs. There was a
26   lot of unknowns at the beginning of this process as to what
27   these costs were actually going to be and as of today, for my
28   trips, the costs on the monitoring is around $200 a day, or
29   twelve cents a pound, is the cost, which is a little bit higher
30   than what our estimates were at the time, but that’s what it is.
31
32   The costs of acquiring quota, there was a lot of fear with this,
33   because the fear was what we call armchair-fishermen, the
34   fishermen that don’t really want to go fishing anymore, but they
35   lease our their quota and they lease it for as much as they can
36   get.
37
38   On average, it works out to about 12 percent of the landed
39   value, for the majority of the species.  For halibut, it’s up
40   around 75 percent of the landed value and for sablefish, it’s
41   about half.
42
43   The increased paperwork, there’s a more detailed logbook and the
44   quota transfers, the audit reports.    This was all new to the
45   fishermen and it all had to be dealt with.     When the initial
46   quotas were attached to the licenses, they were spread over the
47   seven areas that the coast was divided into. The fishermen had
48   to learn how to trade their fish around to get the fish into an


                                    14
 1   area where they wanted to fish.
 2
 3   The fishermen were more responsible for the logbook accuracy.
 4   In order to get the monitoring costs down, we had to put the
 5   onus on the fishermen to keep an accurate logbook.     There was
 6   another option, and it’s still available to fishermen, of they
 7   can take an observer, but the cost there is $450 a day, compared
 8   to the $200 if he does it himself.
 9
10   Having to count the fish slows down the operation on the deck
11   and so the high producers were complaining that it was slowing
12   things down too much and that they weren’t getting the
13   production that they were hoping to get.  By learning to count
14   the fish better, I think for the most part that problem has
15   probably gone away, but anyway --
16
17   For the first time, we have individual accountability for the
18   catch.   Everybody is responsible for themselves and it allows
19   for flexibility for individual fishermen.
20
21   The way it was in the past, two or three openings would happen
22   all on the same day and you had to make a decision as to what
23   you wanted to fish and if -- You made a decision that you were
24   going to fish for lingcod, but by the time you got that done,
25   then rockfish or one of the other fisheries would have been done
26   and finished and you didn’t get an opportunity to participate
27   there. You had a choice, one of two or three.
28
29   By going to the quotas, the fishermen now are participating in
30   all the fisheries, if they have a will. By combining one or two
31   of the fisheries into one, it makes for a more economic fishery.
32   You’ve got better catch information and TACs are never exceeded
33   and that includes the landed and the discards and you got
34   accounted for all the catch.
35
36   We’re a year-and-a-half through this three-year pilot and it’s
37   still evolving and it’s still changing.       We’re tweaking the
38   rules as we go and so it’s becoming more and more streamlined.
39   Fishermen are learning how to deal with the program and they’re
40   still making money, some more than before the program.
41
42   There’s still a handful that don’t want it to change and they’re
43   still fighting this whole program, but on the whole, it appears
44   to be working. That’s it and thank you.
45
46   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Thank you both very much for coming down here.
47   If you both would come back up to the mic, I think we have some
48   questions and we’re going to take some of those.       It’s my


                                       15
 1   understanding that both of you will be here this afternoon or
 2   this evening, after this session is over with, and so we’ll get
 3   some individual questions, but I know there’s some folks that
 4   really would like to ask a few questions.        We’re going to
 5   entertain a few, but we can’t get to everybody, but do come back
 6   this afternoon. With that, are there questions?
 7
 8   MS. WALKER:    Can you tell me what percent of the commercial
 9   halibut quota is exported?
10
11   MR. ERICKSON:    I’m   guessing   about   90   percent   and   it’s   all
12   exported down here.
13
14   MS. WALKER:     In our fisheries, especially our snapper and
15   grouper fishery, they’re domestically sold, here in the United
16   States, and we, of course, can’t, unfortunately, control the low
17   cost of imports and our TACs aren’t really large enough for us
18   to export fish either.    How would these circumstances compare
19   with yours economically?
20
21   MR. KOOLMAN: In our lingcod fishery and live rockfish fishery,
22   they are domestic markets, local markets.      The problem they
23   faced before was that it -- The lingcod fishery at one time
24   lasted three weeks. They were trying to land I don’t know how
25   many hundreds of thousands of pounds in that three-week period
26   and the local markets just couldn’t accept it.
27
28   Now, it’s a nine-month fishery. The local markets have expanded
29   because it’s almost year-round. The price has gone from -- Two
30   years ago, before integration, live lingcod were selling for a
31   dollar or a dollar-and-a-half and now it’s at $2.60.         The
32   rockfish market has gone from around a $5.00 average on the cost
33   for the price to around $11.00 a pound.
34
35   MS. WALKER:    Do you have imports of these live lingcod and
36   rockfish that your fishermen are having to compete with?
37
38   MR. ERICKSON:   We have.   Absolutely we have substitutes, like
39   tilapia, the same thing I’ve seen in the markets here, catfish,
40   all that stuff.     We’ve got whitefish substitutes for our
41   halibut.
42
43   What happened when we went to an individual quota system and
44   improved our quality was what was once a fish-and-chip fish
45   became a white-tablecloth fish. Prior to that, it was probably
46   70 percent exported and the rest was used domestically.     We
47   became a sought-after product and more export oriented and
48   therefore, getting a far higher price to the commercial


                                       16
 1   fishermen.
 2
 3   MS. WALKER:   Okay, but you didn’t have those same species like
 4   we do with red snapper to compete with.
 5
 6   MR. ERICKSON: Actually, we did. We had all those species.         The
 7   same fish I’m seeing in the supermarket here, the same            red
 8   snapper we got --
 9
10   MS. WALKER: I’m sorry, but you misunderstood my question. Live
11   lingcod and rockfish, did you have imports of those with your
12   domestic fishery?  I see one of the gentlemen shaking his head
13   no.
14
15   The other thing I was interested in was when I read this paper,
16   it said that only 80 percent of the allowable TAC was allocated
17   to the fishermen and 20 percent went to a non-profit groundfish
18   development authority. Can you tell us a little about that?
19
20   MR. ERICKSON:   That’s in the trawl fishery.   That’s not ours.
21
22   MR. KOOLMAN: Except for one fishery, the dogfish shark fishery,
23   had a similar plan, but it was one of seven.
24
25   MS. WALKER:   I have just two more questions. One, the picture
26   that you showed of the boat that was sinking, I find that very
27   hard to believe that anyone is going to be out there worried
28   about fish when the boat is sinking. Who took the picture and
29   was that possibly just a rogue wave that hit that vessel?
30
31   MR. ERICKSON: On the slide, you can see there was $10,000 worth
32   of catch that had to be thrown overboard in order to save that
33   vessel.   That was a true photograph.  It’s from the Sea Grant
34   Program and it’s documented.
35
36   MS. WALKER:   Sea Grant was there taking the pictures then?
37
38   MR. ERICKSON: No, the skipper took the picture, but it’s a book
39   put out by Sea Grant.
40
41   MS. WALKER: I have one last question. Do you have to lease the
42   shares before you harvest?    In other words, when you go out
43   there if you run up on fish and you catch 2,000 pounds, can you
44   easily find the shares or the coupons to be able to buy them
45   before you land them?
46
47   MR. KOOLMAN:  I apologize that I missed that.  I actually was
48   going to speak on it.   You don’t have to -- On your directed


                                     17
 1   species, you have to have at least one pound of that species on
 2   your license to be able to go fishing. As far as a non-directed
 3   catch, as long as you’re not in a deficit situation, like you
 4   haven’t already caught more than what you have on your license,
 5   you can go fishing.
 6
 7   If you go out and you make a trip and you come back in and
 8   you’re over your quota holdings, you have one trip to make it
 9   up. You can go back out fishing again, but by the time you land
10   the second trip, you had to have cleaned up the first one.
11   Otherwise, you’re stopped.
12
13   MR. CORKY PERRET:   Thank you, gentlemen, for being here.    Mr.
14   Erickson, if I may -- Both of you did a very fine job, whether
15   you were nervous or not. It was very informative. One of the
16   bullets that you had was buyers control the price and then after
17   your system was implemented, you had a bullet of buyer
18   independence.
19
20   Well, we all know that   in fishing and agriculture that products
21   are dumped because the   harvesters are complaining about the low
22   prices.    Other than    more smaller independent buyers after
23   implementation of your   program, how do you get away from buyers
24   controlling price?
25
26   MR. ERICKSON:   I guess to some degree, buyers still do control
27   the price, but we work with the buyers now and we time when we
28   go out. It’s nine months now as opposed to six days. The buyer
29   will tell us to wait a week or Thanksgiving is coming up and we
30   choose not to fish.
31
32   Myself too, I sell directly to some restaurants.   I take some
33   3,000 pounds at a time, sometimes, and sell directly to the
34   public after purchasing a fish vending license for a couple of
35   dollars a pound more.    There’s lots of ways to get a higher
36   price for your fish.
37
38   I bring some halibut in live now and sell it to the Chinese
39   market and get a premium price for that.    A rockfish dead is
40   worth about $2.00 a pound. If I can bring it in live and take
41   good care of it, it’s worth $11.00 a pound. It’s given us a lot
42   of choice.
43
44   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Other questions?
45
46   MR. GILL: I have a couple of questions. Would you all discuss
47   -- First of all, thank you for coming.     I find this very
48   informative and helpful to try and figure out what we’re


                                     18
 1   supposed to do, but would you all discuss what you see as the
 2   pros and cons of the lease option on the IFQ side?
 3
 4   One of the comments that’s been made relative to it is that
 5   oftentimes a smaller fisherman may well take the financial
 6   incentive and opt out and to the detriment of the folks that’s
 7   he with, but would you all discuss how you evolved on the pros
 8   and cons on that?
 9
10   MR. ERICKSON:   I’ll just make a quick comment.   The pros and
11   cons depends on the price at the time.         If the armchair
12   fisherman is getting a real high price, then the lessee doesn’t
13   like it and if the lessee is getting a real good price for his
14   fish, as opposed to the armchair fisherman, then the armchair
15   fisherman doesn’t like it.
16
17   It goes up and down. It’s given us the ability to be flexible
18   in our fishery. When we go out on a trip targeting one species
19   and end up encountering another one, we now have the ability to
20   retain that species and lease fish to cover it off. We now keep
21   everything we catch and stay within our TACs.    There’s no more
22   discards and if we do discard, we pay for the mortality on that
23   discard.
24
25   MR. GILL:     I have a follow-on question.       The electronic
26   monitoring is principally cameras, as I understand it, and from
27   the costs you indicated, relative to our fisheries, it may be
28   problematic to absorb on a per-trip basis.
29
30   It would also seem that they’re high enough that the impact is
31   much stronger on the smaller vessels, the smaller producers, to
32   the point of which it would drive them away from the fishery so
33   that you would be sliding towards larger vessels and larger
34   producers and eliminating the smaller producers.   Is that the
35   case? If so, how do you address that?
36
37   MR. KOOLMAN: Initially, a few fishermen got out of it, because
38   of those concerns and also because they were afraid of the
39   program and they didn’t know whether -- They were sure that they
40   couldn’t stay within their bycatch caps.
41
42   There was all kinds of reasons for it, but generally the cost of
43   the monitoring has been picked up by the increased value of the
44   landings, because you can’t discard anymore or there’s some
45   species you can’t discard and other ones and you have the choice
46   of whether you discard it or land it.
47
48   By delivering those fish that you couldn’t before, it more than


                                    19
 1   offsets our monitoring costs and the -- The cost of the
 2   monitoring is -- It’s going to be based on how complicated your
 3   system is or what you actually want to monitor.
 4
 5   We are trying to monitor discards or total catch and to do that,
 6   it involves reviewing 10 percent of the video data.      There’s
 7   some -- There could be as many as fifty tests within the audit
 8   as to whether or not you pass or fail and the consequences that
 9   are attached to that fail. It all depends on what you’re trying
10   to monitor.
11
12   I was talking to a fellow from I think it was Australia and they
13   wanted a monitoring program, but all they wanted to do was
14   monitor the turtle catch and they weren’t interested in the rest
15   and so their monitoring costs were way down.     That’s just the
16   other end of the scale of where I’m at. It all depends on how
17   you design your program.
18
19   The fixed costs are basically, in round numbers, $40.00 a day to
20   have the equipment aboard. Everything else beyond that is what
21   you want to build into it.
22
23   MR. ROBIN RIECHERS:   Thank you all for being here as well and
24   I’m going to follow up along the same lines that Bob asked you
25   the question regarding cost.   You said $200 per day or twelve-
26   cents a pound. What is your relative poundage on a day’s catch
27   and with that question, I’m assuming you’re about average in
28   your fleet as far as that twelve-cents a pound goes or is that
29   an overall average?    Would you like to clarify that just a
30   little bit?
31
32   MR. KOOLMAN:   That was based on my landings during the halibut
33   fishery.    You’re right, that 12,000 pounds would have been
34   average and you had one trip that was less than that and another
35   trip that was more, but it -- The day rate and the poundage rate
36   is directly related to production.
37
38   If I were to land 50,000 pounds on a trip instead of 12,000,
39   then the poundage rate would go way down. If I could catch it
40   in less time, then the day rate would go down and so it’s all a
41   balancing act.  It’s really hard to put any numbers around it,
42   because on some of the fisheries, like the live rockfish
43   fishery, it’s a relatively low production, but it’s a really
44   high value. One balances the other out.
45
46   On the other end of the scale, in our dogfish or shark fishery,
47   the value of the fish isn’t very high, but they’re landing a lot
48   of volume. Again, it balances. Like I said, it’s hard to come


                                    20
 1   up with an exact cost.
 2
 3   DR. BOB SHIPP: I’m curious about rockfish. As I understand it,
 4   there are about fifty or sixty species of rockfish. Do you all
 5   consider them as a single unit and do some species bring a
 6   higher price than others?
 7
 8   MR. KOOLMAN: All the species are considered separate. Some of
 9   them are considered a coast-wide stock, but it’s still broken
10   into the different areas or managed in different areas and the
11   value between them varies anywhere between forty-cents and
12   $11.00 and just about everything in between.
13
14   MS. JULIE MORRIS:   Thank you both for being here today.   Wes,
15   you had a slide that had sort of three things that you would
16   recommend, based on your experience, and one was a loan program
17   and the other was be more inclusive in initial allocation and I
18   missed the third, but could you talk about those three things a
19   bit more?
20
21   MR. ERICKSON:   My memory is not very good and I can’t remember
22   the third either, but more inclusive means -- We had a minimum
23   amount of fish to qualify and the lingcod fishery, when they
24   went to quota, were very inclusive and some guys ended up with
25   fifty pounds of quota, but as a result, there was virtually no
26   appeals. Everybody was included. Maybe you didn’t end up with
27   much fish, but at least you were given credit for the fish that
28   you had caught in the past.
29
30   Those individuals probably won’t go fishing with fifty pounds,
31   but they have the ability to sell or lease and they’re given
32   some recognition for the participation they had in the fishery.
33
34   A loans program -- I apologize, but at the beginning of my
35   presentation, I should have introduced Lara Hutton, we have in
36   the   audience,  and  she’s  with   the  International Halibut
37   Commission and very familiar with the fishery up in Alaska and
38   Alaska looked at our system and they couldn’t go to a quota
39   program fast enough in halibut once they saw us in a quota
40   program, because of the price difference and the safety
41   concerns.
42
43   I believe Alaska has a loans program in place to help new
44   entrants enter the fishery and that could also be in place to
45   help anybody who feels displaced and wants to enter into the
46   fishery.
47
48   Like I mentioned before, it’s very expensive for anybody to get


                                   21
 1   into the halibut fishery now, because it’s very high value and
 2   it’s a very well managed fishery and people want to be halibut
 3   fishermen.   If you want to quiz Lara about the Alaska model,
 4   she’ll be available to take questions.
 5
 6   MS. MORRIS: A second question on a different topic is that how
 7   is this penalty for discarded fish calculated?   How does that
 8   all work?   It sounds like you can both keep discarded fish --
 9   Instead of discarding, you can keep it and if you decide to
10   discard it, there’s a penalty.    Could you give us a little
11   insight into how that all works?
12
13   MR. KOOLMAN:   It started with for the discards, the fish we’re
14   allowed to discard, we had to establish an average weight.
15
16   MS. MORRIS:   An average weight?
17
18   MR. KOOLMAN:   An average weight per species and then with the
19   help of science, and there isn’t a lot of information out there
20   about mortality rates, we established what the mortality rate of
21   a discard is.
22
23   Like with halibut, it’s 16 percent. If you catch a halibut and
24   bring it to the surface and let it go again, 16 percent are
25   going to die. With lingcod, it’s 4 percent and dogfish, it’s 2.
26   Sablefish, I think it’s 7 or 8 percent.
27
28   By combining the two -- If you discarded a fish, you take the
29   weight and divide it by the mortality and that’s what gets
30   deducted off your quota.
31
32   MS. MORRIS:   It’s not a cash thing, but it’s quota.
33
34   MR. KOOLMAN: It’s quota. It ends up cash out of your pocket at
35   the end of the day, because you have to have your quota to cover
36   it off.
37
38   MR. ERICKSON: I might add to that that this is the first time
39   in the world in a complete groundfish fishery that all catch is
40   accounted for.   The scientists have to reconsider how they do
41   stock assessment, because prior to this, a catch mortality in
42   another sector was just factored into natural mortality.    The
43   scientists are real excited about this.
44
45   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Finally, Mr. Gill.
46
47   MR. GILL:   I have two quick questions.   One is who funds the
48   loan program, in your estimation? Two, I wanted to confirm that


                                        22
 1   you all will be available after this meeting for discussion.    I
 2   have a bunch more questions I would like to ask you all.
 3
 4   MR. KOOLMAN:    I didn’t get the first question.
 5
 6   MR. GILL: Who do you envision would fund the loan program that
 7   Wes indicated would be something he would change?
 8
 9   MR. ERICKSON: Like I say, I would encourage you to talk to Lara
10   about what Alaska does. I believe what’s in place is government
11   just basically helps individuals to secure loans.      They have
12   similar sort of things for small businesses in my jurisdiction
13   and I don’t know if you have something similar here too, if
14   somebody wants to start a small business that the government
15   helps out a little bit.    We don’t have anything like that in
16   place in commercial fishing, but something along those lines.
17
18   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Again, gentlemen, thank you very much for
19   coming all the way down. We certainly appreciate it and we look
20   forward to seeing you this evening.
21
22   MR. ERICKSON:   Thank you and we will be around all evening.
23
24   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   You’ll save some money that way.    Now, we’ll
25   go back to Mr. Gill and the minutes.
26
27   MR. GILL: I did find it and it’s page 27, the last line of the
28   fourth paragraph, the number should be “0.86” rather than “0.6”
29   and it’s line 26.
30
31   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Anything else?
32
33   MS. WALKER: Mr. Chairman, we have a Tab B, Number 3 and I read
34   it, but who sent it to the council and if we have questions, who
35   do we direct them to on this study that was done on the
36   groundfish?
37
38   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Staff, can you help me out?
39
40   DR. ASSANE DIAGNE:    I think that was just supporting material
41   for this IFQ discussion, if some of the council members wanted
42   to see that document and that’s all.
43
44   MS. WALKER: Assane, who would we send questions to, the writers
45   of the document, I guess?
46
47   DR. DIAGNE:   I didn’t imply that, but given that we will be
48   responsible for the IFQ amendment, you could send it to us. You


                                      23
 1   can send it to me.
 2
 3   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   With those changes to the minutes, is there
 4   any objection to adopting the minutes?         Hearing none, so
 5   ordered.   That takes us to Item IV, which works in very well,
 6   because a lot of the discussion we had earlier is listed in this
 7   document. If you’ll turn to Tab B, Number 4, the first one is
 8   Summaries of Scoping Meetings, which is Tab B, Number 5.
 9
10                   SCOPING DOCUMENT ON AMENDMENT 29
11
12   DR. DIAGNE:    We will just give you a quick summary of the
13   scoping comments that we received for Amendment 29. The scoping
14   hearings were conducted at the same time as we were having
15   public hearings for Amendment 30A.
16
17   What I want to do is just summarize the comments that we’ve
18   received from the commercial sector, do the same thing for the
19   recreational sector and, finally, say a word about the comments
20   we got from environmental organizations.
21
22   Let me start with the commercial sector.       The majority of
23   commercial fishermen who spoke at these public scoping meetings
24   support the IFQ program and some of the reasons that they’ve
25   given include the fact that they think that a grouper IFQ
26   program will allow them to become more professional as a
27   fishery.
28
29   It will also allow them to reduce bycatch. Third, it will give
30   them an opportunity to trade shares with the participants in the
31   red snapper IFQ program. One of their recommendations was that
32   this program should be implemented as soon as possible,
33   basically for the council to see about having this program
34   implemented as fast as it could.
35
36   The scoping document included five actions.      The other four
37   actions, the buyback or buyout program, the elimination of
38   latent permits, endorsement programs and effort-based quotas,
39   were not supported, in general.   In fact, for several of these
40   actions, participants suggested that they should be moved to the
41   Considered but Rejected section.
42
43   The other comments that they made, some participants indicated
44   that they were strongly in favor of reducing or eliminating the
45   size limits and maybe, if needed, extending the closed season to
46   give more protection to the spawners and that is if there is no
47   IFQ and that’s all.
48


                                    24
 1   The comments that we’ve gathered in the recreational sector,
 2   most participants who spoke were in strong opposition to an IFQ
 3   program and the reasons that were given included a perception
 4   that there is a lack of enforcement on the ground.
 5
 6   Some were opposed to the fact that an IFQ would -- I put   this in
 7   quotes, but “privatize” a public resource. Number three    is that
 8   with an IFQ program, the consolidation would basically     lead to
 9   creation of monopolies, meaning consolidation of shares    in very
10   few hands.
11
12   Some   recreational  participants   who   expressed  support or
13   basically were not opposed to the program indicated that they
14   would appreciate the opportunity to buy shares, to participate
15   basically in the trading of shares, and indicated that in the
16   red snapper program, let’s say five years after implementation,
17   those shares will be available for everybody to buy.
18
19   Other participants also mentioned that perhaps the recreational
20   sector as a whole could participate in effort reduction by
21   buying latent permits and that would help the fishery. That was
22   a suggestion and finally, environmental organizations, those who
23   spoke at the scoping hearings, indicated that they support an
24   IFQ program, provided that the program was well designed and
25   that,   of  course,   such  a   design  accounted   for  bycatch
26   consideration and so forth. Mr. Chairman, that is a summary of
27   the comments we received during scoping of Amendment 29. Thank
28   you.
29
30   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Thank you, Assane.    Good job.   Are there
31   questions for Assane?    Thank you.    Reef Fish Advisory Panel
32   Recommendations, Tab B, Number 6.
33
34   MR. STU KENNEDY:     Tab B-6 on page 11, to add just a few
35   comments. At first, they were -- After they started to discuss
36   this and went over some of the issues and some of the actions,
37   they considered removing Action 5.   However, in the end -- The
38   AP did this to several other pieces of amendments as well, but
39   they asked to review this thing again after they found out what
40   the Grouper IFQ AP said about it.
41
42   They essentially tabled that first motion, which was to remove
43   one of the action items. However, at the end of the meeting --
44   If you look at the bottom of page 11, they reopened the topic of
45   IFQs and they talked about cumulative effects of the IFQs across
46   the entire Gulf of Mexico and felt that the impacts discussion
47   that we normally have in one of these amendments might not be
48   enough, so they passed a motion asking that a much more


                                    25
 1   extensive  cumulative  effects  analysis  be   done for   this
 2   amendment. At the top of page 12 is the motion. That concludes
 3   my --
 4
 5   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Questions for Stu?
 6
 7   MS. MORRIS: Stu, can you give us any insight into what concerns
 8   about cumulative effects or what cumulative effects the AP was
 9   concerned about?
10
11   MR. KENNEDY: I’m not sure that I can give you all the pieces of
12   it.   I think that there was discussion about it, a lot of
13   problems or potential issues with it that were far and above
14   looking at just grouper IFQ, and they felt that it would roll
15   over into other species and other fisheries, all sorts of
16   things.
17
18   I didn’t cover in the summary all of their comments. They’ll be
19   in the minutes when they come out, but it was basically that it
20   needed to be a much more extensive cumulative effects analysis
21   across the entire Gulf across all fisheries.
22
23   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Other questions?
24
25   DR. CRABTREE: Assane, in the discussions in the development of
26   the potential program for the grouper IFQ, I saw where they had
27   a recommendation there about what constitutes substantially
28   participated. It was something like an average of 4,000 pounds
29   per year and is that correct?
30
31   DR. DIAGNE:   Yes, that’s correct.
32
33   DR. CRABTREE:   When they were considering that, were they only
34   considering that in the context of the referendum?
35
36   DR. DIAGNE:     Yes, that was just for participation in the
37   referendum, as mentioned in the Act, but for as far as the
38   initial share, everybody would receive their share.
39
40   DR. CRABTREE: If you look in the Magnuson Act under some of the
41   new sections, on the section under allocation -- If you have a
42   copy of the blue book, that’s on page 83.          It says: “In
43   developing limited access privilege programs to harvest fish
44   that a council or the Secretary shall” -- Then if you go down to
45   Number (e), which is on the top of page 84, it says: “Authorize
46   limited access privilege to harvest fish to be held, acquired,
47   used by, or issued under the system to persons who substantially
48   participate in the fishery, including in a specific sector of


                                     26
 1   such fishery as specified by the council.”
 2
 3   Maybe Mike would want to comment, but it appears to me that one
 4   of the revisions of the Act is limiting people who can
 5   participate in the IFQ program to those who have substantially
 6   participated in the fishery. Has that been discussed?
 7
 8   MR. MICHAEL MCLEMORE: It hasn’t been discussed that I know of,
 9   but if you read the preceding provisions under 5 -- The section
10   in the Act is 303A(c) (5) (a) through (e), but there’s a lot of
11   discussion about considering fair and equitable in terms of
12   these different sectors, harvesting and processing sectors and
13   investments and dependence on a fishery and fishing communities.
14   It looks like it’s broader than just fishermen as well, but they
15   have specified who is supposed to be authorized to participate
16   in the limited access privilege program.
17
18   DR. DIAGNE:    Also, when the AP made this recommendation and
19   selected 4,000 pounds, they didn’t have really access to the
20   Reauthorized Magnuson and so perhaps this is something that they
21   will reconsider at a later meeting.
22
23   MR. PERRET: Roy, with what you bring up, since Florida has had
24   a trip ticket program for X number of years, should we or would
25   we not know -- I’m not trying to find out what each individual
26   fisherman harvests in a year’s period of time, but couldn’t that
27   data be broken down to those that caught zero to 5,000 pounds,
28   5,000 to 15,000, 15,000 to --
29
30   I know we’ve been able to do it in some other fisheries, but
31   don’t we have that information or shouldn’t we have that
32   information?
33
34   DR. CRABTREE: Yes, but what we’ve normally used in IFQ programs
35   is based on the logbooks and not the trip tickets and we have
36   gone through -- Recall that we tallied the votes up for a
37   segment of the grouper industry when they did the buyback
38   referendum and so we did look back and have done that.
39
40   We have not done that with the trip ticket system, although we
41   did, when we did the rock shrimp limited entry program in the
42   South Atlantic, we used trip tickets, but we ran into problems
43   there, because some fishermen had landings that nobody filed a
44   trip ticket on and so that ran into some difficulties.
45
46   MR. PERRET:  Have we tried to compare trip ticket information
47   with the logbook and see if indeed you’re getting similar
48   information?


                                    27
 1
 2   DR. CRABTREE: Not in this specific context, but we have, on any
 3   number of occasions, looked at logbook reported landings and
 4   trip ticket reported landings and they defer to varying degrees.
 5
 6   MR. RIECHERS:   I’m not on your committee, but I want to echo
 7   Assane’s viewpoint that if you all remember, we sent this to
 8   scoping probably at a point where the Magnuson criteria, the new
 9   Magnuson-Stevens, hadn’t been reauthorized.
10
11   It basically left that question about         substantially fished
12   criterion that’s on page 14 and we kind        of basically put --
13   That’s what our AP had suggested, but         we were looking for
14   feedback in the scoping document.     We’ve    probably gotten some
15   feedback and we’ve gotten some AP feedback.
16
17   They may want to revisit that and we will also probably get some
18   guidance from NMFS on how “substantially” might be defined when
19   they come out with their guidance.        I think we have some
20   forthcoming things that allows us to keep having this discussion
21   without getting too hung up on the poundage that’s been chosen.
22
23   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Actually, Mr. Chair, you’re ex-officio on all
24   committees.   Any other questions? Next is Item IV(c), Ad Hoc
25   Grouper IFQ Recommendations.
26
27   DR. DIAGNE:     I’ll try to provide a quick summary of the
28   recommendations of the AP. Basically, at their meeting they did
29   two things.   First, they looked at the scoping documents and
30   made some recommendations and second, they revisited some of the
31   recommendations that were presented before the council, I think
32   two or three council meetings ago.      I will start first with
33   their motions and comments on the scoping document.
34
35   The first thing they did was to strongly suggest and actually,
36   it’s in the form of a motion, that Action 5, the effort-based
37   quota, be moved to the Considered but Rejected category and that
38   motion passed.
39
40   For the four remaining options, the IFQ and the three others,
41   they passed a motion indicating that the development and
42   implementation of an IFQ program would be their preferred course
43   of action and it’s in the form of a motion.
44
45   The other three actions, latent permit elimination, endorsement,
46   and buyout programs, were considered unfavorable options and
47   those are the words that they used in their motion, to consider
48   these as unfavorable actions.


                                    28
 1
 2   One panel member inquired about status quo and it was indicated
 3   to him that status quo, by default, was always an option,
 4   because that was the benchmark that we use for comparison, but
 5   they went ahead and passed a motion to make sure that it would
 6   be there.
 7
 8   The panel felt that a loan program would be really important in
 9   the success of the future IFQ plan and so they expressed their
10   concerns in the form of a motion and the motion reads: That the
11   AP recommends a government guaranteed loan program for IFQ
12   financing using IFQs as collateral. The motion passed.
13
14   One idea that they started discussing towards the end of the
15   meeting was to look at optional participation in an IFQ program,
16   basically the commercial portion of -- The commercial quota
17   would be split in two parts, one part for those who wanted to
18   participate in an IFQ and the other part left for those who felt
19   that they wanted to fish under the status quo, under the current
20   regulation.
21
22   That is an idea that they started discussing at the very end of
23   the meeting and it was important for us to put it in the
24   recommendation for the council to share.
25
26   After this, they looked at modifications concerning the
27   recommendations that they presented before the council, and I
28   believe it was at the Destin meeting, and they offered several
29   motions.
30
31   I skipped one thing.   They requested that perhaps their charge
32   be amended and the motion reads as follows: The panel requests
33   that the council identify the panel’s charge as to develop IFQs
34   including tilefish and that the council develop separate TACs
35   for gray and golden tilefish. That motion passed.
36
37   Now on to the changes in the preferred alternatives that were
38   presented before the council at the Destin meeting.         They
39   basically revisited the definition of the multispecies, let’s
40   say the split between deep and shallow-water, and that is in the
41   document.     They revisited the restrictions in terms of
42   ownership, what maximum amount of shares should be allowed to an
43   individual.
44
45   They re-discussed initial apportionment and here, if you look at
46   the document, everywhere there is 2004, or at least in several
47   spots, there is an asterisk.    That asterisk is just to remind
48   panel members that there is a control date and that control date


                                    29
 1   was set for October 15, 2004.   Basically, if we were to count
 2   landings from 1999 to 2004, 2004 would have to stop at October
 3   15th.
 4
 5   Some motions simply reworded alternatives that are in the
 6   documents containing their recommendations, such as the motion
 7   concerning the appeals process.
 8
 9   They also discussed the flexibility measures and requested that
10   as soon as possible that we provide a formula allowing them to
11   compute, or at least have a very good idea, about their
12   allocation, the share they would receive.
13
14   Sarah DeVido from NMFS has started already putting that together
15   and she will supply shortly the denominator, so each fisherman
16   will be able to take his or her catch history and plug it in and
17   have an idea. That’s just an idea and not to suggest that that
18   is the final allocation, but just an idea concerning how much
19   they will get.      Finally, they would want to revisit the
20   flexibility measures down the line when we will have an
21   opportunity to do more work.
22
23   On an unrelated note, the AP felt that it had to share its
24   opinion concerning Amendment 30B and they passed the following
25   motion: The panel states that in Amendment 30B, Action 5, Red
26   and Gag Grouper Allocations, the panel recommends Alternative 3,
27   which would set allocations based on all available years of
28   data.    That motion also passed.       That concludes the AP
29   recommendations. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
30
31   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Thank you, Assane.   Are there questions?
32
33   MR. PERRET:   Assane, they passed a lot of motions.    I have to
34   assume there was probably a great deal of discussion on some and
35   probably a lot more on some than others, but the make-up of the
36   committee, were these unanimous votes or close votes or what?
37
38   DR. DIAGNE: In the minutes, it will give you a vote count, but
39   several of these were unanimous.    For example, what should be
40   moved to the Considered but Rejected and so forth, those were
41   unanimous motions, but I cannot recall really the vote counts.
42
43   MR. GILL:   Assane, does the draft grouper IFQ outline include
44   the current recommendations of the ad hoc group at the beginning
45   of this month?
46
47   DR. ASSANE: No, the draft outline is left as it was back then.
48   The recommendations were separate and are presented to you


                                     30
 1   separate.   This is the draft outline that you saw when the AP
 2   made its initial recommendations before you.
 3
 4   MS. MORRIS:    Assane, can you explain a bit more about their
 5   request that we clarify their charge and specifically, they’re
 6   asking about tilefish and gray and golden tilefish.   What kind
 7   of clarification do they need and what’s the confusion and what
 8   is it they’re asking from us?
 9
10   DR. DIAGNE: They just perhaps wanted for the charge or the name
11   of the group, if you will, to reflect the scope of the work
12   being done. Initially, I believe that the name of this group is
13   Ad Hoc Grouper IFQ Advisory Panel, with emphasis on grouper.
14
15   Now that we are talking about widening the scope to other
16   species, including tilefish, panel members felt that perhaps it
17   should be reflected in the charge and hence, Grouper and
18   Tilefish IFQ, if you want. They also indicated that one of the
19   tile fishes was really a directed fishery, quote, and the other
20   one was mostly a bycatch fishery.     That’s why the request was
21   made to have separate TACs for those.
22
23   MS. MORRIS:   Is it just a simple change in the title or do we
24   need to look back at their original charge and reword it?
25
26   DR. DIAGNE: I think at this point a simple change in the name
27   and if you want to add that term in the charge, it would be
28   fine, too.
29
30   MS. WALKER:   Assane, can you tell us why the committee was not
31   interested in the elimination of latent permits?
32
33   DR. DIAGNE:   I didn’t say that they were not interested. They
34   said that for Action 1, Elimination of Latent Permits, the panel
35   considers it an unfavorable option.    It is not an option that
36   all panel members said directly to basically just discard.
37   Perhaps they are open to listening to more arguments.
38
39   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Other questions?   Before we start into the
40   next part of this, why don’t we take about a ten minute break
41   and we’ll come back at twenty-five to.
42
43   (Whereupon, a brief recess was taken.)
44
45   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Let’s get the Reef Fish Committee back to
46   order, please, some semblance of order.   While you’re at the
47   table, I would like to recognize Felicia Coleman, Dr. Coleman.
48   Welcome, a former council member.        She’ll be doing a


                                    31
 1   presentation for us later and Chris Koenig.     Chris, welcome.
 2
 3   If you’ll go back to your agenda, we’re now on Committee
 4   Recommendations. If you’ll go to Tab B, Number 4 and I believe,
 5   since we’ve been through this, that we can go to page 6. What I
 6   would like to do here is to go through these different actions
 7   and have some discussion and primarily discussing whether or not
 8   we feel like they’re a viable option here.
 9
10   If we don’t want them, we can put them in Considered but
11   Rejected.   At this point, if we keep them, then staff will be
12   making up the bevy of different actions underneath there that
13   need to be taken.
14
15   I talked to Stu a little bit about the latent permits and it’s
16   not just as black and white as you think, because there’s a lot
17   of folks that have a permit for the reef fish fishery that don’t
18   land grouper, but they certainly land red snapper.        That’s
19   something we need to be thinking about.
20
21   Initially, you would think that under the latent permits if you
22   didn’t have any landings that you’re not going to get any quota,
23   but there may be some other alternatives there.     With that, I
24   would like to open discussion up under Action 1, Elimination of
25   Latent Permits.
26
27   MS. MORRIS:   Can I back up a bit?     It seems like in the big
28   picture what we’re trying to do is give the staff enough
29   direction that they can go ahead and start writing a public
30   hearing draft for this amendment and is that right?
31
32   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   An options paper, correct.
33
34   MS. MORRIS: We have a scoping document and is the next step an
35   options paper or a public hearing draft?
36
37   CHAIRMAN MINTON: I think it would be an options paper and then
38   we would go through it and prepare it for public hearings.
39
40   MS. MORRIS: We have a lot of options already laid out here and
41   could this kind of be partway to an options paper?
42
43   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Absolutely.
44
45   MS. MORRIS:   Based on the Ad Hoc Grouper IFQ Committee meeting
46   report, I would like to introduce for discussion by the
47   committee the idea that we would narrow what we’re looking to by
48   moving both the buyback and the individual transferable effort


                                      32
 1   quota to -- We’ll no longer consider those as we develop the
 2   options paper and keep latent permit endorsements and ITQ as the
 3   main things that we’re focusing on. I would like some committee
 4   discussion of that idea.
 5
 6   MR. GILL:   I’ll second that, Mr. Chairman.
 7
 8   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Is that a motion?
 9
10   MS. MORRIS: I could make it a motion, but I was just asking for
11   some discussion.
12
13   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Sure, we’ll take one.   Go ahead.
14
15   MS. MORRIS: The motion would be to move buyback and individual
16   transferable effort quota to no longer be considered in the
17   document.
18
19   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Mr. Gill seconds that.   If you consider the
20   discussion we had earlier on the British Columbia experience, I
21   think that’s exactly what they went through in the salmon
22   fishery and they found out that it didn’t work.    I think it’s
23   very warranted to move this route.    Is there other discussion
24   from the committee or non-committee? Mr. McLemore says we need
25   more discussion.
26
27   MS. MORRIS: Bob Gill I see is raising his hand as well and so
28   would you like me to talk first or Bob?
29
30   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   You go ahead and then we’ll come back to Bob.
31
32   MS. MORRIS:   It seems like our experience with the buyback was
33   that we were advised that that’s more appropriately done through
34   Congress than through council action and we know that the
35   initiative along those lines is kind of in stall mode.
36
37   I think that’s a reason to move that to no longer considered and
38   the effort-based individual -- The transferable effort quota,
39   based on the examples that are in the document, it really hasn’t
40   worked to stabilize the fishery in other areas of the country
41   and people tend to intensify their capital investment in getting
42   bigger and more efficient boats, so that they can catch more
43   fish within the ever shrinking days that they’re allowed to fish
44   and so it leads to capital stuffing and that seems like a major
45   problem with that approach.
46
47   MR. GILL: Taking Action 5, the ITEQ first, to my knowledge, the
48   ITEQ has never worked anywhere, although I don’t know that


                                     33
 1   exhaustively.   I do not believe there’s been a successful ITEQ
 2   to date and so it seems at this point reasonable to not put any
 3   more effort into fleshing that out.
 4
 5   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   You mean ITEQ, right?
 6
 7   MR. GILL: Yes, sir, ITEQ. In terms of the buyback program, for
 8   similar reasons, that has been investigated and, as Ms. Morris
 9   said, mentioned in one fashion and not well received and not any
10   further and it’s currently stalled. At this point, I think it’s
11   appropriate that we not do any further looking at that.
12
13   Clearly the APs have indicated a strong preference for the IFQ
14   variety, or perhaps some other un-fleshed out item at this
15   point, but I would concur in that motion.
16
17   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Thank you, Bob. Are there other comments?
18   Any objection to the motion? We’re going to move Item 2 and 5
19   into the Considered but Rejected.
20
21   That takes us back to Item 1 then.     I guess we’ll have three
22   items left here on the possible alternatives or actions.    Does
23   the group want a little more staff discussion of what they
24   talked about with the latent permit and what all is entailed in
25   that?   Assane or Stu, could you go into that a little bit
26   further and kind of give us a little better discussion on what’s
27   involved with all the latent permits?
28
29   DR. DIAGNE: With the latent permits, fundamentally, the latent
30   permit elimination does not change or does not affect the
31   incentive structure in the fishery. In a nutshell, that’s what
32   it is.   If we buy out or eliminate latent permits, whoever is
33   left in the fishery still faces the same incentive to be as
34   competitive as he or she can.
35
36   You can go get a bigger boat, more gear, a bigger engine and so
37   forth and in terms of effective effort, you will not have
38   reduced anything.   You will end up exactly where you started
39   from, with fewer participants that’s true, but each one of them
40   will fish harder and basically, that will go back to one of the
41   points that Ms. Morris just made when she was talking about
42   transferable effort quota.
43
44   The AP realized that the elimination of latent permits will not
45   impact the incentive structure prevailing in the fishery and
46   that is the major reason why this is not a great option and that
47   they rated it unfavorable.
48


                                     34
 1   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   They also left it as not -- They didn’t give
 2   us a recommendation to eliminate it.
 3
 4   DR. DIAGNE: They rated it unfavorable and they indicated their
 5   preferred course of action and so I do not know --
 6
 7   MR. GILL:   It seems to me that Action 1 and Action 3 need to
 8   remain in the document, however we regard them as an alternative
 9   to the IFQ action, just to satisfy the requirements for looking
10   at alternatives.   They may not be highly desired, but on the
11   other hand, we need to look at them and consider them and have
12   something in place in case the IFQ is not passed.
13
14   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Another thing, Bob, is they may also give us
15   an additional alternative, not just in terms of a separate
16   program, but maybe weave some of this into the ITQ program
17   itself, so that it may be useful for us.      I kind of think we
18   should leave it alone and have staff further develop it, but
19   obviously it’s not -- We’ve got experiences to know that a
20   straight buyout or something like that won’t work.
21
22   MR. GILL:    One of the concerns that I have is that if the
23   referendum IFQ fails, the way the document is currently
24   structured is latent permits and permit endorsement.
25
26   It seems to me we’re left with an uncomfortable mix of options
27   in the event of IFQ not moving forward. The other side of that
28   coin is that no other options that are reasonable or favorable
29   have come forth. I think we’re caught between two sides of the
30   coin, that there’s no favorable alternative unless someone comes
31   up with yet another plan for effort limitation that we have not
32   yet seen to date.
33
34   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Remember now that we do have status quo.   That
35   is one of the, I guess, inaction action items.
36
37   MS. WALKER: I know I spoke with one of the fishermen during the
38   break and to me, a latent permit is a permit that somebody
39   hasn’t used for two or three years. I guess maybe we need some
40   discussion among the committee as to the definition of a latent
41   permit. Maybe Dr. Crabtree has a definition.
42
43   DR. CRABTREE:   I don’t think it’s officially defined anywhere.
44   I can tell you what it means to me. I consider a latent permit
45   to be a permit that’s had no activity, or a very minimal level
46   of activity, perhaps, but generally, I think of it as having no
47   activity and I don’t tend to think of a permit as being latent
48   for Species A, but not latent for Species B.


                                    35
 1
 2   I tend to think of it as the permit has either been inactive or
 3   it’s been active.  I would think in this case if a permit had
 4   any reef fish landings or if someone has been fishing in any
 5   aspect of the reef fish fishery, then that is not a latent
 6   permit.
 7
 8   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    In addition to -- In the first paragraph
 9   there, it talks about 185, or 13.5 percent, had no grouper, that
10   doesn’t necessarily mean they had no reef fish at all, right?
11   That’s what you’re saying?
12
13   DR. CRABTREE: Right. If your intent is that they’re not going
14   to be allowed to continue to participate in the grouper fishery,
15   then you would do that, to me, by establishing a grouper
16   endorsement and then they wouldn’t qualify, but I wouldn’t
17   consider the permit to be latent unless it just hasn’t been
18   fished at all.
19
20   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   The other thing that’s pointed out is if you
21   didn’t have any landings, you will not issue any shares and so
22   it’s kind of almost a moot issue, too.
23
24   DR. CRABTREE:    Arguably, it may be that you have not been
25   substantially participating in the fishery, in which case you’re
26   not eligible under the Act anyway. I guess “latent permit” may
27   apparently mean different things to different people.
28
29   MS. WALKER:     When you say they haven’t been substantially
30   fishing and then Mike reminded us of in the Magnuson Act where
31   it talked about community shares and things like that and how do
32   we handle that and define substantial?     I think that’s where
33   we’re going if we do an ITQ, is we have to define what
34   substantial is.    It’s probably very different in all of our
35   minds.
36
37   DR. CRABTREE:   I think that’s right and I think you have two
38   things you’re going to have to define. One will be participants
39   who substantially fished and they are then eligible to vote in
40   the referendum.
41
42   The agency will likely put out a proposed rule with some
43   guidelines about how to conduct the referendum and then it seems
44   to me there’s a second thing you have to do, because only people
45   who substantially participate are allowed to be issued quota
46   share or buy quota share.
47
48   Someone may substantially participate in the fishery but not


                                    36
 1   have any landings.   Someone who is a dealer, for example, and
 2   buys and sells fish, but doesn’t fish themselves, is arguably
 3   participating in the fishery. Somebody who is filleting grouper
 4   may be, in some sense, participating in the fishery.
 5
 6   I think there’s a lot of room for discussion in how that is, but
 7   it seems to me that it clearly goes beyond fishing and so
 8   clearly someone who has no landings may have substantially
 9   participated in the fishery and thus, would be eligible to buy
10   shares, at least, or even be given an initial allocation,
11   depending on how you lay it out. I think there’s a lot of work
12   and a lot of things there that we’re going to have to think
13   through.
14
15   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Roy, do you know       of any -- This is new
16   language and so we’re kind of plowing      new ground here, but is
17   there any other language in any of the    other fisheries that uses
18   that term that we might look at or get     staff to look at to help
19   us?
20
21   DR. CRABTREE: I don’t know of any right now, Vernon, but we can
22   keep looking around and we can keep talking around the country
23   and see what other people think.
24
25   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Larry, how does your thing with the chicken
26   and the hog go now?
27
28   MR. LARRY SIMPSON:    Breakfast.   The chicken is involved with
29   breakfast, but the hog is committed.
30
31   CHAIRMAN MINTON:     Is   that   what   we’re   talking   about   with
32   substantially involved?
33
34   MR. SIMPSON: I have a comment, Mr. Chairman. We have a history
35   of, in my opinion, substantial involvement.    You’ve got income
36   qualifiers and you’ve got landings requirements in various
37   fisheries. To me, that’s substantially involved. I don’t know
38   what you mean that we don’t have any precedent on that.
39
40   DR. CRABTREE:   I agree that Larry is correct about that. We
41   have set up income qualifiers and we have used landings
42   qualifiers in other fisheries.
43
44   MS. MORRIS:   Just in summary on Action 1, Latent Permits, it
45   seems like wherever this document goes next, we should have some
46   information in it that tells us of these permits with no grouper
47   landings how many of them have no landings at all and how many
48   of them have landings in other reef fish fisheries.


                                      37
 1
 2   It may also be -- It seems like what we’re interested in is
 3   which permits have no grouper landings, regardless of whether --
 4   Do you understand? We want to know who has grouper landings and
 5   who has no landings.   We want to be able to tease that apart,
 6   which permits.
 7
 8   It might make sense to combine an examination of latent permits
 9   with an endorsement, since the endorsement seems like it’s -- It
10   gets at the question of people who have reef fish permits, but
11   aren’t landing grouper.
12
13   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   What you’re talking about is adding another
14   sentence on to Paragraph 1 then.
15
16   MS. MORRIS: Just some analysis that helps us see of these what
17   we’re calling latent permits how many of them just have no
18   grouper landings and how many of them have landings in other
19   reef fish fisheries.
20
21   MR. GILL:   Of course, the other thing that comes here is no
22   matter how we slice this pie, it’s not going to be black and
23   white. It’s going to be gray fuzzy edges, et cetera. There’s
24   going to be folks, for example, I suspect, and I have no idea
25   how many or what type, that don’t fit our definitions that we
26   may want to consider in some fashion.
27
28   I’m not necessarily suggesting an appeals process, but somehow
29   at least address whether they can remain in the fishery or not
30   that don’t meet our criteria.
31
32   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   I don’t understand how that would work.
33
34   MR. GILL:     We set some criteria for participation in the
35   fishery.   There’s going to be, I’m sure, some subset of the
36   current participants that do not meet those criteria.   All I’m
37   suggesting is we should not go forth to establish criterion and
38   let the chips fall where they may without understanding what
39   happens or the rationale or whatever for those folks that don’t
40   fit that.
41
42   Exactly how we do it -- One of the common ways is an appeals
43   process and I’m not suggesting necessarily that we should do it
44   that way, but I think we ought not ignore -- How many is it, for
45   example?   Do we have a substantial problem or a small problem?
46   We need to address it in some fashion.
47
48   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   If the program is in place today and a person


                                     38
 1   had a near latent permit, they would still be in, but what
 2   you’re saying is you would leave the door open to where if that
 3   person wanted to come back later and buy shares -- They would
 4   have the permit, but they could then buy shares and move back
 5   up? You’re only going to have so many shares out there and so I
 6   don’t quite -- That’s why I didn’t get the connect there. I’m
 7   sorry, but I’m just not following it.
 8
 9   MR. GILL:    At this point, Mr. Chairman, we’re only talking
10   latent permits. We’re not tying it to an ITQ or anything and so
11   what we’re talking about is segregating the fishery into those
12   that can and those that can’t. My suggestion here is that those
13   that can’t -- I don’t know what the numbers are. It might even
14   be substantial, I have no idea.
15
16   We need to know what we’re doing to those folks and whether or
17   not we want to consider an alternative for them or not. We may
18   want to exclude them and that’s fine. All I’m suggesting is we
19   make a conscious decision as to those folks that don’t fit, as
20   opposed to letting it slide.
21
22   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   All right.
23
24   DR. CRABTREE:   Remember, this is early in the development of a
25   document and before you make any final decisions, or even go to
26   public hearings, all this would have to be carefully analyzed
27   and we would look at, as best we can, the make-up of that group
28   of people and their dependence on other fisheries and the
29   estimates of the impacts on all those kinds of things.
30
31   To the extent that we have data to analyze that sort of thing,
32   it will be in the document and you’ll see it before you make any
33   decisions, if that helps.
34
35   MR. PERRET: Vernon, you and I are -- I, like you, am not quite
36   understanding some of this.    Roy, you mentioned your examples
37   were those that filet grouper or buy and sell. In my opinion,
38   the whole purpose of these type exercises, and hopefully
39   implementation at some date in the future, if indeed that’s the
40   direction we go, is to better manage the fishery by allowing
41   harvest for those individuals, fishermen, not the guys that
42   filet the fish and not the guys that buy the fish and so on.
43
44   Mr. Erickson mentioned that prior to their program being
45   implemented that the buyers controlled the price and once his
46   program got implemented, there was more flexibility and more
47   buyers now.   What do you mean about limiting the number of
48   fileters and buyers and sellers and so on?      That certainly


                                     39
 1   wouldn’t be part of a fishery that would limit the harvesters,
 2   in my opinion.
 3
 4   DR. CRABTREE: All I was pointing out, Corky, is the language in
 5   that particular part of the Act is different.     I’m not saying
 6   that you would want to do that necessarily, but it seems to me
 7   that it would allow you to more broadly interpret what
 8   participating in the fishery is than just having landings.
 9
10   You could decide that it’s just those people who have landings.
11   I think that’s something that would be up to the council, but at
12   some level, it appears they would have to participate in the
13   fishery in some way to be eligible to buy shares or to be
14   initially allocated shares.
15
16   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Julie, one last try?
17
18   MS. MORRIS:   No, I was going to move on to another topic and so
19   go ahead.
20
21   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Where we’re    leaving this then is with staff to
22   help flesh out this area for    the next document. Stu is nodding
23   his head yes and so this -- I    guess this would move us to Action
24   Item 3. Is that where you’re    headed, Julie?
25
26   MS. MORRIS:   Not quite, but it’s okay.   I’ll hold off.
27
28   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Action 3, Permit Endorsements, this is where
29   they would create a grouper endorsement to the reef fish permit
30   to allow the harvest of grouper in the Gulf of Mexico.     We’ve
31   got basically two commercial harvesters, longline and vertical
32   line, and I’m assuming they would set this up based on some type
33   of percentage-wise. Are there comments on the committee?
34
35   MS. MORRIS:    I don’t really -- I think that this also has
36   problems related to capital stuffing and is problematic, but I
37   think we need to keep it in the document just so we have a
38   reasonable range of ways to address the overcapitalization in
39   the grouper fishery.
40
41   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Other comments?      If I don’t hear anything,
42   we’re going to just move on then.      That takes us to Action 4,
43   IFQs.
44
45   MR. GILL: If I understand this correctly, the Tab B-7(c), which
46   is the Draft Grouper IFQ Outline, incorporates all the
47   recommendations made by the ad hoc group at our March meeting
48   that Lee Deaderick presented.


                                      40
 1
 2   It would seem to me      that   how we    can improve that document is
 3   consider the changes     that    the ad   hoc group requested at their
 4   October meeting this     year   and add   or not add, as we so choose,
 5   to that document and     then   we can    proceed through the document,
 6   if you so please.
 7
 8   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   That sounds good.   Are there other comments?
 9   Anything else?   Is there anything you want to direct staff on
10   for adding to the document, like he just added?
11
12   MR. GILL:    Are   you    looking   for    motions   at   this   time,   Mr.
13   Chairman?
14
15   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   What we’re doing now is just making sure we
16   get enough information to staff to where they can come back with
17   the options paper, hopefully fleshed out to the point where we
18   can move through it and prepare it for a public hearing
19   document.
20
21   What I think now, since we’ve got three items left, is look at
22   those and see if there are other discussions that need to take
23   place to direct staff to help us in preparation for the next
24   paper.
25
26   MR. GILL:    The three items left you’re referring to on the
27   scoping document and is that --
28
29   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    That’s correct, 1 and 3 and 4, the action
30   items.   We took out 2 and 5 and so now you’re down to three
31   items, plus I guess you could count status quo, and so you’ve
32   got four, and staff is going to have to work those up into
33   different options underneath those and give us a better amount
34   of information so we can proceed on.
35
36   MR. GILL: In that case, I would like to move that we add Tab B-
37   7(c) to Action 4, the ITQ action item.
38
39   CHAIRMAN MINTON:  I think what we would do is direct staff to
40   add it in there as part of that action, without objection and
41   seeing none. Julie, you had something else?
42
43   MS. MORRIS:    I was going to suggest that the most recent
44   recommendations of the Ad Hoc IFQ Panel be added to the work
45   product that we had in December. Do you understand, Bob? We’ve
46   got the December B-7(c) to be added into the document and then
47   there’s some nuances from the Ad Hoc IFQ Committee report that
48   we just received at this meeting that should be incorporated in


                                         41
 1   there as well.
 2
 3   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   All right.   Is there anything else?
 4
 5   DR. RICK LEARD:      I think I remember when first started
 6   considering a grouper IFQ that I mentioned something to the
 7   council about as far as staff doing the work and whatnot that we
 8   could probably do the same amount of work even if we considered
 9   all reef fish species.      I was wondering if there was any
10   interest in considering all reef fish species, as opposed to
11   just the grouper species, in an IFQ.
12
13   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    I’m concerned, personally, about the timing
14   that it would take. Julie, what was the amendment that we put
15   it in, put it out, put it in and put it out?       Amendment 18?
16   Thank you, Steve. This could delay this for years, I’m afraid.
17   Julie, did you have a comment?
18
19   MS. MORRIS: I was going to say a similar thing. I think that
20   we should clarify that tilefish are included, but beyond that,
21   it seems like adding amberjack -- We definitely don’t want to
22   add red snapper, or I wouldn’t at this point.
23
24   It seems like we need to start      with what we have and then once
25   we move a little further down        the road, we could talk about
26   connecting everything up with        each other, but I think I’m
27   comfortable now with grouper and    tilefish.
28
29   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Other comments?  I think that’s the feeling.
30   Rick, thank you, but I think that’s the general feeling. We’re
31   afraid we would get so bogged down trying to figure out where we
32   went with it that we would never come to closure on it, or at
33   least it would take us a while, not that we move at a very fast
34   pace anyway.
35
36   MS. MORRIS:   Can we -- Do we need to have a motion to clarify
37   that tilefish are included in their charge, since they asked us
38   to clarify that?
39
40   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   We just re-titled them and so I guess we had
41   better.
42
43   MS. MORRIS:   I move that we clarify that the charge to the ad
44   hoc group includes tilefish.
45
46   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Is there a second?
47
48   MR. GILL:   Second, Mr. Chairman.


                                      42
 1
 2   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   It’s seconded by Mr. Gill.    Is there any
 3   discussion? Is there any objection? The motion carries. Thank
 4   you, Julie.  Stu and Assane, does that conclude where we’re at
 5   here? Any other comments on this?
 6
 7   MR. GILL:   Mr. Chairman, would it be appropriate at this point
 8   to go through this document and see if the committee would like
 9   to either modify it or select preferreds, et cetera?
10
11   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   On 29?   There’s no options.
12
13   MR. GILL:   I’m talking on Action 4, the addition that we just
14   put in there of the recommendations from the ad hoc panel.
15
16   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   What’s the committee’s feeling?   Do you want
17   to go through that now or do you want to let staff kind of mock
18   those up a little bit better and possibly do it later?
19
20   MS. MORRIS:   We can’t choose preferred alternatives with no
21   analysis.
22
23   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    I think we would be better off waiting,
24   although I appreciate your aggressiveness to get this thing
25   done.   I just got mine and so we’ll take that up at the next
26   meeting.
27
28   MR. BILL TEEHAN: I was just wondering if staff could give us an
29   idea of what the timeframe of developing of the next stage of
30   this is.
31
32   DR. DIAGNE: I think for the next meeting that we will bring an
33   options paper that will include your recommendations, as well as
34   the recommendations from the AP that you’ve directed us to
35   include.
36
37   We’ll start putting some analysis looking at the distribution of
38   permits, who lands what and what are the latent permits and so
39   forth.   We will have a perhaps well developed options paper at
40   the next meeting. That is the timeline that we want to follow.
41
42   CHAIRMAN MINTON:  Thank you.   That concludes Item IV and let’s
43   move on then to the Reports on Marine Reserves.       We have a
44   report by the Southeast Fisheries Center on Madison-Swanson and
45   Steamboat Lumps. It’s Tab B, Number 8. I’ve got Chris Gledhill
46   and Andy David. Are you both doing a presentation or just one?
47
48   DR. CHRISTOPHER GLEDHILL:   We were going to tag-team it.


                                      43
 1
 2   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Okay. Is it possible that we could get a copy
 3   of the presentation when you’re finished?
 4
 5   DR. GLEDHILL:   I think you do, don’t you?
 6
 7   MR. STEVEN ATRAN:    It’s in your handouts that you would have
 8   received either today --
 9
10   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Or tomorrow?
11
12   MR. ATRAN:   It should be in your handout package today.
13
14   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   It’s there somewhere and thank you.     Go ahead.
15
16   MR. ATRAN:    It’s also, I believe -- If you’re on our Gulf
17   Council mobile network, it’s on our shared drive that you can
18   download, but you should have received it as about a fifty-page
19   handout.
20
21   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Please proceed.
22
23                       REPORTS ON MARINE RESERVES
24
25   DR. GLEDHILL:   Andy and I are going to talk about our work in
26   Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps.   I’m going to tell you a
27   little bit about the trends in fish populations that have been
28   going on, occurring since 2001.
29
30   Andy is then going to talk about work done by Dr. Steve Smith at
31   the University of Miami.     We conducted an aerial survey of
32   fishing activity on the West Florida Shelf and then answer some
33   of the questions the council had about MPAs.
34
35   First, as a reminder, we are working        at Madison-Swanson and
36   Steamboat Lumps.    They’re both located    along the West Florida
37   Shelf.   Madison-Swanson is about fifty    to sixty nautical miles
38   south of Panama City and Steamboat Lumps   is west of Tampa.
39
40   During our surveys, we’re also monitoring a fished area that we
41   call the Twin Ridges, which is exactly what it says it is. It’s
42   two different ridges that are analogous to the ridge that’s
43   located in Madison-Swanson.
44
45   As a reminder, again, what we’re doing is monitoring trends in
46   gag, primarily, within the two MPAs. These were set aside as an
47   experiment to determine whether or not MPAs can protect spawning
48   aggregations of gag grouper and so I’m going to focus on gag,


                                       44
 1   though we have noticed over 160 taxa during our surveys.   I’ll
 2   also present information on red grouper, scamp, and red snapper
 3   as well.
 4
 5   One thing to keep in mind, or two things to keep in mind, when
 6   you’re trying to consider whether the MPAs have been working or
 7   not, is what might happen with an MPA.      One thing you should
 8   expect to see is an increase in abundance of the protected
 9   species and another thing might be an increase in their size.
10
11   Our objective since 2001 has been to first establish baseline
12   estimates. This was done in 2001 and describe habitat features
13   and species assemblages and habitat relationships.     I’m not
14   going to talk about that today, but I do have some slides, if
15   anyone is interested in it later, and what I’m really going to
16   talk about is any changes in abundance of gag.
17
18   One of the first things we did is have these two areas mapped
19   with multibeam bathymetry.    We used these to identify strata
20   within Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps and we’ve been
21   conducting annual surveys since 2001 using video gear.      What
22   I’ll do today is compare what’s been occurring within the two
23   MPAs, between that and what’s been occurring along the Florida
24   Shelf, West Florida Shelf, data that we collect during our Gulf-
25   wide SEAMAP video surveys.
26
27   This is the gear that we’ve been using. It’s a camera array.
28   This is baited with squid and soaks on the bottom for thirty
29   minutes.
30
31   We randomly select one camera for viewing.     This is a time
32   consuming process and so only one camera gets selected. Twenty
33   minutes of video are actually viewed and we determine an
34   estimator that we call a minimum count.
35
36   This is the maximum number of any particular fish, species of
37   fish, in the field of view at one instance.  We also classify
38   habitat and try to estimate the relative proportions in the
39   field of view.
40
41   This is Madison-Swanson.      Madison-Swanson was divided into
42   initially seven strata, though that was only in 2001.      We’ve
43   since only used five strata. Number 1 is the northeast region,
44   Stratum 2 is ridge-like feature in the northeast, Stratum 3 is a
45   large central area, Stratum 4 are the pinnacles located in the
46   southern part, and Stratum 5 is a series of mounds right
47   practically in the middle.
48


                                    45
 1   Steamboat Lumps, again, we divide it into five strata: a
 2   northeast region with some dunes; a small Stratum 2, which is an
 3   area of pits that were excavated most probably by red grouper;
 4   Stratum 3 is a large central area; Stratum 4 is to the south and
 5   it’s a ridge, an old paleoshoreline; and then Stratum 5 is a
 6   sloping, hard, ridge-like feature.
 7
 8   These are the Twin Ridges. One thing I failed to point out is
 9   the sizes of these two areas. The total area of Madison-Swanson
10   is about 360 or so square kilometers.     We only view or survey
11   266 square kilometers and the amount of habitat where we
12   regularly see gag is only fifty-nine square kilometers.
13
14   Steamboat Lumps is a little smaller. We only survey 216 square
15   kilometers and just Stratum 5 is where notice gag and that’s
16   only about two square kilometers in size. The Twin Ridges area
17   has about five square kilometers of habitat.
18
19   For comparative purposes, we’re taking a look at the abundances
20   of gag and a couple of other groupers along the West Florida
21   Shelf.   These are data collected during a SEAMAP video survey
22   that goes from Brownsville, Texas to the Dry Tortugas and this
23   shows our primary sampling units.   The same camera methodology
24   is used, thirty minutes soaks and twenty minutes of video are
25   viewed.
26
27   Where have we been noticing gag? Basically, all along the shelf
28   edge and mostly north of Pulley Ridge, which is the area just
29   northwest of the Dry Tortugas, but gag are in abundance from the
30   Mobile Pinnacles all the way through Steamboat Lumps and the
31   Florida Middle Grounds.
32
33   The highest abundances we’ve noticed actually have been in
34   Madison-Swanson.   These are the data collected from Madison-
35   Swanson.    It’s very small, I’m sorry.      It’s mostly zero
36   observations   in  the   central  portion,  but   the  highest
37   concentrations are along the ridge, the pinnacles to the south
38   and the mounds.
39
40   I’m going to show you two sets of slides for the abundance
41   estimates.   One is nominal data and this is just the straight
42   index of abundance, numbers of fish and minimum counts of fish.
43   The error bars here are one standard error and then we’ll also
44   standardize these to the mean of each of these time series. It
45   lets you compare the trends in abundance a little easier between
46   the surveys.
47
48   This shows the SEAMAP survey in the blue diamonds.   The survey


                                    46
 1   extends back to 1992, but I’m only showing the data here that
 2   overlaps the years that the MPA surveys have been conducted.
 3   Along the eastern Gulf of Mexico, gag have been increasing in
 4   abundance through 2005 and since then, they’ve declined.
 5
 6   In Madison-Swanson, they’ve increased through 2003, a dip in
 7   2004, back up in 2005 and again, they’re decreasing.      You’re
 8   going to see the same pattern for all the fish I show you. This
 9   is the standardized index and again, you can see in the most
10   recent years that gag are declining within Madison-Swanson and
11   the West Florida Shelf.
12
13   Twin Ridges is the little pink.   It peaked in 2003 and it’s
14   declined and has been relatively level since then.  Steamboat
15   Lumps, you can barely see in the nominal index, because the
16   numbers are so low.
17
18   However, when you standardize it, you can see, again, the same
19   peak for Twin Ridges in 2003 and that there was a peak abundance
20   of gag, although it was a very low number, in 2006 at Steamboat
21   Lumps and it dropped back down in 2007.
22
23   Red grouper, again, here a general increase in the SEAMAP survey
24   through 2005 and it’s decreased since then. In Madison-Swanson,
25   there was a general increase until 2006, with the most recent
26   data point down again.    Again, in the standardized index, you
27   can see the same downward trend in the most recent year. There
28   are no differences between the MPA and the eastern Gulf of
29   Mexico.
30
31   Within Twin Ridges, there’s been an increase through 2005 and a
32   decrease in 2006 and slightly up again in 2007.       Steamboat
33   Lumps, the numbers are low.        The numbers are low.     The
34   standardized index, you can really pick this out, what’s going
35   on in Steamboat Lumps, a little bit better. It peaked in 2002
36   and we had a data holiday in 2003 and 2004, because of weather,
37   and down in 2005, but up again in the most recent years,
38   different than what’s been going on. In Twin Ridges, it peaked
39   in 2005 and has been down since then.
40
41   Scamp, it’s a similar pattern.   It increases from 2003 to 2005
42   and in most recent years, a decline, both on the eastern Gulf of
43   Mexico and within Madison-Swanson. It’s a little bit better to
44   see that with a standardized index, a general decline in the
45   most recent years.
46
47   Within Twin Ridges, it peaked in 2003 and a slow decline since
48   then. Again, numbers in Steamboat Lumps, the yellow or greenest


                                    47
 1   squares, have been very low.   It’s a general decline to level
 2   trends within the Twin Ridges and, again, in Steamboat Lumps, a
 3   decline in most recent years.
 4
 5   Red snapper, the largest abundance we noticed with Madison-
 6   Swanson was the very first year. It dipped down and then came
 7   back up again slightly in 2005 and again, the most recent years
 8   are down.
 9
10   Within the eastern Gulf of Mexico, going back to 1992, there’s
11   been a general increase until 2004.      With the latest years,
12   again, a decrease in abundance. You can see that again with the
13   standardized indices, declines in the most recent years.
14
15   At the Twin Ridges, red snapper have been up and down.        It
16   peaked really in 2004 and 2005 and decreased again in 2006 and
17   it’s slightly up again in 2007.     Steamboat Lumps, the numbers
18   are very low, but they peaked. You can see the big data point
19   in 2006 and it crashed back down again in 2007.
20
21   Twin Ridges, there’s been really no change over the time series
22   and so what’s been going on?       We almost have two separate
23   periods and this been occurring along the eastern Gulf of Mexico
24   in the MPAs and in Twin Ridges.        The Twin Ridges is not
25   protected.
26
27   We did see gradual increases from 2003 to 2005 for both the
28   eastern Gulf of Mexico and Madison-Swanson and little changes in
29   Steamboat Lumps.   However, what’s very depressing here is the
30   decreases we’ve noticed recently, declines in Madison-Swanson
31   for gag and red grouper, scamp and red snapper decreases,
32   mimicking what’s been going on in Madison-Swanson for all those
33   species, with a little bit of mixed results, either no change or
34   an increase or a decrease, at Steamboat Lumps or at Twin Ridges.
35
36   We use non-destructive gear and so we get very little size
37   information.   The way we get a size estimate is the use of
38   lasers that have been placed above and below our camera. If a
39   fish swims in the middle of them, you get an estimate and so you
40   get very low numbers.
41
42   Hopefully in 2008, we’ll be switching to stereo cameras.     The
43   gear is being put together right now and hopefully it will be in
44   operation by January and we’ll be able to get size estimates on
45   every single fish we see, but what all this says is that there’s
46   been no change in size since 2001.
47
48   The   averages   here   are   not   significantly   different   from   each


                                          48
 1   other.   They’re all in the means of around 700 millimeters and
 2   so there’s been no increase in gag and these are all from
 3   Madison-Swanson.
 4
 5   In summary, Steamboat Lumps has very little habitat and very low
 6   numbers of gag.    It’s also very small in size, at least the
 7   habitat that’s prime gag habitat.        It’s only two square
 8   kilometers.
 9
10   In Madison-Swanson and Twin Ridges and the eastern Gulf of
11   Mexico, there’s been a general decrease in groupers and red
12   snapper in the most recent years and for gag within Madison-
13   Swanson, there’s been no change, no increase or decrease, in the
14   size of gag that we’re observing.
15
16   Poaching is an issue.   Andy is going to address that next and
17   one other thing that’s important in considering the usefulness
18   of MPAs is how much habitat you’ve set aside. The gag habitat
19   within Madison-Swanson is only about 5 percent of the area that
20   we actually survey during the SEAMAP surveys in the eastern Gulf
21   of Mexico.
22
23   I’m not saying we survey during SEAMAP all habitat, but most of
24   the topographic features that have been mapped out in the
25   eastern Gulf of Mexico. In Steamboat Lumps, that percentage is
26   less than a tenth of a percent.
27
28   Funding from this has been initially from MARFIN and then the
29   Coral Reef Initiative. We’ve been using the Caretta, Gandy, and
30   the NOAA ship Oregon II. There are a slew of people that have
31   to view these videotapes and go out to sea. I would especially
32   like to acknowledge Kevin, Paul, and Brandy.      Their efforts
33   enabled us to get the 2007 data point this year. They did a lot
34   of work. Now I’m going to turn this over to Andy David.
35
36   DR. ANDY DAVID: The work I’m going to talk about first was not
37   done by NOAA Fisheries.    This was done by the University of
38   Miami, but while we have a good handle on what’s going on with
39   the fish, we really have no idea what’s happening with the
40   fishing effort and this study has done something to address that
41   situation.
42
43   This was an aerial survey that was conducted by Steve Smith at
44   the University of Miami. The area that he has surveyed is the
45   longer box south of the Cape San Blas area.     The brighter red
46   area is an Air Force bombing range and so they don’t fly the
47   NOAA planes in there very often. This was using a NOAA plane,
48   but it was contracted to the University of Miami.


                                    49
 1
 2   As I said, Steve Smith conducted this.      He looked at 3,200
 3   square miles. Essentially, they flew two passes every day, from
 4   the forty-fathom contour off of Tampa up along the shelf break
 5   to an area south of Panama City, where they flew in and refueled
 6   and ate lunch and went back.
 7
 8   They randomized whether they flew the inshore half or the
 9   offshore half each time.   This was done from a Shrike airplane
10   flying at a thousand feet.
11
12   They used georeferenced cameras and so when they saw a vessel
13   fishing or transiting, they would take pictures of it, from the
14   side first, to tell what kind of vessel it was and get some idea
15   of what they were doing, and then from directly overhead, where
16   they have a GPS hooked up to the camera so they know exactly
17   where the boat is fishing.    If it’s close to an edge or the
18   border of one of the MPAs, they can tell precisely whether it’s
19   inside or outside.
20
21   The MPAs are just over two hundred square miles. They were just
22   under 7 percent of the area surveyed by the plane. The flights
23   were stratified by three factors.      One, the time of year,
24   whether it was a spawning season for the target species or not,
25   the commercial and recreational closed seasons for grouper and
26   snapper, and also the day of the week, whether it was the middle
27   of the week or a weekend or a holiday.       We were looking at
28   commercial and recreational.   Commercial boats would likely be
29   out at any time of the week, but recreational boats have higher
30   activity during the weekend.
31
32   There were forty-nine flights made.   Twenty-four of them were
33   considered to be the spawning season time, between January and
34   April, and twenty-five were the summertime, between May and
35   September.
36
37   These are some of the photos that were taken.   They may be a
38   little far away. They’re a little far away from me, from where
39   I’m standing, but when you look at the photos they’ve taken,
40   they’re very clear. You can count the number of people on the
41   boat and if you knew who owned the boat, you could probably
42   identify the people onboard.
43
44   I think Chris and I are actually on the back deck of the Caretta
45   in the lower right-hand photo there.     That’s the NOAA vessel.
46   There’s really pretty definitive photos of what type of boat it
47   was, whether it was transiting or motionless, anchored or
48   running, whether there was fishing gear in use or stowed.


                                    50
 1
 2   I would like to point out in the CDs I think that were
 3   distributed that the headboats are listed as commercial boats
 4   and I’ve since been told that Steve actually included those as
 5   recreational boats.   The recreational boats were all those
 6   through which the anglers were using the recreational bag
 7   limits.
 8
 9   Just some of his results -- He plans to issue a full report on
10   this, but we thought it was important at this time, as you’re
11   discussing it, to get some preliminaries.    He saw just under a
12   thousand boats during these flights. I believe it was 994 boats
13   and they were a fair parity between the two seasons.
14
15   However, there were quite a few more commercial vessels than
16   there were recreational vessels.     In the wintertime period,
17   about three-quarters of the boats were commercial and just under
18   12 percent recreational and a few that were in the Other
19   Category, which would be freighters, Coast Guard vessels,
20   research vessels.
21
22   In the summertime, it was a little higher number of recreational
23   boats. They were almost 35 percent. The commercial boats were
24   a little over 50 percent and roughly the same number of others.
25   About three-quarters of the commercial boats that they saw were
26   actively fishing, whereas it was somewhere right around 70
27   percent of the recreational boats seen were fishing.
28
29   The majority of the other vessels, as I said, were freighters,
30   about three-quarters of those. It’s important to point out that
31   this data was collected for scientific purposes only.      There
32   were no enforcement actions taken from this. Even though there
33   were photos of vessels taken, they weren’t used for anything
34   other than identifying what type of boat it was and where it was
35   when it was seen.
36
37   These very hard to see shots are distributions of the different
38   types of vessels by the different types of seasons.    The four
39   panels on the left only include the boats that were seen
40   fishing, whereas -- Actually, it includes all the boats that
41   were seen, but the numbers in the panels there are only the
42   boats that were seen fishing.
43
44   What we see here is the commercial boats had a smaller
45   percentage of boats that were seen fishing in the closed areas,
46   but they had a larger total number. The recreational boats had
47   a higher percentage of boats fishing in the closed area, but
48   their total number was smaller.


                                    51
 1
 2   The total number of boats was greater for commercial, but the
 3   recreational were a higher percentage.       You can see, and
 4   hopefully it’s clearer on the handouts, that the larger number
 5   of recreational boats were clustered up at the northern end, at
 6   the Madison-Swanson end of the survey track. That’s the closest
 7   point to land.
 8
 9   The majority of the non-fishing vessels generally were freighter
10   traffic moving in and out of the Port of Tampa and you can see
11   almost a line across the lower portion of the plots and there
12   really is a fair parity between the winter season and the summer
13   season in this.
14
15   This is just a close-up of the northern end, for say
16   recreational vessels for the summertime.    You can see the red
17   box sort of in the bottom portion of it, that’s the Madison-
18   Swanson area. You can see -- Whether or not we found there to
19   be any spillover effect, it’s difficult to dissect from the
20   data, but certainly the fishing community believes there may be,
21   because there’s an awful lot of fishing along the edge of this
22   MPA.
23
24   We were also asked to address a series        of questions by the
25   council.   All of the questions that were     given to us, some of
26   them were beyond the scope of what our       project is aiming to
27   address and so we’ll try to answer them as   best we can.
28
29   The first is how do we define a successful MPA and what criteria
30   do we use to measure success? I guess a successful MPA is one
31   that achieves its goals.   Different MPAs have different goals.
32   In our case, or this case, the goals were to protect gag
33   spawning aggregations and to provide locations to assess the
34   efficacy or the practicality of marine reserves to protect these
35   spawning aggregations.
36
37   Using these criteria, the Madison-Swanson MPA has had mixed
38   results.    After several years of a gradual increase, gag
39   abundance within Madison has declined since 2005.      A similar
40   decline from 2004 through 2006 has been observed for the Greater
41   West Florida Shelf and so at best, we could say these two MPAs
42   have not been able to provide consistent protection for gag.
43
44   The second question is have you seen any changes in the male to
45   female gag ratio, the sex ratio here, both within the closed
46   areas and within the general gag population that might be
47   attributable to these reserves and how do you attribute the
48   change to any areas outside the reserve?


                                    52
 1
 2   Since our survey uses a non-destructive sampling technique -- It
 3   doesn’t seem to make much sense to catch and kill a couple
 4   hundred gag from your closed area to tell what sex they are if
 5   you’re trying to protect them and so we use a non-destructive
 6   photographic method.
 7
 8   While you can tell some pigmentation from the video data,
 9   whether a gag looks like it’s a copper belly or not, using
10   visual data from fish that are alive underwater has proven
11   extremely unreliable.
12
13   Using visual data from fish in a fish house that are dead,
14   copper bellies that are dead tend to be males, at a much greater
15   rate than copper bellies, or apparent copper bellies, that you
16   see swimming along the bottom. There are a very large number of
17   fish swimming in the water that look like they may be males, but
18   they aren’t.
19
20   Since our survey does not do this, we really can’t address this
21   question.     However, it should be pointed out that gag
22   populations are driven by these episodically high and strong
23   year classes and there’s a lot of skewing of sex ratios that can
24   go on by very large influxes of females coming into the
25   population.
26
27   We’re    also interested in removing males from the large size
28   range    of the population, but we just wanted to stress that
29   that’s   not the only way that you can change sex ratios and I may
30   have a   slide about that.
31
32   The third question is have you seen any changes in abundance,
33   size, or distribution of gag outside the MPAs that could be
34   attributed to them and if so, how is it attributed to the
35   reserves and not other regulatory actions that have changed over
36   the last seven years?
37
38   The index of abundance of gag on the West Florida Shelf has
39   decreased in the last two years and we see no evidence, really,
40   of a spillover effect.    There’s not a concomitant increase in
41   the adjacent open to fishing area.
42
43   However, the aerial survey does indicate that at least portions
44   of the fishing community believe there is some sort of a
45   spillover effect, because they certainly are spending a lot of
46   time fishing the edges of Madison-Swanson, not so much with
47   Steamboat Lumps.
48


                                      53
 1   Then we had three questions that were really beyond the scope of
 2   our project. These were general MPA questions on larger scale,
 3   are there any measurable impacts of marine reserves that can be
 4   incorporated into the stock assessments and if so, how do you
 5   measure the impacts?
 6
 7   The next one was do you feel that marine reserves are an
 8   effective way to control fishing mortality on a stock? Lastly,
 9   is there any evidence that marine reserves increase yields
10   outside the reserves or inside?
11
12   Those really are well beyond the scope of what we are trying to
13   do, which was strictly look at an experimental protection of a
14   small area for one specific purpose, which is the male gag on
15   spawning aggregations.    However, these questions have been
16   addressed by others.
17
18   I would point out the Halperin paper of 2003.     In fact, the
19   entire volume of ecological applications that that paper is
20   written in is a -- It’s a supplement and it’s devoted entirely
21   to MPAs and so there’s a large range of things you can look at
22   in there that address the different factors that make MPAs
23   successful, depending upon the goals that you set up when you
24   start them.
25
26   On Number 7, do you feel that the MPAs can have large-scale
27   benefits or are the benefits primarily localized in the
28   immediate areas in and near the MPA?     They certainly can have
29   large-scale benefits, particularly for species such as gag, ones
30   that have strong site fidelity to a well defined habitat type,
31   to a well defined spawning aggregation on a reef, for example.
32
33   Coupling these characteristics with the hermaphroditic life
34   history of gag, where the large numbers or all of the
35   individuals in the population are exposed to fishing pressure
36   long before they can attain sexual maturity or switch to males
37   and so you have a good chance that you can skew your sex ratio
38   just with heavy fishing pressure, before you have enough fish
39   even switch to male and allow sexual reproduction to occur.
40
41   There are some caveats here.     The strongest one assumes that
42   closed areas are of sufficient size to protect enough
43   individuals to maintain a genetic diversity within the stock and
44   produce enough propagule to populate the entire range.
45
46   Size and the next question, which addresses poaching, those seem
47   to be the two driving forces of whether the MPAs are successful,
48   is it large enough to actually do the job and protect the home


                                    54
 1   range of the    fish   you’re   looking   to   protect   and   are   you
 2   enforcing it?
 3
 4   That brings up the last question, Number 8, do you think
 5   poaching in Madison-Swanson has adversely affected the results
 6   and if so, in which years was that a big problem?      The simple
 7   answer is yes, we saw poaching almost every year we were out
 8   there.   There was only one year, I believe, that we saw no
 9   poaching and that was about in the middle of the project.
10
11   The aerial indicates about 2 percent of the commercial vessels
12   and somewhere between 3 and 5 percent of the recreational
13   vessels were fishing within MPAs.
14
15   We’ve spent well over a hundred days at sea in these sites since
16   this project began in January of 2001 and during that time, we
17   saw gradual increases in the amount of poaching, particularly in
18   Madison, that started out at fairly low levels and increased
19   each year until the middle of the project.
20
21   At that point, there was a fairly high profile enforcement
22   action and a very significant fine handed to a captain and an
23   owner and it was as if a light switch had been turned off. The
24   boats just were no longer there. We went for an entire year and
25   we did not see any poaching at all after that.
26
27   Subsequently, poaching has gradually increased again and we see
28   boats that are anchored with fishing gear over the side and so
29   it’s not -- We don’t think we’re misrepresenting what they’re
30   doing.   That peaked in 2007.   I would say we saw more boats
31   fishing in 2007 than we did in any of the previous years,
32   unfortunately.
33
34   I guess we’ll just wrap that up with that. There are a couple
35   of more slides, if the council is interested and the committee
36   is interested in seeing them, that touch on some of the gag
37   SEDAR information.   There’s five of them and would you like to
38   see those or would you like me to stop at this point?
39
40   CHAIRMAN MINTON:  I think we’ve got a lot of questions for you
41   guys and so we might be better off to go on to those questions.
42   Thank you.   That was a good presentation.    There’s a lot of
43   hands up already.
44
45   MS. WALKER:  When you talked about poaching and you identified
46   poaching as maybe one of the reasons why these closed areas
47   didn’t work and yet, you showed us graphs with Twin Ridges, I
48   think you called it, where fishing is allowed and that was the


                                      55
 1   only area that showed any level or increasing.
 2
 3   Can you help me understand how poaching on that area would
 4   affect it any more than Twin Ridges, which is allowed fishing
 5   year-round? It just doesn’t make sense to me.
 6
 7   DR. DAVID:   Any fishing in the MPA would be poaching, right?
 8   Almost no fishing on the open area would be poaching, except
 9   when it’s during the closed month, when you have closed it for
10   spawning aggregation protection. There’s several things -- The
11   only thing that should be driving down the populations in the
12   closed areas, from a fishing mortality standpoint, would be
13   poaching.
14
15   Outside of the closed areas, there’s legal fishing, but there’s
16   also recruitment rate changes. I can tell by the look on your
17   face that I’m not answering your question in the way that you
18   would like.
19
20   MS. WALKER:   The same thing is happening in Twin Ridges as in
21   Madison-Swanson, except that in Twin Ridges, people are actually
22   fishing there. When you talked about the boats that you saw in
23   the area and you mentioned some recreational boats, the National
24   Marine Fisheries Service allows trolling in those areas.    Were
25   you able to determine how many were trolling as opposed to
26   bottom fishing?
27
28   The one answer that I need more than anything is why are we
29   seeing a reduction in these closed areas due to poaching and
30   yet, we’re seeing level stock or increased stock in open areas
31   that are open year-round to fishing?
32
33   DR. GLEDHILL: First, in general, in the eastern Gulf of Mexico
34   there’s a decline.   There’s a decline everywhere. Twin Ridges
35   is a very small feature. It’s only about eight miles long and
36   it’s very narrow, less than five square kilometers, and gag
37   there are declining.    It was red snapper or red grouper that
38   might have been increasing toward the end, but there is a
39   general decrease everywhere in the Gulf of Mexico.
40
41   If you’re protecting things, if there were no poaching in a
42   protected area, you might expect them, rather than following
43   what the rest of the eastern Gulf of Mexico was doing, you would
44   expect the opposite. You would expect numbers to go up.
45
46   This has been shown again and again. It’s been shown especially
47   most recently with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary,
48   the closed areas where there are distinct increases in abundance


                                    56
 1   of many species that are targeted by fishermen within the
 2   protected areas and level or decreases outside of those areas.
 3   As far as why Twin Ridges is different for like red grouper, I
 4   can’t answer that. I don’t know.
 5
 6   MS. WALKER:   One other comment I wanted to make, Mr. Chairman,
 7   and this is the last one, is I don’t know what MRFSS says for
 8   Wave 4 on grouper, but I do know that off the west coast of
 9   Florida for Wave 4 that MRFSS reported a 62 percent increase in
10   landings of red snapper for recreational anglers, which
11   something is not right.
12
13   DR. SHIPP:   Both Chris and Andy, first of all, you know I’m a
14   real fan of fishery independent research and I just love this
15   kind of stuff, but I’m a little concerned about your comments on
16   all the species in the eastern Gulf trending down.
17
18   When I hear the word “trend”, I think multiyear trends. I think
19   in every instance, from 2001 on, if you started at the 2001
20   base, you would see the stocks higher in 2007 than in 2001.
21   Some of your stocks, your trend is just one year and some are
22   two.   Don’t you -- Let me put it this way.     I guess what I’m
23   saying is I’m really encouraging this to go on for three or five
24   or ten more years, so that we get a multiyear trend, rather than
25   just making conclusions based on one or two years.
26
27   DR. GLEDHILL:   Absolutely.   I think you’re right.     One data
28   point or two data points, a trend do not make, but from 2005,
29   2006, and 2007, they’re all sequentially lower than each other,
30   especially for gag, but you’re right that we need more years.
31   As far as assessing the MPA, what’s very disheartening is that
32   it’s the same trends within protected areas as areas that aren’t
33   protected.
34
35   MR. SIMPSON:   I’m not on your committee, but a question, Chris
36   and Andy.   Did you make any attempt to correlate trip tickets
37   and recreational data landings off of Florida for those
38   particular areas, to see if there’s a concomitant increase,
39   since there’s more poaching and more utilization of those closed
40   areas?
41
42   DR. GLEDHILL: No, I didn’t, but as far as I know, with the trip
43   tickets, the scale or the geographic --
44
45   DR. DAVID:   The statistical reporting zone is very large.
46
47   DR. GLEDHILL:   Yes, it’s very large.
48


                                     57
 1   DR. DAVID: You would have a very difficult time resolving where
 2   the landings were reported from.
 3
 4   MR. SIMPSON:   The answer is you haven’t?
 5
 6   DR. DAVID:   Correct, no.
 7
 8   MR. PERRET:    Chris and Andy, the effectiveness of MPAs, you
 9   mentioned several times they can be effective if the areas are
10   large enough. What’s large enough? If the reef area is so many
11   square kilometers, do the experts in this area feel that the
12   MPAs should be a certain percentage larger?   Just what are we
13   talking about when we say large enough?
14
15   DR. DAVID: It depends on the movements of the fish. Say if you
16   have a fish that never swims around an area any larger than that
17   table in the middle, clearly then if you protected an area of
18   the table plus three or four feet around it, that would be large
19   enough.   That fish would never be exposed to fishing pressure
20   and so you would protect him year after year. He would do his
21   thing and increase the population.
22
23   If that fish has a home range that he runs around in every year
24   that’s the size of the opening here between all the tables and
25   you protect an area of the small table plus two feet, he’ll be
26   protected at certain points of the year, at certain points of
27   his movements, but he swims back out and he’s vulnerable a lot.
28   You only have to catch him once to make him --
29
30   Large enough depends upon the demographic of the species you’re
31   after, what is its home range for the life stage that you’re
32   trying to protect.
33
34   DR. GLEDHILL:    There’s another issue here in affecting the
35   actual population dynamics of the entire stock and the general
36   theory of that is that the percentage of the habitat you would
37   want to set aside would be similar to what the percent spawning
38   potential ratio of that stock might be.      Jim Bohnsack keeps
39   mentioning 20 to 30 percent of the habitat, but, again, you look
40   at the percent SPR figures.
41
42   DR. DAVID:   If you look at the literature that we’ve referred
43   to, most of those papers have somewhere between 25 and 30 and
44   some as high as 40 or 50 percent of the habitat of a species
45   that was protected to have population level effects.
46
47   MR. PERRET:   If I understand you correctly, if we want an MPA
48   for bluefin tuna, we’re talking about the world oceans.


                                     58
 1
 2   DR. DAVID:   Half of it.
 3
 4   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   That would be real popular.
 5
 6   DR. DAVID:   Extremely popular.
 7
 8   MS. MORRIS:     I have a couple of comments and a couple of
 9   questions.   First, the questions. You showed us a close-up of
10   recreational fishing activity around Madison-Swanson, but you
11   didn’t give us a comparable image about commercial activity
12   around Madison-Swanson.
13
14   I’m looking at it in the slide and it’s little, but could you
15   just elaborate on the combination of your own experience doing
16   fieldwork and these flyovers that the University of Miami did,
17   characterize the commercial activity within Madison-Swanson?
18
19   DR. DAVID:   I would say the commercial was a little bit less
20   than the recreational this year. We didn’t pick the figure that
21   we showed from Steve’s slide to blow up to pick on one side or
22   the other.   We used it more as an example of spillover effect
23   rather than to show that one group or the other was fishing
24   inside more than the other.
25
26   In some information he sent us late Friday afternoon,
27   essentially what Steve says -- His analysis is the commercial
28   boats treat -- They fish in a way that makes the borders of the
29   MPA at Steamboat Lumps indistinguishable in the summertime.
30   Essentially, it’s worded in a somewhat awkward way. I’m sure it
31   will be in his final report, which he’ll provide to you.
32
33   The way the boats treated themselves along that habitat was not
34   any different than it would be if there were no MPAs.      Now,
35   that’s the commercial boats in the summer at Steamboat.
36
37   Commercial boats at Madison-Swanson, the MPA border was present
38   in the distribution of those boats.      For recreational boats,
39   they weren’t very -- There were few of them in Steamboat Lumps
40   and they did not fish -- They appeared to respect the borders of
41   the Steamboat Lumps.      The recreational boats could not be
42   distinguished.    Their distribution did not distinguish the
43   Madison-Swanson borders in either the summer or the winter.
44
45   DR. GLEDHILL:  I have one other comment about that slide that
46   you’re talking about.  A lot of that distribution is because
47   that ridge feature in the northeast section just continues to
48   the north and to the west.  They’re just following that ridge


                                       59
 1   line. It’s really good habitat for snappers and groupers. It’s
 2   more than just about spillover there.    It’s about habitat as
 3   well.
 4
 5   MS. MORRIS:  I have another question and then a comment.  The
 6   question is in other presentations we’ve heard from you all,
 7   you’re talked about the site fidelity of both gag and red
 8   snapper at Madison-Swanson.   My recollection of that is that
 9   there’s very strong site fidelity for the gags and the red
10   snapper. Could you elaborate on that?
11
12   DR. GLEDHILL:  I’ll let the man who does all that work answer
13   that. Chris Koenig, are you here?
14
15   MS. MORRIS:   He’s up later.   I’ll ask him when he’s up.
16
17   DR. GLEDHILL:   All that comes from Chris.
18
19   MS. MORRIS:   Then my comment.   The poaching has really been a
20   problem at Madison-Swanson and it seems like your comments
21   support that conclusion.   Am I wrong about that, that poaching
22   has been a problem at Madison-Swanson?
23
24   DR. DAVID:    We want to be clear that our observations are
25   anecdotal.   We don’t write down how many we see and we don’t
26   call enforcement.   We’re trying to stick strictly on counting
27   and measuring and locating the fish.
28
29   We see more boats in one day in 2007 than we did in 2004 during
30   the entire year, for example. When trends -- Even if it may be
31   a trend with two points -- When the change from zero boats in
32   one year to five or six boats in one day at the same time,
33   that’s a change that’s hard to miss and so we do see an increase
34   in recent years in people fishing out there where they shouldn’t
35   be and this is during the time of the year when there’s no
36   fishing whatsoever allowed.    Surface trolling is not allowed
37   between October and May and we were out there in February and
38   March.
39
40   MS. MORRIS: Finally, my comment is, as we all know, we now on
41   the commercial fleet have VMS and so we have an enforcement tool
42   that’s just come into play the spring of this year that we
43   haven’t had in this commercial fishery in the past and it’s a
44   key component towards testing whether this reserve idea works or
45   not.
46
47   Without that enforcement, obviously we can’t really test the
48   feasibility of the reserves for that goal and we have at least


                                      60
 1   anecdotal evidence, and some aerial photography evidence, that
 2   fishing has been taking place within the reserves.
 3
 4   MR. ATRAN:    You mentioned, when you described your sampling
 5   method, that it’s the camera type method and you indicated that
 6   you can’t do a real good job of separating males from females.
 7   One of the primary objectives of these two reserves was
 8   specifically   to  protect   the  male   population,   which   our
 9   understanding is they tend to stay offshore in these areas,
10   whereas   the   females   will   do   onshore/offshore    spawning
11   migrations.
12
13   Right now, I guess the females are making 95 percent plus of the
14   total population.     Since the females are only protected a
15   portion of the time, I really wouldn’t expect to see much
16   response if you’re just looking at a total population census.
17
18   Is there any way that you could add in the ability to
19   differentiate males from females and monitor specifically the
20   male population to see if there’s been any changes there,
21   perhaps a tagging study added on to this?
22
23   DR. DAVID:   To do it non-destructively would be difficult and
24   really, Chris Koenig’s work is probably better than ours.     We
25   don’t have -- NOAA won’t let us do some of the diving that he’s
26   able to do to catch those fish at the depths at which they exist
27   in Madison-Swanson and bring them to the surface without
28   significant barotrauma to cause their death.
29
30   We just can’t do that, but he’s doing it and doing it well and
31   so we don’t see any -- We think it’s better not to duplicate
32   efforts.   He has a handle on that and is addressing that well
33   and we’re trying to address a different question.    I think the
34   sex ratio issue is something that Chris Koenig is addressing.
35
36   DR. GLEDHILL:    One other thing, you just mentioned male sex
37   ratios and the gag that we observe, almost 40 percent of them, I
38   think about 40 percent, we see are copper bellied from the
39   video.   We certainly don’t believe there’s 40 percent male sex
40   ratio out there, but on the video, you can see about 40 percent
41   of them that are copper bellied.
42
43   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Thank you very much. We appreciate you taking
44   the time.   Since we just mentioned Felicia and Chris, I think
45   we’re ready to move into that report now. Thank you again.
46
47   MR. ATRAN: Just to let you know, there is a middle item there
48   that I was going to give on a memo that I received from Alex


                                     61
 1   Chester in response to some questions we put forward to him. In
 2   any event, that memo is now out of date, because the information
 3   we received, which was basically that they hadn’t worked up the
 4   2006 and the 2007 data yet, has been updated by the presentation
 5   that we just got and so I would suggest we just skip over that.
 6
 7   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Go ahead, Felicia.
 8
 9   DR. FELICIA COLEMAN:   Is all right if Chris goes first?
10
11   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Whatever you all want to do.
12
13   DR. CHRIS KOENIG: Many of you have seen some of the data that
14   I’m going to present here and so this is by way of review and
15   I’ve been asked to make it fairly quick and so I’m going to zip
16   through.
17
18   This is work that we’ve done    in Madison-Swanson and over about a
19   three-year period.   We did     a number of different things, but
20   I’ll go over the sex ratio     detail in fair detail and not just
21   simply the percentages that    are historical and the percentages
22   that are recent.
23
24   This is a catch I thought you would be interested in that was
25   given to me by a high-end charterboat fisherman, Danny
26   Tankersly, which a friend of his gave him, of a catch on
27   Madison-Swanson, on that lower ridge that Andy and Chris showed,
28   in about a half day’s fishing.      Most of those big fish are
29   warsaw and the other are gag.
30
31   Starting out on the shelf edge, that habitat is very important
32   for gag. All of our data indicate that they spawn on the shelf
33   edge exclusively. They typically don’t spawn any shallower than
34   about 140 feet of depth. Most of it is along the forty-fathom
35   break.
36
37   Larvae spend about six weeks in the plankton and they settle out
38   exclusively in estuaries. Sea grass appears to be the dominant
39   juvenile habitat. After about six months in the sea grass beds,
40   they move to shallow reefs and spend the remaining three to four
41   years on those reefs and then become entrained into the female
42   population.
43
44   During the spawning season or just prior to the spawning season,
45   the females move to these pre-aggregation sites, sort of staging
46   areas.   Those staging areas can be in fairly shallow water,
47   eighty feet or less, or way out to the shelf edge. The Florida
48   Middle Grounds are considered a staging area or pre-spawning


                                      62
 1   area for gag, as told to me by a lot of commercial fishermen.
 2
 3   They move out to the shelf edge and spawn with the males that
 4   remain out there. The males don’t go into shallow water, as far
 5   as we’re aware, and then a majority of them move back into the
 6   shelf edge after the spawning season is over.
 7
 8   What started a lot of this concern about the male reproductive
 9   issue was the sex ratio declines that were observed between the
10   1970s in a study that was done in the Gulf of Mexico and the
11   South Atlantic Council.  Both showed approximate percent males
12   that were 17 percent.
13
14   Then in the recent times, the late 1990s, studies were done that
15   showed that the sex ratio in the Gulf was 2 to 4 percent and 3
16   to 5 percent in the Atlantic and those sex ratios presumably
17   persist.
18
19   This just shows the estimate of fishing impact in the 1970s, or
20   when the historical data were taken, relative to recent.     You
21   can see it wasn’t zero and so the sex ratio was apparently being
22   affected even then, in the past times.     To give a little bit
23   more detail, the historical male/female size frequencies looked
24   like the upper panel in the past and now it looks like the lower
25   panel.
26
27   The vertical dashed line is actually the one meter line and so
28   you can see that the females are on average smaller than larger,
29   that hip of females that occurred then is not there and then the
30   male population is very low, as you can see in the lower panel.
31
32   Presented in a different way, what I did is I broke the year up
33   into three biologically relevant timeframes. December to March
34   is the aggregation period, including pre-spawning aggregation
35   and the spawning aggregation, and then April through July is the
36   post-spawning period.   It’s very important for a transitional
37   time in these fish and then August through November is the pre-
38   spawning period, when these fish appear to be fattening up for
39   the spawning season.
40
41   You can see the blue is the historical percent males in those
42   periods and the red is the recent percent males.    You can see
43   that there’s a jump during the post-spawning period in the
44   percent males and this is all the data that I could get from the
45   Gulf and the South Atlantic regions put together.    This is the
46   pattern that occurred.
47
48   If you look at the percent of the males that were in transition,


                                    63
 1   that is were half female and half male, on their way to becoming
 2   males, full-fledged reproductive males, again, the historical is
 3   the blue and the recent is the red. You can see that there’s a
 4   small amount of percentage of the males that are transitional
 5   during the December/March period and it jumps dramatically.
 6
 7   Those are significant differences between the historical and the
 8   present in the April through July post-spawning period and these
 9   are fairly large ends to show this is occurring.       Those are
10   significant, whereas historically, they weren’t significant.
11
12   If you look at the catch of males, I’ve got two data sources for
13   that.   Those are the upper two panels.   One is the seventeen-
14   year long log of a commercial fisherman who fished out of Panama
15   City and that shows a jump in the percent males during the post-
16   spawning period and then the second dataset was collected by
17   Alan Collins and his colleagues and published. That also shows
18   a jump in the catch of males, the number of males caught in that
19   post-spawning period.
20
21   Then what you see in the lower panel is the number of fishing
22   trips during those three periods and so the effort is
23   approximately equal, but there is a jump in the proportion of
24   males.
25
26   One of our main objectives in our work was to disentangle the
27   mechanism that was responsible for males being lost under
28   intense fishing pressure and it appeared that the more intense
29   the fishing pressure, the fewer the males in the population.
30   Madison-Swanson, that was one of our major objectives, at least
31   for this presentation. This is what I’m going to look at.
32
33   Others were home range, as we discussed before, and the third,
34   which we haven’t been able to really figure out in great detail,
35   is what that actually means in terms of reproduction.     That’s
36   the sixty-four-dollar question.
37
38   Along that lower ridge, which is the same one that Chris
39   Gledhill showed, you see all those numbers are spawning
40   aggregation sites.   The commercial fishermen, primarily, showed
41   me these spawning aggregation sites.         Since then, we’ve
42   discovered a number more. There’s about twenty in there.
43
44   We compared those spawning aggregation sites with the same type
45   of spawning aggregation sites outside the reserve for a
46   comparison of actual spawning aggregation sites and we learned a
47   fair amount from that.
48


                                    64
 1   In order to do this work, these fish were brought up from as
 2   shallow as about 180 feet to as deep as about 350 feet and the
 3   way to do that is, and the only way I’ve been able to figure out
 4   to do it, is to go down and vent the fish when the swim bladder
 5   gas about doubles in volume.
 6
 7   I vent them with a pole spear. I can’t get that video to work
 8   with this thing, but there’s a video there and I hit him with a
 9   pole spear and you can see the bubbles come out of the fish.
10   It’s very easy to do and so they’re vented before the damaging
11   effects of gas expansion occur and then we haul them to the
12   surface in these traps and then we do various types of sampling
13   there.
14
15   We tag them. We put in acoustic tags as well as standard tags.
16   We do gonad biopsies and we do genetic samples and spines and
17   rays. Now the spines and rays provide us aging data and we’ve
18   validated this by comparison with otoliths on some of the fish
19   that died.
20
21   This is a three-year-old gag, for example, and here’s a five-
22   year-old red snapper.   Again, it’s been verified by comparison
23   with otoliths, which have validated in other ways.
24
25   For acoustically tagged fish, we use these VEMCO receivers that
26   are put down at about a hundred feet below the surface on these
27   moorings and the base there, on the bottom, you can see an
28   anchor and then the black spot there on the line is the receiver
29   and this archives the presence of those individual fish that
30   were tagged over -- We usually sample them between three and six
31   months and then a sub-surface float and then a surface float, to
32   make it easier for us to find them.
33
34   I only included the male gag data here, because of time
35   constraints, and this is very difficult to see, particularly for
36   me. On the y-axis, you have number of detections per day. In
37   other words, these pingers, these acoustic devices that we put
38   into the body cavity of the fish, are putting out a certain
39   number of pings per day.
40
41   The maximum number of pings, you can see in the upper left-hand
42   corner of the graph, that cluster up there. It was right after
43   we tagged the fish.    The detection range of the receiver is a
44   quarter-mile radius from the spawning site.
45
46   The fewer the detections in a particular day, the lower a point
47   will be on that graph and so you can see that the fish hung
48   around virtually every day. It visited at least once a day for


                                    65
 1   over 90 percent of the days on that spawning site and this is
 2   the same thing true for that fish and this fish moved from one
 3   spawning site to another that was about a half-mile away and
 4   remained there for the duration.
 5
 6   This information then shows us that the males stay on those
 7   spawning aggregations year-round.  They may shift from one
 8   aggregation to another, but they maintain very close contact
 9   with those aggregations.
10
11   The largest migration in a male that we saw was a mile and so
12   the average home range is probably on the order of a quarter of
13   a mile. With the females, it’s a little larger. It’s probably
14   on the order of one to two miles, but we don’t have a lot of
15   data on females and so I don’t feel comfortable with that.
16
17   As I said, most of the females after the spawning season go back
18   in, but a large percentage stay out there. What we saw in terms
19   of sex ratio was the closure period, you can see from the arrow
20   in the baseline pointing up, that’s the time we started our
21   study. It was 2003, 2004, and 2005.
22
23   I got this from the Coast Guard representatives and they said
24   that during 2004 and 2005 the Coast Guard assets were devoted
25   completely, almost completely, to the effects of hurricanes,
26   Ivan in 2004 and in 2005, Katrina and Rita. There was virtually
27   no enforcement during those two periods of time and you can see
28   a decline in that proportion of males in the population.
29
30   As far as the mechanism, again, I’ve cut out a lot here, just to
31   get through this quickly, but the mechanism that we -- Our model
32   mechanism is that thee is a compensatory sex change, which you
33   can see from that one slide of transitional, and it responds to
34   the paucity of males in the population.
35
36   That sex change takes place only after the aggregation period.
37   Males remain on the aggregation sites all year-round and
38   fishermen fish those same aggregation sites, along with other
39   sites, all year-round.
40
41   The net effect is that males and transitionals are fished
42   outside the spawning season, that is after the spawning season,
43   and not necessarily during the spawning season.       Even the
44   transitional that have not fully formed into males then, we
45   believe, and we’re going to get more data to back that up, hang
46   around those spawning sites year-round and so they too are
47   caught up. That’s basically the model that we’re working with,
48   based upon the data that we have.


                                    66
 1
 2   With other species, we’ve found -- The red is inside the reserve
 3   and the blue is outside the reserve, comparing those sites.
 4   Again, with validated ages, we’ve got significantly larger
 5   fishes and significantly higher ages in the reserve relative to
 6   outside.
 7
 8   With red snapper, the same thing is true.       Those lower two
 9   panels, age on the left and size on the right, show that not
10   only is red snapper significantly larger in the reserve than it
11   is outside the reserve over those three years, but it’s
12   significantly increasing. That was a NOVA analysis.
13
14   Scamp shows a significant increase over our initial study,
15   whereas outside it doesn’t, and amberjack does not show any
16   change, which you would expect with amberjack.    With gag, we
17   showed no significant changes inside and out and this brings me
18   to the poaching issue.
19
20   Poaching on those sites -- Every time we saw poachers, we saw
21   them on those fifteen aggregation sites.    The vast majority of
22   the commercial poachers targeted gag and so it’s not surprising
23   to me that we couldn’t show a difference between inside and out.
24
25   DR. GLEDHILL:    What are the three years?
26
27   DR. KOENIG:   2003, 2004, and 2005.
28
29   MS. WALKER: Thank you for coming. I’ve got two questions. Why
30   doesn’t it show a decline in males outside the area of Madison-
31   Swanson when it shows a decline of 8 percent to 1 percent inside
32   Madison-Swanson?
33
34   DR. KOENIG:   Those are not significant differences.    When you
35   get down into the 5 percent range, those aren’t significant. In
36   other words, the variation in that percentage at that number is
37   not -- They’re essentially the same thing. The only significant
38   difference we saw was in 2003.
39
40   MS. WALKER: I want to make a comment first. I noticed on the
41   red snapper when you were saying the age was higher in Madison-
42   Swanson, am I correct in that the fish was a year older? It was
43   five instead of four?
44
45   DR. KOENIG:   That was an average value of a year older and I
46   think ten centimeters larger.
47
48   MS. WALKER:     Do you have the data separated out so that we could


                                       67
 1   see just the Gulf? I noted that most of your slides were Gulf
 2   and South Atlantic and do you have the Gulf?
 3
 4   DR. KOENIG:   Only the overall slide that showed the changes in
 5   sex ratio from the historical to the present were both the Gulf
 6   and South Atlantic. The transitionals were in the Gulf.
 7
 8   MS. WALKER:   Do you have those slides in just the Gulf, the
 9   beginning ones that you showed?
10
11   DR. KOENIG: It’s even worse. It’s even more dramatic. Yes, I
12   don’t have them in this, because I was told to cut this short,
13   but I just wanted to show you that it was a generalized,
14   regional phenomenon.
15
16   MS. WALKER: I know that I was hopeful about what was going to
17   happen in the Madison-Swanson and I’ve certainly supported it
18   and I guess I would have to ask you, are you disappointed?
19
20   DR. KOENIG: I’m very -- You can see what effort I went through
21   and you saw the ends there. That’s the number of fish. Look at
22   there.   For gag, four-hundred-and-sixty-something, and each one
23   of those fish had to be personally punctured in order to get
24   them to the surface and back to the bottom alive.
25
26   That’s an immense amount of effort, let me tell you, diving on
27   every one of those traps and running ten traps a day.   It’s a
28   tremendous amount of effort and I could not get -- Every year,
29   from the beginning of that study to now, I give a presentation
30   to the Mobile Air Training Center for the Coast Guard and tell
31   them how important it is to enforce these things, at least as
32   long as I can get these data and find out if these things are
33   working as we expect them to work or as we think they might
34   work.
35
36   You know we’ve got fishermen supporting us and we’ve got high-
37   end recreational charterboat fishermen, Danny Tankersly and
38   Chuck Gilford. Those people have been in that area for a long,
39   long time and they’re top-end people, million-dollar boats.
40   They are all for keeping that reserve closed, because they
41   believe it will work, but without the enforcement, we can’t
42   evaluate that question properly.
43
44   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Other questions?
45
46   MR. COLUMBUS BROWN:   Chris, has there been any evidence of any
47   of the fish that you’ve tagged being removed by fishermen?
48


                                     68
 1   DR. KOENIG: Yes. There was a certain type of tag that I put in
 2   some fish, because I wanted to see spawning frequency.     Many
 3   reef fish undergo a spawning assent when they spawn.        Red
 4   grouper and gag, I put this pinger in that indicates depth and
 5   it pings every five to fifteen seconds. In other words, it puts
 6   out a separate signal every five to fifteen seconds and random
 7   within that range.
 8
 9   I tagged a red grouper with that tag and the next day, when I
10   took the receiver a month later and downloaded it, that fish
11   went straight to the surface. That was about as direct evidence
12   as -- That was in 200 feet of water. Yes, that fish was caught.
13   There was other -- We find pinger fish missing at times, but we
14   can’t -- That’s only circumstantial that it was caught. I can’t
15   show it, but that was about as direct as we could see.
16
17   MR. GILL:    Chris, a question on transitionals.  What is the
18   duration for the time of say a gag to transition and does that
19   vary amongst groupers?
20
21   DR. KOENIG: It varies tremendously among fish, from as short as
22   -- Even serranids, bass fishes, from as short as two weeks to
23   probably as long as months. I think gag is at the other end of
24   that.    I think individuals that are induced to undergo
25   transition, however a social mechanism is used to do that,
26   probably are not spawning as males during that season, but only
27   spawn as males the following season.
28
29   CHAIRMAN   MINTON:     Chris,   thank   you   very   much.   Go   ahead,
30   Felicia.
31
32   MS. MORRIS:     Mr. Chairman, we don’t have either of these
33   PowerPoint in our background materials or do we? No? Okay.
34
35   CHAIRMAN MINTON:     Can we get these, Steve?
36
37   MR. ATRAN:   I think we can get them.   Do we have them on our
38   current -- Do you have them? We have a shared drive. If I can
39   get them, I can put them on our network drive and let you folks
40   know how to access that, if you want.
41
42   DR. COLEMAN:   I guess a change of gears a little bit from the
43   talks that you’ve heard, just to talk a little bit about the
44   ecological and behavioral information that we’ve been getting on
45   red grouper, particularly in Steamboat Lumps, but to some extent
46   in Madison-Swanson.
47
48   The kinds of things we wanted to know were focused on the life


                                        69
 1   cycle, what were their habitat preferences, where were they
 2   spawning and under what conditions, and what effect did fishing
 3   have on communities that were associated with red grouper? The
 4   reason we asked that question will become clearer in a minute.
 5
 6   This is a -- Obviously red grouper has a very similar life cycle
 7   to most reef fish, in that there is a planktonic larval stage,
 8   but the juveniles -- Red grouper inshore are on hard bottom and
 9   not really in sea grass, unless they’re also associated with
10   rock and sea grass. They stay inshore until they mature, and so
11   this is four or five years, and then they migrate offshore and
12   spawn in relatively small groups.
13
14   We were looking at red grouper both in Madison-Swanson and in
15   Steamboat Lumps.   This sidescan image on the right is a fairly
16   large area in Steamboat Lumps and all the little dots on there,
17   each one is a red grouper hole.
18
19   We thought initially that they were springs and that’s what we
20   were looking for and then when we ground-truthed them using a
21   manned submersible, we found out that each one of those holes
22   had a red-grouper associated with it. That’s a red grouper and
23   each hole was about five meters in diameter and about two meters
24   deep. That little sub would go right smack down into the hole
25   and in the bottom is a series of carbonate rocks.
26
27   We’ve found out what we think is a lekking system, that is that
28   the main hole is occupied by a male red grouper and there are
29   satellite holes around it, each of which contains a female. The
30   female is attracted to the male, who is in the -- We’re calling
31   it an excavation now.    Originally, we just called them pits,
32   because we weren’t sure what was going on.
33
34   They actually produce a unique spawning sound and if you look at
35   the oscillogram on the top, and it’s mimicked in the spectrogram
36   on the bottom, but the sound that they produce has two pulses in
37   the beginning, followed by a long tonal signal that grades down
38   into that broader band you see over to the right.       That’s a
39   female on the left and the fish on the right is a male.
40
41   I wanted to show you some of the pictures of the fish actually
42   excavating the bottom, but this isn’t going at all.    What we
43   found when we looked at the habitat is that typically it was a
44   flat veneer of sand that had solution holes in it.
45
46   They’re just big holes in the bottom that have a high percentage
47   of carbonate rock, the rock in the places where the red grouper
48   lives, but nowhere else on the bottom, were covered with


                                    70
 1   crustose coralline algae and sponges and sea fans and a whole
 2   really diverse community and we started wondering about how that
 3   would happen and those kinds of habitats offshore.
 4
 5   Each one of the holes seemed to be excavated by a resident
 6   grouper.   One of the things that we did was using the manned
 7   submersible, we had a front-mounted camera and bottom-mounted
 8   camera and did systematic surveys over the bottom to find out
 9   where there were differences in abundance and diversity.
10
11   In any of the places that we found had active red grouper living
12   in them, both the abundance that’s in the top graph and the
13   diversity in the bottom graph was higher, both in Madison-
14   Swanson and Steamboat Lumps, in those areas within which a red
15   grouper was actively manipulating habitat.
16
17   We decided that it was very difficult to do anything
18   manipulative in 300 feet of water with a manned submersible and
19   so we went to the Keys, where the juveniles are, and we worked
20   in a couple of places to start playing around with these fish.
21   The first question we asked was could these fish actually
22   excavate habitat.
23
24   We caged individual fish over a place in the bottom that we knew
25   had a solution hole below it. We knew that just by sticking a
26   rod down into the sand.    The cage has no bottom in it and we
27   left the fish for -- I think this one may have been overnight,
28   but we did this with a series of fish and they basically just
29   pulled all the sand out to the outside of the cage and the fish
30   was completely underground when we came back and they would do
31   this repeatedly.
32
33   The next question we wanted to find out is will they do that in
34   their homes and so what we did was we dumped charcoal -- We
35   surveyed this whole expanse of bottom and we dumped charcoal
36   that was the same density and size as the sand particles and we
37   used charcoal so that we could see it on the white sand.
38
39   We dumped it into each hole that had a red grouper in it and the
40   red grouper would in fact move all of the charcoal out of the
41   hole.   Then we would ask the question of does anybody else in
42   the hole do it or are they the only diggers?
43
44   What we did then was we removed red grouper from all the holes.
45   Actually, we left half of them with red grouper in and half
46   without and went back and redid the charcoal experiment and the
47   only ones that moved anything out were the ones that had red
48   grouper in them.


                                    71
 1
 2   We also set up a series of cameras on a bunch of different
 3   holes, cameras that were set right on the hole, three meters
 4   away, and six meters away, and monitored activity on a bunch of
 5   different sites to see where diversity and abundance of fish was
 6   highest.     They were always highest associated with the
 7   structures that red grouper had made.
 8
 9   This just shows the size of the excavation. There was actually
10   a positive linear relationship between the size of the
11   excavation and the diversity of species associated with it.
12
13   The excavation on the left is -- This is actually in Florida
14   Bay, if you can believe that.    When I mentioned this to Billy
15   Causey, he was surprised to see coral heads that size. We think
16   these are multigenerational structures.    In other words, once
17   there’s a good red grouper hole established, when that fish
18   matures and moves out, somebody else moves in just like that.
19   You could actually tell the good real estate from the bad real
20   estate after a while.
21
22   Then what happens when you have actively maintaining the habitat
23   -- It is a hole and there are currents there and it just fills
24   in with sand and everything disappears, all of the sponges and
25   all the anemones and all of the diversity declines in the
26   absence of active manipulation by red grouper.
27
28   We know that red grouper at all life stages are diggers. Chris
29   has reared these guys in captivity and the minute they settle
30   out, at about twenty millimeters, those little suckers start
31   digging their way under shells and rocks and anything they can
32   in the aquarium. We saw it first actively in the juveniles in
33   the Keys and then more recently, offshore.
34
35   One of the reasons that we’re even interested in this question -
36   - This is something that ecologists ask all the time, what kinds
37   of things create biodiversity or ensure that there are high
38   levels of biodiversity?
39
40   Whenever you have species that are competing for space and food,
41   there’s increased diversity and predator/prey interactions also
42   do that. Red groupers role in habitats is, one, they are a top-
43   level predator, primarily on invertebrates, and so they may be
44   acting to drive biodiversity from that function alone, but
45   they’re also excavators and they could be ecosystem engineers,
46   which I’ll explain in a minute, but we don’t know the answer to
47   that question yet.
48


                                    72
 1   What is an ecosystem engineer? It’s a species that either as a
 2   result of their behavior or their morphology create more complex
 3   habitat and by creating more complex habitat, that results in
 4   greater biodiversity.
 5
 6   Everybody who has ever messed around in the ocean knows that the
 7   more structure you have, the greater the diversity.      Just to
 8   sort of clarify what kind of organisms do things like that,
 9   beavers are probably the ecosystem engineers of all time. They
10   chew down trees and they dam up rivers.     There are lots of --
11   People may not like what beavers do, but ecologically, there is
12   an important function of the dams in terms of water clarity,
13   retention of sediment and all sorts of other features.
14
15   The marine habitat engineers that we know about, there are a
16   suite of them that manipulate habitat from their behavior.
17   Gobies will just move little sand particles out of their little
18   tunnels that they make and triggerfish dig out beds to lay eggs
19   in.
20
21   Tilefish did these deep holes on the shelf edge and there’s a
22   whole suite of commensal species that live in those tilefish
23   burrows, including things like yellowedge grouper, and there are
24   also a suite of cleaners that are associated with the tilefish
25   in the burrows and we saw the same thing with red grouper.
26
27   We saw a number of invertebrates and other fish species that
28   were acting as cleaners and so in a tilefish burrow, the burrow
29   itself influences the biogeochemistry of the sediments and it
30   also increases community diversity and serves as cleaning
31   stations.
32
33   Then there are a suite of organisms that engineer habitat by
34   their shapes. There’s a morphological effect. We all know the
35   morphological effects of sea grass in terms of decreasing
36   erosion and oysters with water clarification. The benefits, for
37   instance, of an oyster reef -- In the top, that’s oyster from
38   Chesapeake Bay that have been harvested and the little picture
39   on the bottom left is what was an active oyster reef and on the
40   right is what happens in the absence of those reefs.
41
42   Reefs like sea grass beds and all provide refuge for suites of
43   other species, they increase productivity in the regions, they
44   increase diversity, and their removal can have direct effects on
45   things like water quality and increasing turbidity, causing sea
46   grass to die off when not enough light penetrates and so forth
47   and so on.
48


                                    73
 1   This is why we’re interested in this for red grouper if they are
 2   in fact -- They are, in fact, excavating habitat.            The
 3   advantages for them is when they build this cone or this pit and
 4   they’re exposing rock at the bottom of the pit, there’s a whole
 5   suite of species that come there.
 6
 7   It attracts fish in to eat and it attracts things in for
 8   shelter.     They’re attracting their own food and we’ve
 9   demonstrated that they attract mates, because the females are
10   coming into the male’s excavation, and they appear, at least in
11   shallow water, to serve as cleaning stations.
12
13   There’s some advantages for other species by the red grouper’s
14   excavation activity and that is that it serves for settlement
15   sites for corals and sponges and a whole suite of other species.
16   They may be serving as nursery sites for other fish.
17
18   We’ve seen juvenile vermilion and red snapper associated with
19   these holes and our concerns are that in areas where red grouper
20   is overfished that not only do you have a population decline of
21   the organism that’s being fished, but there’s also the potential
22   for a biodiversity decline and decline in other fishery species
23   if in fact this is serving as nursery habitat.
24
25   In this case, it’s not just fish being attracted to the
26   structure, the red grouper. They’re creating the structure that
27   increases the diversity of the system.    Anyway, that’s why we
28   like working in Steamboat Lumps. Are there any questions?
29
30   MS. WALKER:   Felicia, I can remember back a few years ago that
31   the area that you identified as Steamboat Lumps was not the
32   actual Steamboat Lumps that the council adopted.    I think the
33   latitude and longitude lines were wrong.
34
35   DR. COLEMAN:    I don’t know anything about that.
36
37   MS. WALKER:    Wayne, do you remember?
38
39   EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SWINGLE:    That’s correct.   You’re correct.
40
41   MS. WALKER:   My question is since it wasn’t the area that you
42   identified though, do you still believe that this area has been
43   helpful to you?
44
45   DR. COLEMAN: It’s helpful in the sense that it made us go out
46   there and look at this and learn an enormous amount about red
47   grouper behavior and what the potential follow-on effects are
48   from overfishing.


                                      74
 1
 2   I don’t know where it was supposed to be. If it was supposed to
 3   capture more gag habitat, it didn’t.        I think that Chris
 4   Gledhill and Andy David have demonstrated that and so I don’t
 5   really know how to answer your question.      There’s some very
 6   interesting turf in this area and if you hadn’t chosen that area
 7   and hadn’t found an area that had those pits, we would never
 8   have looked at this problem. I think it was fortuitous. If it
 9   was in fact the wrong site, so be it.
10
11   Here’s some red grouper coming out of the holes right there and
12   they scoop this stuff up in their mouths and just blast it out
13   their gills and their mouths. What you’re seeing is not a loop.
14   This is five different fish that we looked at on the bottom that
15   are cleaning out the sediments.
16
17   We worked with a geologist on what the rocks     are in the bottom
18   of these holes and they appear to be some       sort of limestone
19   aggregate and as the fish starts digging out,   a lot of that rock
20   is falling down into the bottom of the hole.     It’s sort of like
21   antlions. We called them doodlebugs.
22
23   It’s sort of the same sort of thing in terms of aggregating the
24   rock, but when you go over -- When we started doing the
25   transects and seeing the diversity that’s associated with those
26   rocks, it was really -- I see you nodding madly and yes, you’ve
27   seen this stuff, too. It’s pretty remarkable. Are there other
28   questions?
29
30   DR. GLEDHILL:   I know, Felicia, that you do work in the Middle
31   Ground as well. Do you see some of these same features in the
32   Middle Ground, because there’s a lot of red grouper there.
33
34   DR. COLEMAN:   We haven’t really done this kind of work in the
35   Middle Grounds. The stuff that we did in the Middle Grounds was
36   specifically to go back and take a snapshot of some work that
37   had been done there in the 1970s.
38
39   There had been a tremendous amount of MMS work in that area and
40   we were just trying to get a sense of whether we thought there
41   were problems with the coral bleaching or any other kind of
42   thing like that and the snapshot we took, we really didn’t see
43   that many big reef fish, but we had a really good assessment on
44   the sponges and corals and algae and stuff.     We didn’t -- We
45   would like to go back there and look more, but we don’t have
46   those data from the Middle Grounds. Are there other questions?
47
48   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Anything else?   Thank you all very much.    We


                                    75
 1   appreciate it. We’re now at Ecosystem Modeling Workshop Report,
 2   Tab B, Number 10, Mr. Carl Walters. Thank you for bearing with
 3   us all afternoon.
 4
 5                  ECOSYSTEM MODELING WORKSHOP REPORT
 6
 7   DR. CARL WALTERS: What I’m going to do with you real quickly --
 8   I know it’s been a long day and I’m sure you’re tired and I’m
 9   tired and I’ve got to drive to Baton Rouge and so I’m going to
10   try to whip through this quick.
11
12   I’m going to review for you some work that the Ecosystem SSC has
13   sponsored, looking at this question of whether we can develop
14   ecosystem models, computer simulations, like stock assessment
15   models, but with lots of species in them, to look at some issues
16   of ecosystem management.
17
18   The driving idea behind this is that you guys have enough
19   trouble dealing with some of your single species assessment and
20   regulatory issues and you start looking at ecosystem management
21   issues and lots more nastiness comes out. The idea is maybe we
22   can use these models to do a little troubleshooting on things
23   that could go wrong with ecosystem management policies.
24
25   Our approach to this, instead of sitting around and doing a
26   bunch of standard scientist naval gazing, was we said if we’re
27   going to find out if these models work, we’ll just build one and
28   make some predictions with it and see if the predictions make
29   any sense.
30
31   We used a software that’s being widely used around the world for
32   ecosystem food web analysis, a thing called Ecopath/Ecosim. We
33   fit that model to historical time trend data from the Gulf of
34   Mexico to make sure it behaves when we try to replay the history
35   of Gulf abundances of various species, it behaves like the best
36   understanding we have from stock assessments.
37
38   We evaluated it and improved it through a number of agonizing
39   workshop steps, something like a mini SEDAR process, and then we
40   looked at a set of policy issues, ecosystem-related policy
41   issues.
42
43   We’re getting pretty good now with software like Ecopath at
44   looking at fairly complex food webs. This is a look at the main
45   species that we put in the food web model for the Gulf of Mexico
46   and it ranges from basic production processes, algae and sea
47   grass and so on at the bottom of the food web, right up to the
48   major large piscivores fishes at the top of the web.


                                    76
 1
 2   We do fairly detailed population dynamics models, like used in
 3   single species assessment for the species up at the top of the
 4   food web, and took a look at what’s going on.        We pulled
 5   together an awful lot of historical data on trends of things,
 6   biomasses and feeding habits, in order to produce all those
 7   arrows that represents who eats who in the system.
 8
 9   We had to look at lots and lots of stomach content data and so
10   on and we look at growth patterns to estimate productivity and
11   turnover and mortality rates, everything we could stick in to
12   understand how those food web linkages play out in terms of the
13   dynamics of the various species and how they interact with one
14   another.
15
16   What we’ve found right away is that we could get this model to
17   behave very much like the single species stock assessments. You
18   see some solid black lines there that are time trends from stock
19   assessments or surveys for major species, like mullet and red
20   drum and so on, and then the little lighter lines are the
21   ecosystem model running forward from 1950 to 2006, with no
22   driving information except fishing mortality.
23
24   It’s doing a pretty good job of tracking the abundance trends
25   for major species, mainly because those abundance trends are
26   largely driven by fishing efforts and fishing mortalities.
27
28   Then we pulled together a large number of other time trend
29   series from SEAMAP data and so on and we showed that the model
30   does a pretty good job of reproducing patterns of abundance
31   change in some of the non-harvested species as well.
32
33   When you look at one of these ecosystem models as they’re being
34   developed around the world today, there’s three things that are
35   different about them from single species stock assessment
36   models.   The first thing is things up at the top of the food
37   web, like mackerels and groupers and so on, behave in the
38   ecosystem models pretty much the same way.    We make the same
39   predictions about how they’ll respond to fishing and other
40   disturbances as we get from single species stock assessment
41   models. There’s no big surprises.
42
43   When we look at mid-trophic level creatures, in the middle of
44   the food web, like menhaden and shrimp, the ecosystem models
45   generally behave very differently under fishing than do single
46   species models.
47
48   For   example,   we   often   predict   increases   in   abundance   of


                                       77
 1   creatures in the middle of the food chain, despite increases in
 2   their fishing mortality. Menhaden have become more abundant in
 3   the Gulf while the fishing mortality rate went up, because the
 4   predation mortality rates went way down as a lot of their
 5   predators were reduced.
 6
 7   In the middle of the food web, there’s complicated stuff going
 8   on. The other thing is that these models predict big impacts or
 9   changes in basic productivity of ecosystems down at the bottom.
10   Nutrient loading patterns and habitat alteration predict big
11   impacts up at the top of the food chain, a big amplification.
12
13   A 20 percent change in nutrient loading to the Gulf of Mexico
14   can cause a 50 percent change in the abundance of fish,
15   something that surprises the fish biologists.   We think, after
16   doing that fitting exercise, that we can use it to address some
17   policy questions.
18
19   The test questions we’ve looked at to date include bycatch
20   reduction in the shrimp fishery, some marine enhancement program
21   questions,   impacts  of   fisheries  on   small   pelagics  for
22   productivity of large species in the system, MPA effects, and
23   we’ve looked at a number of ongoing changes the council can’t
24   control, like the hypoxic area at the mouth of the Mississippi
25   and changes in nutrient loading and toxic algae bloom effects as
26   well.
27
28   This here was a slide written by the SSC as a committee. This
29   is what you get when you have a committee do a PowerPoint slide.
30   The bottom line of what this ecosystem model says about shrimp
31   bycatch reduction is that trawling probably caused a variety of
32   bottom fish species, like Atlantic croaker, to decline a lot.
33
34   Those species will rebound under bycatch reduction, almost
35   certainly.   Those rebounds in the bycatch species are going to
36   cause a decrease of as much as 30 percent in shrimp production
37   and so the notion that bycatch reduction isn’t going to impact
38   the shrimp fishery, we’re fairly certain, is dead wrong. There
39   will be a negative impact on the shrimp fishery and that impact
40   could be very large.
41
42   Basically, what will happen is the bycatch species that get
43   protected through bycatch reduction are going to end up eating
44   the shrimp before you catch them.
45
46   There’s also a scary possibility that the buildup in bycatch
47   species   may  reduce red  snapper  juvenile  survival rate,
48   preventing recovery of the stock.  The policies now aimed at


                                    78
 1   bycatch reduction in the shrimp fishery in order to protect
 2   juvenile red snappers may backfire and have just the opposite
 3   effect. It may cause declining red snapper recruitment.
 4
 5   Why can’t we predict the impacts of bycatch reduction? There’s
 6   two problems. One problem is how much of those bycatch species
 7   are going to recover and what will the impact of that recovery
 8   be on shrimp and juvenile red snapper?    We don’t know how to
 9   tune our ecosystem model to answer those questions exactly,
10   because we don’t know how much the bycatch species declined in
11   the first place.
12
13   We don’t know whether predation mortality on shrimp is limited
14   by how many predators already eat them or by how shrimp behave
15   and so it could be that even when there’s a lot more predators
16   out there, under bycatch reduction, that the shrimp won’t suffer
17   much higher mortality, because they’re pretty good at hiding
18   from predators already.    They’re the favorite food of every
19   predator in the sea.
20
21   We also don’t know how much impact recovery of the bycatch
22   species will have on red snapper. An important point from this
23   talk is that we can’t model our way out of that. The only way
24   we’re going to gain the knowledge as to whether red snapper are
25   going to benefit from bycatch reduction is to look at how their
26   abundance in juvenile survival performs at higher abundances of
27   competitors and predators.
28
29   One other thing we looked at is marine enhancement programs. We
30   put stocking programs for red drum and trout, as have developed
31   in Texas and are proposed all the way around the Gulf, into the
32   model.   Some of us think that marine enhancement programs are
33   potentially one of the biggest threats to marine ecosystems
34   around North America, because of our ability to grow almost
35   everything in hatcheries these days.
36
37   The bottom line from the model runs on that is that successful
38   stocking programs, that means if you can get the little buggers
39   out there alive from hatcheries, will result in severe
40   competition between wild and hatchery fish, probably resulting
41   in no net increase in total production and yield.
42
43   The folks here from British Columbia today have seen that in
44   spades with our coho salmon. We doubled the number of juvenile
45   coho salmon going to sea out in front of your place and we see
46   no increase in yield at all. It just costs a bundle to produce
47   the fish in hatcheries today that nature was producing for us in
48   the first place.


                                    79
 1
 2   There’s a strong recommendation that the council ought to be
 3   closely watching the initiatives for marine enhancement going on
 4   around the Gulf and demanding that any efforts that do occur are
 5   done under careful experimental programs, where you can turn the
 6   damn things off if they go bad on you.
 7
 8   One thing that was kind of nice is there was concerns raised to
 9   the SSC about whether fisheries like the menhaden fishery are
10   impairing the ability of the Gulf to grow large piscivores. If
11   the fishery is catching all those menhaden, does that mean that
12   you can’t grow as many mackerel and snappers and so on?
13
14   The bottom line is that model predictions say that collapse of
15   the menhaden stocks -- If we go in and fish it right to
16   extinction in the computer model, it has virtually no impact on
17   major predatory species like mackerel, red drum, trout, groupers
18   and snappers.
19
20   What’s going on out there basically -- Those of you that are
21   fishermen that have looked at stomachs of fish like red drum and
22   mackerel and that know this already, is that the Gulf is an
23   incredibly diverse ecosystem down at the level of the small
24   fishes.
25
26   If the reds don’t have any menhaden to eat, there will be
27   something else.   They’ll go eat crabs or they’ll go eat some
28   other small fish and that diversity, which we include in the
29   model calculations, say that if you knock out any one of these
30   pelagic species that it’s not going to have a big impact on the
31   predators, including even the mullet stock.
32
33   If there were widespread development of harvest of small
34   species, other than menhaden, for example to feed the emerging
35   aquaculture industry for cobia and so on around the Gulf, that
36   would have a catastrophic impact on the capacity of the Gulf to
37   grow large species, like mackerels and so on.
38
39   The council probably needs to be developing policies relative to
40   forage fish species in some context like Alaska, where they have
41   a simple flat ban on development of fisheries on the forage
42   species. It just isn’t worth going after those little guys when
43   there’s so many valuable fisheries that they little guys
44   support.
45
46   One of the more controversial results we had, but you’ve already
47   heard it from at least Chris and Felicia, is that existing MPAs
48   on the Florida Shelf are not going to be an effective tool for


                                    80
 1   regulation of fishing impacts on the groupers and snappers on
 2   the shelf.
 3
 4   Very much larger cross-shelf MPAs would be needed to protect a
 5   range of species from fishing suffered at various parts of their
 6   life cycle. The basic problem is that protecting a fish during
 7   spawning doesn’t protect females or younger fish from harvesting
 8   during seasonal migration at other times of the year.    It does
 9   help to save some males and it may result in improvement in the
10   sex ratio.
11
12   That Madison-Swanson experiment is a key test of the effects of
13   sex ratio change in poaching in the MPAs and so I’m just saying
14   that if you really wanted to use MPAs as a fishery management
15   tool, you’ve got to be looking at radically larger MPA areas
16   than are out there now. It doesn’t mean that those experimental
17   studies out in the Northwest Florida Shelf aren’t a very good
18   idea.
19
20   Right now, in order for us to properly evaluate MPA effects and
21   MPA requirement sizes, there’s a really critical need for better
22   benthic habitat mapping across the shelf for accurately
23   georeferenced logbook data on fishing effort, catch, and
24   discards and for extensive tagging programs.
25
26   Let me put in a little word here.      You guys saw the British
27   Columbia fellows talking and they showed you that horrid, nasty
28   logbook they’ve got to fill out now and I’m one of the
29   scientists that uses that logbook information and I can tell you
30   it’s precious to us.
31
32   We take their detailed logbooks that give us spatially
33   referenced information on the distribution of fish and we can
34   map the distribution of the major stocks of fish off of B.C. and
35   look at their seasonal and interannual movements and changes in
36   distributions and once we can map those abundances using the
37   information from the fishermen. We can go in and site MPAs and
38   other kinds of protection schemes in a way that minimizes impact
39   on the fishing and also doesn’t backfire.
40
41   One of the problems with MPAs that its proponents don’t like to
42   talk about is that fishermen don’t go away when you put in an
43   MPA. They go somewhere else. When they go somewhere else, they
44   increase their impact in that other place.
45
46   Another place may have biodiversity problems even more severe
47   than in the place that’s being protected and so it’s really easy
48   for an MPA to do a lot more harm than good and that’s what we


                                    81
 1   found using the logbook records from the B.C. fishermen about
 2   most MPA siting proposals off the B.C. coast. They do more harm
 3   than good.
 4
 5   I strongly urge you to listen to at least that lesson from the
 6   British Columbia guys, is we         need much better spatial
 7   information on fishing around the Gulf of Mexico before we can
 8   evaluate a lot of models and before we can evaluate a lot of
 9   management strategies like protected areas properly.
10
11   Just a quick scan through here at some of the environmental
12   changes that we’ve looked at with the model.        Toxic algae
13   blooms, there’s lots of big publicity about it and mostly
14   restricted to the west coast of Florida and a couple other areas
15   around the Gulf.
16
17   The best evidence from the modeling and analysis of the cause of
18   those blooms is that they’re going to continue to occur.    They
19   may not even occur at rates that vary much with anthropogenic
20   nutrient loading.
21
22   They’ll increase and negatively impact overall ecosystem
23   production and carrying capacity in the areas where they occur,
24   but when we look at the Gulf ecosystem as a whole, they’re not
25   going to have that large of an impact on the Gulf. The places
26   where they can occur, based on historical occurrence, they’re
27   not that extensive and not likely to be much more extensive.
28
29   Another big worry right around here is increases in the hypoxic
30   area at the mouth of the Mississippi.     What the models say is
31   that those increases in hypoxic area have contributed to an
32   overall shift that’s occurring in the Gulf ecosystem, from what
33   we call a benthic to pelagic production web.
34
35   The Gulf is shifting from having a big part of its fish
36   production concentrated in the bottom fishes to being more
37   concentrated in pelagic fishes, like the mackerel. The mackerel
38   are thriving in the Gulf, while some of the other demersal
39   stocks are going down.
40
41   That kind of shift from benthic to pelagic production is going
42   on in every major ecosystem in the world right now and hypoxic
43   area effects are going to speed that up, by making bottom areas
44   and benthic community areas uninhabitable.
45
46   This is, at least so far, a localized effect. When we look at
47   the Gulf as a whole, that hypoxic area around the mouth of the
48   Mississippi kind of looks pretty trivial. It’s about two model


                                    82
 1   grid squares.
 2
 3   One thing you really ought to be watching out for, especially
 4   when you’re looking at results being presented to you from
 5   single species stock assessment models, is that the Gulf of
 6   Mexico gets about 85 percent of its nutrient loading that
 7   supports its primary production and its fishes from the
 8   Mississippi River.
 9
10   That nutrient loading, people talk about more and more nutrients
11   coming into the Mississippi and that’s not true.        Nutrient
12   loading from the Mississippi peaked in the mid-1980s and has
13   been declining since then.      Changes in composition of the
14   nutrient loading in recent years, but total loading is lower now
15   and it’s probably going to continue to decline, due to land
16   management changes in the Mississippi basin.
17
18   What that means from a fisheries management point of view is
19   that the carrying capacity in the Gulf for some of these fish is
20   going to drop. For pelagics like menhaden, for sure it’s going
21   to drop and it may drop for some of the large piscivores. That
22   means that the stock assessment results, which are largely based
23   on data through the 1970s to the 2000 period, may not be
24   representative of future productivity for those stocks.
25
26   The model fits tell us that overall productivity of the Gulf is
27   declining in terms of overall abundances of just about
28   everything except a few of the pelagic species.
29
30   Should the council take any of these results seriously? There’s
31   some obvious data gaps that limit the credibility of the
32   calculations.   In particular, there’s inadequate data on the
33   food web structure on who eats who, diet composition data
34   particularly.
35
36   Who it is that eats the small juvenile fish that are the
37   recruitment   to  the   major   stocks,   we  don’t   have good
38   understanding of what the predation mortality patterns are on
39   small snappers or groupers or red drum or anything else.     We
40   don’t know who the major predators are on those species.   They
41   don’t turn up in fish stomachs. They get digested too fast and
42   they’re too small a proportion of the predator diets.
43
44   Another thing is that we don’t have long-term trend      data for
45   non-harvested species and without that trend data,      we can’t
46   answer questions like how some of those species are      going to
47   respond to bycatch reduction and we don’t really have   very good
48   bycatch data for most of the fishery.


                                    83
 1
 2   We can’t really say how much production is being lost through
 3   bycatch as it is and we can’t fill those gaps through timely
 4   monitoring, or at least we can’t recover the information that
 5   wasn’t gathered back in the 1950s and 1960s, when some of the
 6   major fishery developments took place.
 7
 8   If we could turn the clock back, we could build you a lot better
 9   ecosystem model, is the bottom line.    We can’t turn the clock
10   back and we have three major recommendations to you and the
11   third of those I think probably is the most important and
12   controversial.
13
14   One of them is, Number 1, is you ought to continue to fund us to
15   do more ecosystem model development. There’s a self-serving one
16   if you ever saw it. Another thing is we must get better data if
17   we’re going to, as scientists, serve you better in this
18   ecosystem analysis business, as well as single species stock
19   assessments.
20
21   We need better diet composition data and we critically need to
22   have much better logbook information coming in from the fishery,
23   so that we can map the distributions of the stocks and their
24   impacts, as I mentioned a minute ago.
25
26   There needs to be some basic work on calibration of the main
27   ecosystem program that gives trend indices and that’s now the
28   SEAMAP survey program.    There’s serious calibration problems
29   with the data from that program that limit its use in our
30   modeling and assessment.
31
32   We need habitat mapping and bycatch assessment, but I think this
33   last one, the bottom line, is the most important recommendation
34   that we make to you.    That is that given that we can’t model
35   away these huge uncertainties about particularly bycatch
36   reduction impact in the Gulf, we could write a report and tell
37   you that we had modeled them away, like some of the single
38   species stock assessments do, and it would be a damn lie.
39
40   We can’t do it and we can’t get the data. What we recommend to
41   you instead is that absent our ability to make useful scientific
42   predictions, you really ought to be adopting an experimental
43   management approach in the Gulf.
44
45   The way to find out whether or not bycatch reduction works is
46   not to implement it Gulf-wide and then have it backfire on you,
47   but the way to find out if it works is to set up a series of
48   experimental areas that have bycatch reduction and other areas


                                    84
 1   that   don’t  have   it   and   make   side-by-side   experimental
 2   comparisons of those areas.
 3
 4   Learn from field trials of your policies rather than putting the
 5   policies in place everywhere and learning the hard way, much
 6   more expensively, down the way.        This is called adaptive
 7   management and it’s a very simple concept.          Every other
 8   discipline except fisheries uses it routinely.
 9
10   When people in agriculture come up with a new idea for how to
11   grow more of this and that, they don’t go put it on every field
12   in North America, but they go try it. They try it in carefully
13   managed experimental areas and look for things that can go wrong
14   and then expand the policies out to larger scales that do work
15   in the small area trials.
16
17   I don’t know why in the world all fisheries management isn’t
18   done that way. I guess it’s partly because as scientists we’ve
19   been lying to you about what we can tell you with the data that
20   we have available.
21
22   It’s much more honest of us to say we just can’t answer your
23   question and you’re much better off to proceed experimentally to
24   learn what’s going on.    That concludes the formal presentation
25   and I’ll be glad to answer questions.
26
27   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Outstanding. Thank you very much.      Are there
28   any questions? I know there will be a bunch.
29
30   MR. PERRET:     I’ve got three questions.      Thank you.    You
31   mentioned several times about the model used in various parts of
32   the world.     What countries are the leaders in ecosystem
33   management in fisheries or is the United States on the front end
34   or are we lagging behind?
35
36   DR. WALTERS: Definitely the largest investments -- The two main
37   areas where big investments are being made are in the North Sea,
38   in the EU countries, where it’s been going on for the longest
39   time, and in the United States, particularly in -- There’s this
40   nasty thing about the United States, that everybody is jealous
41   of Alaska.    The Alaskans are way ahead of everybody else in
42   this.   Ecosystem model development and use in policy is best
43   developed in the Alaska Council.
44
45   MR. PERRET:   The second question is we are questioned about
46   current data, it’s wrong and it’s this and it’s that, yet early
47   on in your presentation, you had graphs, and I think they went
48   back to 1950, if my eyesight was right. What abundance data or


                                     85
 1   biological data did you use in the 1950s and do you indeed think
 2   that data was -- Obviously it was the best you had, but --
 3
 4   DR. WALTERS:   A lot of it was what you call WAGs, a wild guess.
 5
 6   MR. PERRET: My final question is it really surprises me on the
 7   recommendations and so on that you mentioned quite a bit about
 8   nutrient loading and the dead zone and so on and so forth and
 9   all I see is habitat mapping, but it seems to me one of the most
10   critical measures in the Gulf is so many of our species are
11   estuarine-dependent and we have had, and continue to have,
12   tremendous vegetated wetland loss. We’ve had development and so
13   on and so forth, but I don’t see that in the models, except for
14   Model 1.
15
16   DR. WALTERS:   You’re absolutely right.   If you do Number 1 up
17   there and spend some more money on us, that’s the next priority.
18   In fact, I’m driving straight from here to Baton Rouge to start
19   looking at how we can incorporate a lot better look at estuarine
20   dependence in these models.
21
22   I live in Cedar Key and I’m an avid red fisherman, red drum
23   fisherman, and there’s an estuary-dependent species if there
24   ever was one.    I watch my catches go up and down with the
25   rainfall and the flow of the Suwannee River.      There’s no
26   question at all about how critical this is.
27
28   I think one of the things you can expect here under climate
29   change and growing water problems in this region is declining
30   flows of water to those estuaries, as well as the subsidence
31   issues with the salt marshes.
32
33   Those declining flows are going to cause substantial declines in
34   productivity of estuarine-dependent species. I think that those
35   declines are reflected in -- When we fit the model, we have to
36   assume some kind of overall decline in reproductive success,
37   which we haven’t been able to explain where it was, but you’ve
38   pinpointed where it probably has been, exactly.    We just model
39   it as a change in productivity, without being specific about
40   exactly where it came from.
41
42   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Other questions?   Excellent presentation and
43   thank you again. We appreciate it. We need to make a decision
44   on a recommendation to council as to whether we go with this
45   particular thing. I think their recommendation, obviously, was
46   to continue on.     Is that the committee’s viewpoint too, to
47   continue to try to bump this thing along and see what we come up
48   with?


                                     86
 1
 2   MS. MORRIS: There’s something in these results for everyone to
 3   hate and so what’s really challenging about it is that it’s
 4   framing issues differently than we usually see them. There was
 5   someone on the Reef Fish SSC who made the comment in the meeting
 6   back in October that a really strong reason to continue with
 7   this work is because the results are so completely opposite of
 8   what our assumptions have been.
 9
10   Because of that, they really do bear further investigation and
11   so I think we should continue to support development of the
12   model and I’m not sure how -- I can’t see how down the road it’s
13   going to intersect with our regular fishery management tasks,
14   but I think it’s important to develop the tool and tune it up
15   and think about the indications that it’s presenting to us.
16
17   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   I agree with that totally.
18
19   MR. GILL:   I also agree, but I also think we’re driven by if
20   we’re going to be serious about getting into ecosystem
21   management, then we need to figure out how we’re going to do it
22   and this is the thing we’re working on and we need to continue
23   on and see whether it’s helpful or not.
24
25   MR. ATRAN:     Along those lines, a couple other specific
26   recommendations that the Ecosystem SSC made that are in the
27   report, and Carl didn’t explicitly state them, was to perhaps
28   continue to have these workshops, perhaps a couple of times per
29   year.
30
31   It might have to be on a reduced basis, because we no longer
32   have the pilot funds that we had for these two workshops and
33   also, with respect to trying to integrate ecosystem management
34   into our current management approach, the SSC had expressed an
35   interest in trying to develop a SEDAR-like process for
36   evaluating management proposals from an ecosystem perspective.
37   Those are two directions we possibly could go in the next year
38   or two, if the council is interested in that approach.
39
40   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Do we have a recommendation?     Do we need a
41   motion or just by consensus?        Is there any objection to
42   recommending that we continue on with this?    Wayne, we’ll need
43   kind of an idea budget-wise what we could support meeting-wise.
44
45   EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SWINGLE:  We had enough carryover, I think
46   $71,000, that we can proceed on with at least another workshop
47   and maybe more than that.
48


                                     87
 1   CHAIRMAN MINTON:     It appears that maybe we can keep the
 2   participants in contact with each other and when we have some
 3   information that would warrant putting together another meeting,
 4   it would be appropriate.
 5
 6   MS. WALKER:   What about some of the studies that he mentioned,
 7   some of the small studies on BRDs and things like that? Are we
 8   just going to get them together so they can talk some more about
 9   ecosystem and the data that we need that we don’t have or -- Is
10   it more important for us to go forward and try to address some
11   of these things that they think will improve the data that’s
12   there?
13
14   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Would you settle for yes?    I think, if you
15   look at his example of how Alaska is ahead, there’s a reason for
16   that.   It’s a simpler system, but it’s been much more well
17   funded. We need more money and then we need good people to help
18   us direct those funds into areas where we can get the
19   information.
20
21   As we all well know, we can sit here ten years from now and say
22   this is what we needed and we still don’t have it. I think it’s
23   kind of a combination of asking the group to further detail out
24   the types of information that we will need and then us to help
25   make recommendations. Roy, maybe MARFIN or some of those other
26   areas, that we could use to start development of procurement of
27   this type of stuff.
28
29   DR. CRABTREE: I would be interested, if we can get these folks
30   back together, to hear some more specific ideas on a workable
31   way we could test this idea they have with BRDs and bycatch and
32   all of that.    I just don’t know the scale and how long and
33   exactly how you would do it. I would be interested to see if it
34   was something realistically we could try to test.
35
36   MS. MORRIS:    In the written report that we have with our
37   briefing materials, there is a list of data needs that makes
38   about six or seven points. These are all things that we know.
39   They converge with our single species and essential fish
40   habitat.
41
42   We’ve articulated that we need better mapping of bottom
43   conditions and things like that and it would be very helpful to
44   have logbooks for all of our fisheries and spatial information
45   to be entered into those logbooks. I think those data needs are
46   convergent with things we know we’ve needed before.
47
48   Maybe trying to organize these ideas into a MARFIN proposal or a


                                    88
 1   congressional earmark suggestion, adding the ecosystem modeling
 2   value to these other desires that we’ve already articulated for
 3   this kind of thing, would be something that the council could
 4   develop as a proposal.
 5
 6   In addition to continuing to fund the ecosystem workshops, I
 7   think pulling together a proposal for the kind of funding that
 8   Alaska has been able to get, because of Senator Stevens, to
 9   assemble this data that would really make our management work a
10   lot more effective is something we should be pursuing.
11
12   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Any other comments?   Thank you, Julie.   Are
13   there any other comments? I think we can go to council with a
14   recommendation -- We’ll pull together those different points and
15   move those forward and we’ll just have a by-consensus
16   recommendation that we not only move forward, but we help
17   continue to flesh out the different points and then also start
18   looking at avenues to possibly fund some of these things.     It
19   looks like we recess now.
20
21   MS. MORRIS:   Could you preview for us what we’re doing in the
22   morning and the sequence? I just want to make sure the sequence
23   makes sense.
24
25   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Right now, we’ll be going through 30B at kick-
26   off at eight o’clock and that’s just basically going through
27   what we’ve already accepted and then any final recommendations
28   and then selecting public hearing sites. The allocation issues
29   on red snapper -- Is Assane here?
30
31   MR. KENNEDY: What is the question that you’re asking on the red
32   snapper allocation?
33
34   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Number 8.
35
36   MR. KENNEDY:   It won’t be too long, I don’t think.    It’s the
37   first time you’ve seen that document.
38
39   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Then final action on 30A, which is the gray
40   triggerfish and greater amberjack.   That will probably take a
41   while. Then, if we get to it, goliath grouper. My gut feeling
42   is that’s going to be problematic and then we’ve got the Other
43   Business thing with Roy. I think we’ve got a full plate, until
44   at least noon. Does anyone want to add anything to that?
45
46   MS. WALKER:   I just want to ask a question of Dr. Crabtree,
47   because I heard a nasty rumor that we may not be able to take
48   final action on Amendment 30A.


                                    89
 1
 2   DR. CRABTREE:    We have not published the draft environmental
 3   impact statement.    I will advise you and I believe General
 4   Counsel will advise you that we should not do that and right
 5   now, we need to get the DEIS revisions made and cleared by
 6   General Counsel and get it the EPA by December the 7th so that we
 7   can come back in January and take final action.
 8
 9   CHAIRMAN MINTON:     We can   still   go   through   and   polish   the
10   document and get it ready.
11
12   DR. CRABTREE:   Yes, I think there is a lot of work to be done
13   and that’s been partly why we haven’t gotten it finished.    I
14   think there are a lot of issues to be resolved.
15
16   CHAIRMAN MINTON: With that, we’ll recess until eight o’clock in
17   the morning. We’ll see everybody bright-eyed and sun-shiny.
18
19   (Whereupon, the meeting recessed at 5:30 o’clock p.m., October
20   29, 2007.)
21
22                                 - - -
23
24                           October 30, 2007
25
26                        TUESDAY MORNING SESSION
27
28                                 - - -
29
30   The Reef Fish Committee of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management
31   Council reconvened in the Camellia Ballroom of the Beau Rivage,
32   Biloxi, Mississippi, Tuesday morning, October 30, 2007, and was
33   called to order at 8:00 o’clock a.m. by Chairman Vernon Minton.
34
35   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Let’s get the Reef Fish Committee back to
36   order, please.   We have a quorum.     We recessed yesterday at
37   about 5:30 and we’re back here today and we’ll take up Item VII,
38   Draft Reef Fish Amendment 30B, Red Grouper/Gag, and that’s Tab
39   B, Number 11. Revisions to the Draft Amendment, Mr. Atran.
40
41   MR. ATRAN:   Amendment 30B, we still consider this to be in an
42   options paper stage, but we’ve been working on putting together
43   the environment effects sections and the other sections in here.
44   There’s some question, and you’re going to have to help us out
45   on discussion, as to whether or not we would be able to stick to
46   a time table that would allow us to go to public hearings
47   probably in early January, in order to take final action in
48   January, or whether we should target April for taking final


                                     90
 1   actions.
 2
 3   Since the same IPT is working on both 30A and 30B and there’s
 4   still work to do on both of those, it would be a very tight
 5   schedule if we were to try to go for final action in January on
 6   30B. I don’t think it’s impossible, but it would be very, very
 7   tight and there would be no margin for error.
 8
 9   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Roy, what’s your feelings on it?
10
11   DR. CRABTREE:    I think I agree with Steve that it would be
12   difficult to meet final action in January, because we would have
13   to have the DEIS filed with the EPA by December the 7th and it
14   really depends on how quickly we all come into agreement with
15   what we want to do and what changes we need to make to the
16   document.
17
18   We are under some statutory requirements to get this done and we
19   are late on them, but I think right now my biggest emphasis is
20   on let’s make sure we do it right and make sure we follow the
21   process properly, rather than one meeting.
22
23   I think we certainly have good reason for why we are late on
24   this one, because of the issues with the science and the
25   corrections and changes that were made. We didn’t really have
26   the final assessment runs, I think, until almost our June
27   meeting last time.
28
29   I think   the main thing we do is we keep moving this forward as
30   best we   can and keep making progress, but we do need to move as
31   quickly   as possible, but I agree with Steve that March is the --
32   I guess    it’s an April meeting is the more likely scenario and
33   that, I   think we really have to make.
34
35   CHAIRMAN MINTON: I think that’s wise. Let’s try to move ahead
36   in a prudent yet expeditious manner, realizing that possibly not
37   going to be there, but let’s get as much done as we can and
38   again, try to get a good, complete document.     With that, I’m
39   going to turn it back to Steve and we’ll start going through the
40   amendment.
41
42              DRAFT REEF FISH AMENDMENT 30B (RED GROUPER/GAG)
43
44   MR. ATRAN:    I’m going to start then with Action 1 in the
45   amendment, which begins on page 17 in your handout or on your
46   computer.   This is Action 1, Gag Thresholds and Benchmarks.
47   There’s no change from the last time you saw this.
48


                                      91
 1   Alternative 1 is the no action alternative, which would leave
 2   minimum stock size threshold at our pre-SFA level of 20 percent
 3   SPR, which actually could be an acceptable threshold under the
 4   Sustainable Fisheries Act.   It works out to be just slightly
 5   above 50 percent of BMSY, which is the absolutely lowest
 6   threshold we can go to.
 7
 8   The maximum fishing mortality threshold, which is overfishing,
 9   is set at F30 percent SPR.      That was accepted in our 1999
10   Generic SFA Act and optimum yield, right now, is set at the
11   yield equivalent to a fishing mortality rate at 20 percent SPR
12   and that simply is not acceptable, because that would require a
13   fishing mortality rate equivalent to an overfishing rate in
14   order to achieve optimum yield.
15
16   Alternative 2 and Alternative 3 are identical, except for the
17   biological baseline that’s used for them.    Alternative 2 uses
18   maximum yield per recruit as its baseline and Alternative 3 uses
19   30 percent SPR as its baseline.
20
21   In the case of the gag stock assessment, the thresholds
22   associated with maximum yield per recruit ended up being the
23   same as thresholds associated with actual estimates of MSY.
24   Alternative 2 gives thresholds that are actually equivalent to
25   using MSY as our basis, rather than a proxy, although we are
26   calling it a proxy of Fmax.
27
28   Alternative 2 would set the fishing mortality threshold equal to
29   Fmax as the proxy for FMSY and in this case, equal to FMSY, and
30   then it would have three options for setting the minimum stock
31   size threshold, using the formula one minus M times SSBmax,
32   which with an actual mortality rate of 0.14, that would be 0.86
33   times the MSY level.
34
35   Option B would set it at 0.75 times that level and Option C
36   would set it at 0.5, 50 percent, of that level, Option C being
37   the absolute minimum that we’re allowed to go under the National
38   Standard Guidelines.
39
40   Then we have three options for setting optimum yield, set it at
41   either 60 percent, 75 percent or 90 percent of the Fmax level.
42   The NMFS technical guidance document that was published after
43   the National Standard Guidelines came out recommends that the
44   one minus M times SSB formula be the basis for the minimum stock
45   size threshold and that 75 percent of Fmax be the basis for the
46   optimum yield threshold.
47
48   Since you last saw this -- It’s not in this section of the


                                    92
 1   document, but in the environmental impacts section, there’s a
 2   discussion of some additional analysis that the Science Center
 3   did to try to examine the probability of entering an overfished
 4   state under some of the combinations of these thresholds.
 5
 6   What they did was, assuming that OY is set at 75 percent of Fmax
 7   for the options for setting the overfished threshold, MSST, if
 8   it’s set at that one minus M times SSB level, they estimated
 9   that there is a 20 to 28 percent probability that the stock
10   could drop below its overfished threshold.
11
12   If the minimum stock size threshold is set at 0.75 times SSBmax,
13   there would be less than a 2 percent probability and if it’s set
14   at 50 percent of SSBmax, less than 1 percent probability.    The
15   lower that number we go with, the less probability we have of
16   having to deal with an overfished stock, but if we do end up in
17   an overfished condition, the deeper the hole will be that we
18   need to dig ourselves out of.
19
20   As I said, Alternative 3 is the same as Alternative 2, except
21   that it uses 30 percent SPR instead of maximum yield per recruit
22   as the basis for these thresholds. On page 20, I have a set of
23   tables to show where some of these thresholds stand in terms of
24   their numerical equivalents.
25
26   30 percent SPR is equivalent to F equals 0.27, whereas Fmax is
27   equivalent to 0.20.    Using Fmax as the basis rather than 30
28   percent would be a little bit more conservative. I think that’s
29   about it for there. Do you want to take questions or comments
30   on sections as we go by them?
31
32   CHAIRMAN MINTON: I think that’s the best way. We’ve done that
33   in the past like that and it keeps everybody fresh on it. With
34   that, we’ll stop there and get questions or comments or
35   recommendations.
36
37   DR. CRABTREE:    If you recall back to a couple of previous
38   meetings, I had raised concerns with some of these long-lived
39   fishes that the natural mortality rate was low and we were
40   setting the MSST, the overfished threshold, very close to the
41   target and I was concerned that just natural fluctuations in
42   recruitment could end up triggering an overfished condition.
43
44   That’s the basis of the analysis that Clay Porch and the Science
45   Center did, was to try to simulate if we were managing the stock
46   properly what’s the chance that we would just, due to natural
47   fluctuations, drop below the minimum stock size threshold.
48


                                    93
 1   It works out that the probability, even when we’re at the           one
 2   minus M times BMSY, is quite low and so I don’t think I have        any
 3   of those concerns anymore and it appears to me that setting         the
 4   MSST at one minus M times BMSY, which I think we’ve done            for
 5   most everything, seems to be a reasonable way to proceed.
 6
 7   I would note that the SSC reviewed these alternatives and
 8   recommended Alternative 2 as the most appropriate and I think
 9   that does reflect the recommendations that came out of SEDAR in
10   terms of Fmax.   I would be willing to move, Mr. Chairman, that
11   we adopt Alternative 2 with Sub-Option A as our preferred
12   alternative.
13
14   CHAIRMAN MINTON:      There’s a motion on the floor.       Is there a
15   second?
16
17   MS. WALKER:   Second.
18
19   CHAIRMAN MINTON:     Second by Ms. Walker.   Is there discussion?
20
21   DR. CRABTREE: I guess I would also include Sub-Option E in my
22   motion as well, if my seconder is in agreement with that. That
23   sets the OY level at 75 percent of Fmax.
24
25   CHAIRMAN MINTON:     Ms. Walker, are you okay with that?
26
27   MS. WALKER:   Yes.
28
29   CHAIRMAN MINTON:     Now is there discussion?
30
31   MR. ATRAN: One thing I just wanted to point out is both our AP
32   and our SSC have reviewed this and have recommendations in the
33   briefing book.    I don’t know if you want me and Stu to go
34   through those as we do each action or if you want us to do this
35   at the end of the document and then decide whether or not you
36   want to change these motions based upon their recommendations.
37
38   CHAIRMAN MINTON: I would rather have them upfront. I think if
39   we’re going to start making motions, we certainly need to have
40   them before us before we come in and make motions and come back.
41   I think we’re okay with this, because we do have the
42   recommendations of both of those for this particular bevy of
43   alternatives. Is that correct? I know the SSC is correct and
44   it is right with the AP, too?
45
46   MR. ATRAN:   It’s correct for the SSC.          For the AP, I need to
47   check them right now.
48


                                       94
 1   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   While he’s checking that, is there any further
 2   discussion?
 3
 4   MS. MORRIS: This is just a process question. We are going to
 5   go through and choose preferred alternatives, even though we’re
 6   not at the point of having a fully fleshed out document?
 7
 8   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   I’ve looked at it and what we don’t have is
 9   some of the boilerplate stuff, like the history and that, but
10   other than that, I think we’re in pretty good shape and at least
11   it kind of gives staff direction as to where we’re headed with
12   this.
13
14   I would like to, if we can, to go through this as much as
15   possible.    We’ll try to frontload discussions with Steve’s
16   presentation on the SSC and AP and then I’ll open it back up for
17   recommendations.   If we don’t have any, then we move forward
18   without a preferred.
19
20   MR. ATRAN:    The Reef Fish AP had     the   same   recommendation,
21   Alternative 2, Sub-Options A and E.
22
23   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    I thought that was right.       We are in good
24   shape there and so carry on.
25
26   MR. ATRAN:   The next section is Action 2, which is on page 21.
27   This is --
28
29   CHAIRMAN MINTON: We need to vote on this motion.      The motion is
30   on the board. Is there objection to the motion?       Hearing none,
31   the motion passes.
32
33   MR. ATRAN:    Now Action 2 on page 21, which is Red Grouper
34   Minimum Stock Size Threshold. This action was included only in
35   the event that the council decided to use an MSST for gag other
36   than one minus M. That’s the current MSST for red grouper and
37   if the council did select something different for gag, it would
38   give you the opportunity to do a compatible type minimum stock
39   size threshold for red grouper.
40
41   Right now, the alternatives are no action, red grouper remains
42   at an MSST of one minus M times SSBMSY. Alternative 2 would set
43   it at 75 percent of SSBMSY and Alternative 3 is 50 percent of
44   SSBMSY.
45
46   Since right now your preferred alternative for gag is the same
47   as the existing parameter for red grouper, a no action
48   alternative would probably be the most appropriate here, or even


                                     95
 1   removing the section from the amendment.
 2
 3   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   What’s the recommendation of the SSC and AP?
 4
 5   MR. GILL:   The Reef Fish AP recommended Alternative 1.
 6
 7   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   The SSC did not have one?
 8
 9   MR. TEEHAN:    The SSC didn’t have one and, Steve, could you
10   enlighten us on when exactly in the 30B process the SSC lost its
11   quorum, because I think it’s right about now, as far as any
12   further recommendations, isn’t it?
13
14   MR. ATRAN: I believe you’re correct. I would have to go back
15   in my original notes, but as I recall, they did 30A.       They
16   interrupted 30A to discuss goliath grouper and by the time they
17   got to 30B, they were losing the quorum.
18
19   DR. CRABTREE:   The analysis that the Center did was done for
20   both gag and red grouper and the results were very similar for
21   each. I think I’m comfortable with where we are right now for
22   red grouper.   I would move that we remove Action 2 from the
23   amendment to the Considered but Rejected.      I don’t believe
24   there’s any need for us to revisit this issue.
25
26   MS. WALKER:   Second.
27
28   CHAIRMAN MINTON: There’s a motion on the floor with a second by
29   Ms. Walker. Is there discussion?
30
31   MR. ATRAN: Just as a quick clarification, in the SSC report for
32   this section, there is a consensus motion that the SSC has no
33   objection to Alternative 1, status quo.
34
35   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Any further discussion?   Hearing none, any
36   objection to the motion? The motion carries without objection.
37
38   MR. ATRAN: Action 3 begins on page 22 and that is setting the
39   gag total allowable catch.       Aside from the no action
40   alternative, which is not to set a TAC, we have four other
41   alternatives.
42
43   Alternatives 2 and 3 would set TAC based upon an Fmax threshold
44   and Alternatives 4 and 5 would set it based upon a --
45   Alternatives 2 and 3 would set the TAC based upon an OY
46   threshold and Alternatives 4 and 5 would set it based upon an
47   MSY or whatever we’re using for our MSY proxy threshold.
48


                                     96
 1   The difference is that Alternative 2 would change the TAC on an
 2   annual basis for the first five years and at the end of that
 3   period of time, we would presumably have a new stock assessment
 4   to let us know what the additional TACs would be going forward.
 5   If we didn’t get that stock assessment, we would just hold the
 6   TAC at year five until we get that assessment.
 7
 8   Alternative 3 would change the TAC every three years. It would
 9   start out with the 2008 level and hold that until 2011 and then
10   change it to whatever the 2011 TAC would have been under an
11   annual increase and hold that for three years.
12
13   On the bottom of page 23, Table 2.3.1, there’s a table that
14   shows what the TACs would be under each of these alternatives if
15   TACs were based upon FOY being 75 percent of Fmax. On page 24,
16   there’s a table that is the same table, but it bases the TACs on
17   30 percent SPR instead of Fmax.
18
19   Basically, the question is whether     to use Fmax or 30 percent
20   SPR. You’ve already decided to use     Fmax as the preferred proxy
21   for thresholds and then the other      question is whether to do
22   annual changes in TAC or do changes    every three years, which is
23   slightly more conservative.
24
25   CHAIRMAN MINTON: What was the recommendation of the SSC or did
26   they get this far?
27
28   MR. ATRAN:   No, they did.   The SSC states that Alternative 2,
29   which is -- Let me make sure I’m on the right one here.
30   Alternative 2 seems to be too stringent.     That’s the annual
31   changes,   while  Alternative   3  is   not  stringent  enough.
32   Therefore, no proposed alternative is preferred by the panel.
33   The AP recommended setting TAC on a yearly basis, based upon
34   Fmax. That would be Alternative 2. I’m looking at Table 2.3.1
35   on page 23.
36
37   MR. GILL: Steve, I believe the AP recommended Alternative 4 and
38   not Alternative 2.
39
40   MR. KENNEDY:   That’s correct.   They recommended Alternative 4.
41
42   MS. MORRIS: The way Magnuson has been reauthorized, they place
43   the responsibility with the SSC for giving us a very strong
44   recommendation on what TAC and catch should be and so I wish
45   that we could get the SSC to give us a clear, strong
46   recommendation on what TAC should be.
47
48   Maybe there needs to be some feedback to the SSC about that.       If


                                      97
 1   I look at Alternative 2 and Alternative 3, it seems like the SSC
 2   has said that 2 and 3 are what we should work with and they
 3   would like to see something intermediate.     According to Bill
 4   Teehan, they didn’t have a quorum when they made this
 5   recommendation.
 6
 7   Looking at Table 2.3.1, it seems like 2 and 3 have the same
 8   result at the end of the six-year period in terms of the average
 9   -- Isn’t that right? One just allows an increase every year and
10   the other allows this three-year stepped increases.
11
12   I’m having trouble -- I think the important part of the SSC’s
13   advice is that we should use FOY as the basis for setting TAC
14   rather than Fmax, but I can’t really differentiate between 2 and
15   3 and I have the feeling that in the past we’ve always used --
16
17   We’ve preferred the three-year stepped increase as a kind of
18   business management model, so people can know what the TAC is
19   going to be for a series of years, and so I’m leaning in that
20   direction, but if somebody could explain to me really closely
21   what the differences are between 2 and 3, that would be helpful.
22
23   MR. ATRAN:    I’m going a little bit from memory on the SSC
24   meeting here and so Bill might need to help me out, but as I
25   recall, the question was they were looking at the TACs based on
26   OY versus the TACs based on MSY and I need to clarify what I
27   said before.     They felt the TACs based on OY were too
28   restrictive and those based on MSY were too lenient.
29
30   There was a little bit of this discussion about whether or not
31   to recommend something in between and they decided not to make
32   that recommendation.
33
34   As far as whether to do an annual change versus a three-year
35   stepped, they thought that was just a management decision within
36   the recommended TAC and was not something that they really felt
37   they needed to make a recommendation on.
38
39   MS. WALKER:    Steve, my best recollection is when we did the
40   three-year steps that we averaged the three years and I’ve
41   noticed on all of these that we’ve used actually the lowest year
42   and can you explain to me why?
43
44   MR. ATRAN:   We only used an average for one of our previous
45   attempts at a rebuilding plan.   I think that was our first or
46   second attempt at doing a red snapper rebuilding plan under SFA,
47   when we were doing five-year steps, and we tried to average
48   them.


                                    98
 1
 2   Everything else, we have used the first year, the lowest TAC,
 3   and part of the reason for that is that if we were to use the
 4   average TAC, that would mean in year one of that three-year step
 5   that we would be overfishing. That simply would not be workable
 6   under the current requirements for not exceeding overfishing
 7   thresholds.
 8
 9   MS. WALKER:   The only way that we can obtain optimum yield for
10   the fishery then is to do it on either Alternative 2 or
11   Alternative 4, where we set an annual TAC?
12
13   MR. ATRAN: That, I believe, is the thinking of the SSC and our
14   IPT team. Another thing that we were considering is that since
15   we don’t have a quota or an absolute cutoff on the recreational
16   sector that as the stock rebuilds that keeping the same
17   recreational management measures is probably going to result in
18   more pounds of fish being landed each year. An annual increase
19   in TAC could help to accommodate that, whereas holding it steady
20   might create some problems in year two and three of a stepped
21   increase.
22
23   MS. WALKER: Steve, then it’s more conservative for us to adopt
24   an annual TAC, rather than set it at three years? Is that what
25   I’m hearing?
26
27   MR. ATRAN: No, the way it’s set right now, which is to set each
28   three-year segment at the first year’s TAC, that would be more
29   conservative, but it would probably be easier to keep the
30   recreational sector within its allowance if we did annual
31   increases.
32
33   DR. CRABTREE: I think it would be helpful to think of this in
34   the context of annual catch limits and accountability mechanisms
35   and those requirements, which are going to be facing us very
36   quickly.
37
38   Optimum yield is essentially your target and I believe the
39   guidelines, when they come out, are going to require that you
40   set a catch limit, which is the annual catch limit and in this
41   case it would coincide with the Fmax level of yields, and then a
42   catch target, which in this case would coincide with the optimal
43   yield.
44
45   I think we need to treat OY right now as the target and so to
46   me, Alternatives 4 and 5 don’t meet that test and I really don’t
47   think are viable. Furthermore, if you selected Alternative 4 or
48   5, you would be adjusting your management measures to hit that,


                                    99
 1   which means you would have about a 50 percent probability of
 2   going over in any given year.
 3
 4   Remember, it’s when you go over that Fmax level that the
 5   accountability measures are going to kick in.       You would be
 6   setting yourselves up to have accountability measures kick in
 7   almost every other year and I don’t think we want to do that.
 8
 9   The advantage, I believe, of Alternative 2, as opposed to
10   Alternative 3, is it would allow the catch limit to go up each
11   year and so as the stock grows, the likelihood of triggering the
12   accountability measures takes that into account and so to me,
13   Alternative 2 seems sufficiently conserve to meet our needs, but
14   I think it’s less likely to hamstring us in terms of triggering
15   these accountability mechanisms down the road.
16
17   I also believe, based on what I’ve seen of proposals in terms of
18   the guidelines and things, this would be pretty consistent with
19   most of them in terms of constructing ACLs.       I think, in my
20   review of this, Alternative 2 looks like the best way to go.
21
22   CHAIRMAN MINTON:     Roy, will we have enough information to
23   evaluate the impacts of this annual increase? That’s one of the
24   things that we got onto the three-year and the five-year
25   scenario, so that we would have some information at the end of
26   that time frame to see how we were hitting those milestones.
27
28   DR. CRABTREE: I think what would happen is the TAC -- We would
29   probably set it to automatically go up for the first few years.
30   We’ll have to look at the SEDAR schedule and when do we have
31   another gag assessment.     The increases in these TACs are
32   relatively small.
33
34   It’s not likely to mean that you’re going to relax the
35   regulations at all.    I suppose we would adjust the commercial
36   quota up to reflect that, but the recreational fishery, I think
37   you would just expect to catch more fish as the stock grows.
38
39   I don’t think there would be any real changes in the
40   regulations, other than the limit that the accountability
41   measures are based on would go up and probably the commercial
42   quota would adjust along these lines. Is that getting at your
43   question?
44
45   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   I’m just concerned about the accountability
46   measures and being hit at some point, three years or four years
47   down the road, when we see it and we haven’t got that and have
48   to actually close the fishery because we were exceeding those in


                                   100
 1   each year, possibly, in one sector or the other and then we
 2   don’t have any mechanism to help adjust that, except for a
 3   closure.
 4
 5   DR. CRABTREE:    That’s going to depend on how we set up the
 6   accountability mechanisms. One way, when we look at this, would
 7   be -- If the commercial fishery goes over their quota, it’s
 8   going to go over by a relatively small amount and you can
 9   probably take that off the next year and it wouldn’t be that
10   disruptive.
11
12   With the recreational fishery, they could go over by a
13   substantial amount and if you tried to pay that all back the
14   next year, it could create large problems. Another way to come
15   at that would be if the recreational fishery goes over, then you
16   come in and adjust their target catch level downward, by say 10
17   percent, and adjust management measures to that.
18
19   You’re not trying to pay it back, but you’re lowering the target
20   a little bit and if you did that over a period of time, you
21   would reach a target catch level that was sufficiently below the
22   limit that you’re not very likely to go over it any and that’s
23   another way to come at it.
24
25   It probably would be more disruptive in terms of having to have
26   paybacks of -- We’ve had recreational fisheries where they went
27   over it by twice what they were supposed to catch and if you try
28   to pay that all back in the next year, you wouldn’t have a
29   fishery.
30
31   A lot of what people are concerned about is if you get these
32   really big deficits that you’re trying to pay back that it’s
33   going to be very difficult and very disruptive. Looking at the
34   accountability in terms of readjusting the target may be one way
35   to deal with that.
36
37   MS. MORRIS:  I have a question and then I was going to make a
38   motion.   The question is do all of these Alternative 2 and
39   Alternative 3 TACs end overfishing within the required time
40   period?
41
42   MR. ATRAN:    Yes.   Don’t forget that ending overfishing is a
43   little bit different from what we might need to do under the
44   ACLs and accountability measures. Right now, ending overfishing
45   simply means getting the fishing mortality below FMSY. For the
46   long term, we are probably going to need some measures that will
47   get us around OY, with some fluctuations allowed.
48


                                   101
 1   MS. MORRIS: Alternative 2 and 3 both end overfishing and so my
 2   motion is that Alternative 2 be the preferred alternative.
 3
 4   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   We have a motion on the floor.    Is there a
 5   second?   It’s seconded by Dr. Crabtree.   Is there discussion?
 6   Just as a point of reference, Rick just passed me a note that
 7   says that the current SEDAR schedule, gag is to be updated in
 8   mid-2011. That works very well, I think, for us. That gives us
 9   three years and we look at it and then come back and we’re not
10   getting too far in the hole.   I feel a little more comfortable
11   with Alternative 2 with that. Is there any discussion?
12
13   MS. WALKER:    Can you remind me, Mr. Chairman, was this the
14   recommendation of our SSC?
15
16   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   The SSC punted.   That’s not a nice thing to
17   say.   They said that Alternative 2 was a little lenient and
18   Alternative 3 was too strict and so we’re kind of in the middle,
19   but after Dr. Crabtree’s discussion, I feel more comfortable
20   with it.   Is there further discussion?   Is there any objection
21   to the motion? Hearing none, the motion passes.
22
23   MR. ATRAN:   That brings us to Action 4, which is Red Grouper
24   TAC, which begins on page 27 and goes over to 28. Red grouper
25   is a different situation from gag.         Gag is undergoing
26   overfishing and so we are trying to reduce TAC to end
27   overfishing and achieve optimum yield.
28
29   Red grouper TAC, the red grouper stock, was determined to be
30   fully rebuilt above its BMSY and is currently at or near its
31   optimum yield biomass levels. In the case of red grouper, we’re
32   at where we wish to maintain equilibrium and so we don’t have
33   these periodic increases or changes in TACs.
34
35   We just have one TAC going forward until we get the next stock
36   assessment and the alternatives are Alternative 1, no action,
37   don’t change the red grouper TAC, it remains at 6.56 million
38   pounds; Alternative 2, set the red grouper TAC at the level
39   corresponding to FOY, which is 7.57 million pounds; and
40   Alternative 3 is to set the TAC at the level corresponding to
41   FMSY, which is 7.72 million pounds.
42
43   I would just remind you of what Dr. Crabtree said, that if it is
44   set at FMSY that there would be a 50 percent probability of
45   dropping below the overfishing threshold in any given year.
46
47   The SSC recommendation is by a vote of eight to zero, which
48   means that we still had a quorum at this point, the SSC


                                   102
 1   supported Alternative 2, which is to set TAC at the OY level,
 2   7.57 million pounds.    The AP recommendation also was to set it
 3   based on Alternative 2.
 4
 5   MR. GILL: It seems to me that it’s fairly obvious what we need
 6   to do here and so I move Preferred Alternative 2 be our option.
 7
 8   CHAIRMAN MOTION:    There’s a motion on the floor.      Is there a
 9   second?
10
11   MS. MORRIS:   Second.
12
13   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   It’s seconded by Ms. Morris.
14
15   MR. TEEHAN: I guess I have a question about the notes for the
16   SSC then, because what it says here is after Action 1, at this
17   point a quorum was lost, but the remaining SSC members decided
18   to continue without a quorum.      That was after Action 1,
19   according to the notes.
20
21   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Apparently they had some people come in and
22   vote for them. Steve, can you help us on that? We seem to be
23   in a quandary here.
24
25   MR. ATRAN:  We were moving things around and we weren’t doing
26   things in order and so it’s possible we might have done this
27   ahead.
28
29   EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SWINGLE:    There’s sixteen members on there
30   and so if you look at it, 50 percent of them were still there,
31   but that wouldn’t be a quorum, I guess.
32
33   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Thank you, Wayne.   Everybody is right.
34
35   DR. CRABTREE:   I think this makes sense to me, to set this at
36   the preferred alternative and set the TAC at the OY level, but I
37   want to talk a minute about where we are with red grouper. We
38   can increase the TAC, but the assessment also shows that the
39   fishing mortality rates are right at the target level.
40
41   We don’t really have any justification to increase fishing
42   mortality and so as we move through the document, you need to
43   bear in mind that whatever management changes you make need to
44   basically be neutral in terms of fishing mortality, because the
45   fishing mortality rates are right where they’re supposed to be.
46
47   That’s something we’re going to have to deal with, because when
48   we get further in the document and you start talking about


                                     103
 1   relaxing regulations or relaxing restrictions, those are likely
 2   to increase fishing mortality rates and so we don’t really have
 3   any justification to do that.
 4
 5   The fishery will catch more fish, and that’s okay, but they’re
 6   going to catch more fish because there are more fish out there
 7   to be caught and by applying the same fishing mortality rate
 8   that’s been applied in the past.
 9
10   Just bear that in mind, because that is something that we will
11   have to have the Science Center look at carefully and to go
12   forward with whatever the recommendations are, the Center is
13   going to have to determine that they are neutral in terms of
14   fishing mortality for red grouper.
15
16   Now, there is one thing that we need to bear in mind.     We did
17   phase out fish traps, effective in February of this year. Fish
18   traps have historically caught on the order of 700,000 pounds of
19   red grouper a year.
20
21   Even if you assume that some of those fishermen have switched to
22   other gear and are still fishing red grouper, and there’s no
23   question that some of them are, there probably is some reduction
24   in fishing mortality that came from the fish trap phase out.
25   Based on how you decide to allocate the catch and look at this,
26   you may have a little bit of flexibility in terms of what you
27   can do with red grouper, but we need to bear that in mind as we
28   move forward.
29
30   MS. WALKER:   Excuse my ignorance, Roy, but help me with this.
31   Our goal for gag is FOY.    It’s the same thing for red grouper
32   and yet, FOY calls for a 7.57 million pound TAC, but I hear this
33   fear in your voice of we don’t want to increase mortality or
34   fishing effort. I’m wondering now, is FOY our goal and are we
35   not ever going to be able to be comfortable when we reach that
36   with a stock?
37
38   DR. CRABTREE:   FOY is your goal and we have reached it and I
39   think we are comfortable with it, but what we don’t want to do
40   now is move away from the goal and that’s why we have to be
41   careful as we adjust the restrictions that are in place to
42   control fishing mortality.
43
44   It’s okay for the fishery to catch more fish.       Remember the
45   catch is the fishing mortality rate multiplied by the biomass of
46   fish that’s out there. They can catch more fish, but they need
47   to do it because that biomass has gone up, not because the
48   fishing mortality rate has gone up.


                                   104
 1
 2   Think back to some of the slides we saw yesterday from the
 3   Madison-Swanson presentation.   A lot of the index showed that
 4   the grouper abundance had dropped off some in the last couple of
 5   years.
 6
 7   We’re seeing lower grouper catches now than we’ve seen in the
 8   last few years and there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence to
 9   indicate that the population is not quite where it was a couple
10   of years ago. They may not catch that whole level of OY. They
11   may not be able to catch 7.57 million pounds right now, but that
12   may be because the biomass has come down a little bit.
13
14   That’s always going to be the case, because we know we have some
15   pretty good fluctuations in recruitment over time.       If the
16   biomass moves back up to where it was in 2004 and 2005, they
17   would probably have no trouble catching 7.57 million pounds, but
18   we just need to remember that we’re at the target fishing
19   mortality rate and we don’t want to do something that’s going to
20   move us way back up above that and that’s my point.
21
22   MS. WALKER:    Isn’t that the reason we go with FOY instead of
23   Fmax,   so   that   we’ll  have  that   cushion?    Maybe  I’m
24   misunderstanding.
25
26   DR. CRABTREE:    The point is, Bobbi, if we let the fishing
27   mortality rates go back up, we won’t have the cushion anymore
28   and so we need to keep the fishing mortality rates where we are
29   to maintain the cushion.
30
31   CHAIRMAN MINTON:  Other discussion?   There’s a motion on the
32   floor. Is there any objection to the motion? Hearing none, the
33   motion passes.
34
35   MR. ATRAN:   That brings us to Action 5, which is Gag and Red
36   Grouper Allocations.   The discussion begins on page 28.    The
37   alternatives are on page 30 and there’s a table summarizing the
38   alternatives on page 31.
39
40   The alternatives are -- We originally started out with, I think,
41   about five alternatives and tried to simplify this to bring it
42   down to about three alternatives for the sake of analysis. What
43   we have in here is Alternative 1 is to use as close as possible
44   to the recommendation the direction in the framework procedure
45   to use the years 1979 to 1987, unless some other method is
46   chosen.
47
48   In the case of groupers, commercial grouper landings weren’t


                                   105
 1   identified to species level until 1986 and so we only have a
 2   two-year period if we use Alternative 1, 1986 to 1987, for
 3   determining allocations.
 4
 5   Alternative 2 is to use a recent five-year period for which we
 6   have finalized data, 2001 to 2005, and Alternative 3 is to use
 7   the full time series of data for which we have final data, which
 8   is 1986 to 2005.
 9
10   In terms of what that works out to in allocations, there are
11   some small differences.    It’s not nearly as disparate between
12   alternatives on this amendment as it for amberjacks and
13   triggerfish in Amendment 30A, but if we go with the Amendment 1
14   allocations, which is Alternative 1, gag would be 65 percent
15   recreational and 35 percent commercial.
16
17   Red grouper would be 23 percent recreational and 77 percent
18   commercial. If we do the recent five-year period, gag would be
19   59 recreational and 41 percent commercial and red grouper would
20   be 24 percent recreational and 76 percent commercial.   There’s
21   only a 1 percent difference on the red grouper between
22   Alternatives 1 and 2.
23
24   If we go with the full time series, gag would be 61 percent
25   recreational and 39 percent commercial and red grouper would be
26   the same as it would be under Alternative 2, 24 percent
27   recreational and 76 percent commercial.      There’s only a few
28   percentage difference points between any of these alternatives.
29
30   The SSC had discussed allocations in depth when they were
31   discussing Amendment 30A before they got to 30B and they made a
32   recommendation that they endorsed with 30B that initially they
33   said that they did not have any scientific basis to prefer one
34   allocation over another and then they decided to recommend that
35   the council form an ad hoc working group to develop a set of
36   standardized guidelines for determining allocations. That was a
37   recommendation made under 30A and they reiterated that for this
38   section. The Reef Fish AP --
39
40   MR. KENNEDY:   Steven, do you want me to do that one?
41
42   MR. ATRAN:   Yes, if you understand it better than me.
43
44   MR. KENNEDY: The Reef Fish AP essentially discussed this one at
45   length, as you would expect they did. They made a first motion
46   and two substitute motions. Essentially, they covered all three
47   alternatives, but in the end, they voted for -- The first motion
48   passed, which was using Alternative 1, the Amendment 1


                                     106
 1   allocations, on a nine to six vote.
 2
 3   MS. WALKER:   Steve, do we know what the economic net benefit
 4   implications are to these allocation alternatives?
 5
 6   MR. ATRAN: I would have to punt to either a NMFS economist or
 7   Assane, if he’s done any work on this, because that’s completely
 8   outside of my understanding.
 9
10   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Can you answer it? Is Assane here? I don’t
11   see him. He stepped out. Roy, do you have anyone who can help
12   us here?
13
14   DR. CRABTREE:   No, I do not.   We’ll have to rely on Assane.
15
16   CHAIRMAN MINTON: This may be one of those areas that we want to
17   hold off on a preferred and get some more input, but maybe not.
18
19   MS. MORRIS:    That was the point I was going to make, Mr.
20   Chairman.    I think that the council and the committee are
21   probably pretty closely evenly divided on this issue of
22   allocation and I think it might be good at this point in time to
23   not choose a preferred alternative, since they’re so close
24   together in their percentages anyway, and wait until we have
25   some public hearing comment and a more fully fleshed out
26   document before we choose an alternative in this section.
27
28   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   I think we’re all on the same page.
29
30   MR. PERRET:   Steve, can you -- Were you at the Ad Hoc Grouper
31   IFQ Advisory Panel meeting?     Is that the AP meeting you’re
32   talking about?
33
34   MR. ATRAN:   No, I believe either Stu or Assane were at that.
35
36   MR. PERRET:     I guess my question is that group that we
37   appointed, whoever they are -- All I see is Ken Roberts is vice
38   chair.   I don’t know who the chair is, but they made a motion
39   and it only states that the panel recommends Alternative 3,
40   which would set allocations based on all available years of
41   data, but there’s no rationale.   What was their reasoning for
42   their motion?
43
44   DR. DIAGNE:     Their rationale is they just looked at the
45   percentage that would fall to the two sides, the recreational
46   and the commercial, and also their rationale was to be
47   consistent with what has been done already in 30A.
48


                                      107
 1   MS. WALKER: It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that we have several
 2   stocks that we’re looking at allocation issues and I agree with
 3   Julie. I don’t know that the council has a clear directive of
 4   where we want to go with it.
 5
 6   I guess I would ask this committee -- I don’t agree with the
 7   SSC’s recommendations of forming an ad hoc committee, because I
 8   think it’s this council’s job to sit and say this is how we’re
 9   going to deal with allocation issues and treat every single
10   stock the same way and not pick and choose among different
11   stocks.
12
13   I’m not so certain that we shouldn’t just leave everything
14   status quo and start an amendment that looks at allocation of
15   all reef fish stocks and decide how the council wants to handle
16   these allocation issues.
17
18   MS. MORRIS: I have two comments in response to Bobbi’s comment.
19   One is that I think we have significant disagreement on the
20   council of what status quo is and that has come to the surface
21   in 30A. We’re not even in agreement on what status quo is.
22
23   I asked as chairman of the Administrative Policy Committee for
24   that committee to begin to work on a kind of principled cross-
25   cutting fishery approach to the allocation issues that have come
26   up in the past year and this was actually a request that Bob
27   Gill made in the summer and we haven’t been able to schedule an
28   Administrative Policy Committee meeting to begin to work on that
29   yet.   I’m promised that we’ll be able to work on that in the
30   January meeting.
31
32   I would welcome the thinking of a special kind of SSC/ad hoc
33   working group on what the kind of principles and guidelines
34   might be. I think it would be of assistance to the council.
35
36   I don’t think it would be replacing the work of the council’s
37   committee and the council itself to come up with an approach to
38   that, but I think it would be helpful to have the kind of
39   working group assistance that the SSC is suggesting. It sounds
40   like we’re kind of in agreement that we should not be choosing a
41   preferred in this section right now and that some larger across-
42   the-board effort would be a good thing to pursue.
43
44   MR. GILL:     To Bobbi’s point relative to the generalized
45   allocation, I welcomed the SSC’s view that we need to consider
46   that and I fully agree.    As Julie had mentioned, we have been
47   talking about that and trying to start that ball rolling.
48


                                   108
 1   I do have concerns about whether it’s appropriate to form an AP
 2   to do so and I like Julie’s suggestion that perhaps getting a
 3   group of them to give us their input would be indeed helpful,
 4   because it’s going to be a difficult issue to tackle and get
 5   into agreement and the more input we can get, the better.
 6
 7   Given that they made these recommendations for 30A and 30B, it
 8   would seem to me that this committee ought to consider whether
 9   or not doing it in the Administrative Committee is the proper
10   place or whether they would like to weigh in.
11
12   I tend to prefer the Administrative Committee, because it’s a
13   generalized thing, but the SSC kind of threw it in to our
14   committee here. I think we ought to consider that and move it
15   forward,   as  Julie had  mentioned,  in   the  Administrative
16   Committee.
17
18   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   I think in the past when we’ve had these
19   generic kind of amendments that we’ve actually formed a
20   subcommittee to work on that, because it doesn’t really fit
21   perfectly anywhere.    That may be another alternative to
22   consider.
23
24   DR. DIAGNE:     I just wanted to say that the SSC, in its
25   discussions, did suggest that it would be good for the council
26   to have consistent guidelines and a framework by which all
27   allocations would be addressed and they have reservations in
28   what has been done so far in 30A, but basically they just looked
29   at the timeframe, which is really very short.
30
31   Their strong recommendation is for the council to have once
32   again a consistent set of principles, an allocation policy, if
33   you would, that we can use and allocate across the board.
34
35   MS. WALKER:   I agree with the SSC that we do need something
36   consistent across the board with all species, but I think that
37   it is the council’s duty.     Allocation is not going to be a
38   scientific decision and I think we all realize that.
39
40   We don’t have the economic data to use that. The models aren’t
41   even available for us and so it’s not going to be scientific.
42   It’s something that I think is the duty of this council to make
43   the decision.   Julie, I guess I would have to ask Wayne this
44   question, because I don’t see that there is a question on status
45   quo.
46
47   Amendment 1, in my opinion, has always been used as status quo,
48   or no action, in all of the amendments.    If I’m wrong, Wayne,


                                   109
 1   will you please correct me?
 2
 3   EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SWINGLE:     It has until we got into the
 4   management of groupers and then we didn’t have the long-term
 5   dataset that we had for the other reef fish species.     I think
 6   some of the grouper allocations have been set maybe in the same
 7   vein as this, the best five years and that type of thing. There
 8   was some variation from it and the framework procedure allowed
 9   variation to occur if the council had rationale for having a
10   different allocation system.
11
12   MS. WALKER: Did the council take that action or was that action
13   that was taken by the National Marine Fisheries Service in their
14   secretarial amendment?
15
16   EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SWINGLE:   The action framework procedure is
17   in Alternative 1 of the reef fish plan.     That would apply to
18   that group and the Mackerel Committee took a similar stance, to
19   use the years with the most available data, but at the time they
20   did it, there was only two years.
21
22   Now, they also changed one different thing, in that the
23   recreational fishery gave back 2 percent of their share to the
24   commercial industry, because a lot of the recreational catch was
25   sold and entered the marketplace and was counted as commercial
26   landings.
27
28   Otherwise, they were the same and I think there were several
29   amendments that Terry Leary, or a couple of amendments anyway,
30   that he prepared where he gave them the opportunity to go back
31   and use a longer time period for the mackerel fishery and they
32   didn’t do it. They stayed with what they originally adopted.
33
34   MR. RIECHERS:    It’s going to be hard on this one, but I’m
35   probably going to agree or disagree with everyone around the
36   table a little bit.     We’ve talked about forming an ad hoc
37   workgroup and the SSC has asked us to do that and in reality, we
38   already have that workgroup working. They’re working on the red
39   grouper allocation as we speak.    That was an ad hoc group we
40   formed that will bring us back some of the framework for us to
41   make those decisions.
42
43   I agree with Bobbi in that ultimately we’re going to have to
44   look at those and we’re going to have to look at their advice
45   and we’re going to have to look at the science that they bring
46   us.   That’s where I disagree with you a little bit.     It is
47   science they’re going to bring us back and their best cut at
48   that science.


                                   110
 1
 2   Then we’re going to do that just like we do   these other options
 3   and we’re going to have a suite of options     that we’re looking
 4   at.   I think it would be helpful if we        could create some
 5   standardization in how we deal with these      issues as we move
 6   forward.
 7
 8   I think we may be kind of getting ourselves wrapped around the
 9   axle a little bit here, in that if we could get that group to
10   bring us back to the Administrative Policy group or a special
11   group or the Reef Fish Committee, it doesn’t really matter, that
12   would then set the stage for us creating those common elements
13   we’re going to look at each time, as well as bring us a
14   framework of the science that will help guide in that decision
15   making.
16
17   MS. KAY WILLIAMS:   I’m not on your committee yet and hopefully
18   in the future I will be.
19
20   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   I don’t think you’re on the council yet.
21
22   MS. WILLIAMS:   Sort of.   I’m just not sworn in yet.    Even in
23   looking at the allocation measures that I’ve been looking at and
24   you look at the time series, I’m still confused and I think
25   that’s where the SSC and the SEP and some of the others are
26   going to come in.
27
28   Looking at the landings data, the commercial industry wasn’t
29   even -- They didn’t even really have logbooks mandatory until
30   1993. We’ve looked at some of the landings records by MRFSS and
31   the recreational sector didn’t really agree with those and they
32   actually changed the way now that they collect the data.
33
34   I think there was a charterboat/headboat survey type thing,
35   where they were looking at landings information in order to help
36   us with these TACs, and I think -- I don’t think it’s just we’ve
37   got to go back and look at Amendment 1 any longer.
38
39   If we’ve got to set actual catch limits or annual catch limits,
40   we’re going to have to know what those are and use all of the
41   history and the regulations and how that affected the landings
42   each year.   I don’t think it’s just simple and going back and
43   looking at what Amendment 1 did.
44
45   MR. ATRAN: On the question of trying to determine exactly what
46   is status quo, the IPT tried to get around that problem. If you
47   look at how Alternative 1 and Alternative 2 start out in the
48   wording, that would leave the definition of what the allocation


                                     111
 1   is, based upon the default that’s in the framework procedure,
 2   without having to change anything that’s in writing, but that
 3   does differ from what’s going on in the water in recent years.
 4
 5   The recent years division between commercial and recreational,
 6   we decided to call it functional status quo, which I don’t think
 7   has any legal meaning and so we can make it mean whatever we
 8   want. We said that shows what’s actually going on in the water,
 9   even if it doesn’t match what’s in the amendment.
10
11   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Is that opposed to dysfunctional status quo,
12   Steve?
13
14   MR. MICHAEL MCLEMORE: I have several comments. First of all, I
15   want to point out that the time range for allocations in
16   Amendment 1 is in the framework in Amendment 1 and it is
17   specific to setting TAC and the other measures you do through
18   framework, in other words regulatory amendments, but that
19   framework explicitly says alternative allocation procedures will
20   be regularly reviewed relative to the goal to maximize net
21   benefits.    Other allocation methods may be developed in
22   subsequent years, but the council intends that those changes be
23   made by plan amendment.
24
25   That’s what you’re doing. You’ve got a plan amendment here and
26   it’s been done in previous plan amendments, whether it
27   explicitly said we’re looking at this time series or we’re
28   updating it. I think Secretarial Amendment 1 is one example of
29   that.
30
31   I would far rather defend a record of rationale for allocation
32   varying from this Amendment 1 time series when you’ve got a
33   record each time you did it as to why you did it that’s
34   consistent with what Amendment 1 said than reverting back to
35   Amendment 1 twenty years later, or however long later it is,
36   just because that’s what you did twenty years ago, when you
37   haven’t done it in the intervening years. That just -- To me,
38   that’s going to take some serious explanation and record
39   building. That’s one point.
40
41   The other point is I think both of these amendments, 30A and
42   30B, need some explanation and record as to why you’re looking
43   at allocation in the first place. It’s wholly lacking in there
44   and some of us have talked about that.
45
46   Finally, on the idea of establishing principles for making
47   allocations in the various FMPs and various species and
48   whatever, you’re not starting from scratch. There are some


                                   112
 1   legal parameters that will guide you in that and maybe start you
 2   on that road.
 3
 4   National Standard 4 and the Guideline for National Standard 4,
 5   clearly there’s a lot of useful guidance there, but keep in mind
 6   you’ve got to make sure that your allocations don’t discriminate
 7   based on state residence, they’re fair and equitable, they’re
 8   designed to promote conservation, and they preclude any one
 9   single entity from achieving an excessive share.
10
11   Section 303(a) (14) says you’ve got to fairly and equitably
12   allocate recovery benefits and harvest restrictions when you’ve
13   got an overfished stock among the various sectors of the fishery
14   and you’ve got to take economic impacts into consideration.
15
16   Read through the Guidelines on National Standard 4. I have them
17   online and if you want them, I can email them to you. I think
18   you’ll find it very useful in getting where you’re trying to go.
19
20   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Thank you. Assane, can you give us an update
21   as to where the working group is right now so that we can --
22
23   DR. DIAGNE:     Yes, Mr. Chairman.     The workgroup is making
24   progress.   Our next meeting is scheduled in Tampa for December
25   6th and 7th and so for the next council meeting, which is in
26   January, we will ask one of the scientists to come and present
27   the findings to the council.
28
29   That being said, if I may add, the working group addresses one
30   question, which is how do you go about allocating, or rather
31   determining, the optimal allocation based on economic valuation.
32   That is only one approach that can be used when you want to
33   allocate a resource.
34
35   There are additional ways of doing that, which the council may
36   want to consider.   Later on, when we’re discussing red snapper
37   allocation, at least the preliminary discussion document, I’ll
38   try to touch on some of those things.
39
40   CHAIRMAN MINTON:      Thank you.
41
42   MS. MORRIS:   I’m going to make a motion that we not choose a
43   preferred alternative in Action 5.
44
45   MR. GILL:   Second.
46
47   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    The motion and second is to not have       a
48   preferred alternative on Action 5. Is there any discussion?


                                        113
 1
 2   DR. LEARD: I just wanted to point out that in terms of moving
 3   forward with this document, and we are in somewhat of a hurry-
 4   up, I guess, mode for getting this done and everything -- With
 5   gag, it’s not going to make a whole lot of difference, because
 6   you only have about a 6 percentage point change for each one of
 7   them, but in doing the impact analyses for these different
 8   alternatives, we need to -- We can do that without a preferred
 9   alternative here, but I just wanted to remind you that when we
10   get to 30A, which is on even a faster track, we’re definitely
11   going to need to be sure that we’re clear on what your preferred
12   alternative is, so that the impact analyses can reflect that.
13
14   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Thank you, Rick. Is there further discussion?
15   Hearing none, is there any objection to the motion? The motion
16   carries.
17
18   MS. WALKER:    As Mike has so eloquently stated, we have the
19   perimeters to work with to develop standard criteria for
20   allocations and as I’ve said before, I think that it is this
21   council’s duty to do that.
22
23   I would move that this committee recommend to the council to set
24   up an ad hoc committee of council members to work towards
25   developing criteria for us to use in allocation issues for all
26   Gulf fish. Does that make sense?
27
28   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Is there a second to the motion? I’ll second
29   the motion to hear some more discussion, because I think this is
30   a way to get this thing moving, although it may not pass,
31   obviously.   Really and truly, I think the motion is kind of
32   where we need to go.
33
34   There’s more to allocation than simple science or complex
35   science or simple economics or complex economics.    The council
36   is made up of a diversity of people, not only to give scientific
37   input, but to give perspectives from different fisheries and
38   non-fisheries.   Sometimes these allocation issues go beyond
39   simple math.
40
41   I think we need to look at that and I like the idea of putting
42   council members on here. I’m sure they will be working in close
43   contact with the ad hoc working group, but to me, it does make
44   sense.
45
46   MS. MORRIS: I would ask the mover and the seconder to withdraw
47   the motion until Other Business in the Reef Fish Committee
48   agenda, because we have two other discussions scheduled for this


                                   114
 1   morning that deal on this allocation issue, the red snapper
 2   allocation agenda item and the 30A allocation.
 3
 4   I think after we’ve had those two additional discussions that
 5   we’ll have more of a sense of what our advice to the council is
 6   about how to form this next step.      I think we’ll have -- A
 7   better place for the discussion of this motion is under Other
 8   Business, after we’ve finished those two agenda items.
 9
10   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Is that all right with you, Bobbi?
11
12   MS. WALKER:   That’s fine.
13
14   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Thank you.   That’s a good point.
15
16   MR. KENNEDY:    Mr. Chairman, we’re kind of lost.     The motion
17   withdrawn is the second motion that you’re talking about?
18
19   CHAIRMAN MINTON:     Correct.       It’s   not   withdrawn,   but   it’s
20   deferred to Other Business.
21
22   MR. KENNEDY:   That’s the one you’re talking about and you’re
23   still left with the motion on Action 5 on the board.
24
25   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   That passed.
26
27   MR. ATRAN:   I would just like a little clarification. Is this
28   being moved to Other Business at the end of the meeting or
29   somewhere in between? At the end of the meeting? Okay.
30
31   The next section is Action 6, Accountability Measures, which
32   begins on page 32. These are some fairly complex alternatives.
33   Stu Kennedy has been doing most of the work on this section and
34   so I asked Stu before the meeting started if he would mind
35   discussing this section for the benefit of the committee.
36
37   MR. KENNEDY:   Yes, I will.   I have been working on these.  In
38   fact, I’ve done some of the work on all of 30A accountability
39   and then done these.    You’ll find they’re different than what
40   was in the document before and so neither the Reef Fish AP or
41   the SSC has seen these measures.
42
43   The more we work on these things, the more complicated they seem
44   to get. I think you had some of that conversation earlier, when
45   we were talking about TACs. Before I actually start describing
46   these, I would really like to make a recommendation that you
47   move these all to Considered but Rejected and start an amendment
48   as soon as you can to do accountability measures across the


                                       115
 1   board for all the species, essentially have it in place before
 2   the 2010 time period.
 3
 4   We don’t have the guidelines yet and although I think we’re
 5   following what we suspect those guidelines will be fairly well,
 6   there’s just a lot of implications to these things that I have
 7   seen in doing them that I’m not sure are well documented, even
 8   by me in me trying to write what’s in this document.
 9
10   I think it needs a lot more discussion before they become real
11   and so that’s my recommendation.    I’ll go through them if you
12   want and if you decide not to do that, then that’s fine and I’ll
13   go through them and show you what they have.
14
15   MS. WILLIAMS: Stu, I don’t know that I agree with you that you
16   can put all of the ACLs into one document. The way I understood
17   it is it was supposed to be in each fishery management plan as
18   to how you were going to handle that fishery and I don’t think
19   all fisheries are going to be treated equally.
20
21   I don’t think red snapper is going to be treated like gag or red
22   grouper and I don’t think the pelagics are going to be treated
23   like red snapper or gag or grouper. I don’t think that you can
24   do it in one generic. I think it’s going to have to be in each
25   individual plan.
26
27   DR. CRABTREE: I think I tend to agree with Stu, but I do have
28   some concerns.     We have four stocks that are undergoing
29   overfishing and that’s gag, red snapper, greater amberjack, and
30   gray triggerfish.
31
32   We will have to have accountability mechanisms in place for
33   those stocks by 2010 and they’re all in the reef fish plan. We
34   could hold off on this, but we need to get working fairly soon
35   on an amendment to the reef fish plan to do ACLs and
36   accountability mechanisms for these four stocks.
37
38   I agree that without the guidelines worked up now, and this is
39   getting very complicated and procedurally difficult way to go,
40   and so I think that it might be wise to hold off. These would
41   then come in play not long after this amendment, because to get
42   them in place by 2010, we’re going to have to really get going
43   on this by early next year some time, so a couple of meetings
44   from now.
45
46   We really need, and I’m going to bring this up when we get to
47   Other Business, but we have got to address the issue of
48   accountability mechanisms in red snapper and we need to do it


                                   116
 1   soon and the law requires that we do it.
 2
 3   My biggest concern about holding off on this, and I’ll come back
 4   to it in Amendment 30A, is greater amberjack. In that case, we
 5   are running out of time to rebuild the stock and we need to come
 6   up with some way to deal with potential overruns next year.
 7
 8   That’s the one case where I think there is some urgency, but I
 9   think otherwise that we could come at these four stocks in a
10   separate amendment to do ACLs and accountability mechanisms for
11   it and then follow that up with the rest of our stocks. I think
12   there’s some merit to what Stu is suggesting.
13
14   MR. TEEHAN:   I think my question has just been answered by the
15   discussion.
16
17   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Thank you. What’s the committee’s preference?
18   I think we got a good recommendation. Kay, in deference to your
19   point, I think that each one will have to be individually
20   analyzed, but I think there are some common grounds, based on
21   common principles, that can be used in all of them, but
22   certainly there will be different measures based on the status
23   of the stock and where we have to go with that, but I do think
24   there’s some commonality that we can use.
25
26   MS. MORRIS:    Mike and Kay and I were at new council member
27   orientation last week in D.C. and we had a presentation by
28   Trumble, who is heading up the effort on developing the
29   guidelines on ACLs and AMs for NOAA, and he indicated that he
30   thought that they would be done with the draft guidelines in
31   January and then they would go to OMB and he expected them to be
32   -- He thought there was a fair chance that OMB would sit on
33   them, or work with them, for several months.
34
35   It’s possible that we might have the guidelines by January and
36   it’s possible they might not be available until April. I think
37   our proactive stance of trying to get the ACLs and AMs in
38   Amendment 30B and 30A was a really wise move on our part.
39
40   I hate to let go of that. Sometimes we shed things because we
41   want to move ahead with what we have to do and then it takes a
42   long time to get back to what we had intended to do, what we set
43   aside and put on a slower timeline.
44
45   It seems like that’s probably the pragmatic thing to do at this
46   point and we have made a lot of progress in the draft so far, so
47   that when we pick it up back up hopefully we will have that head
48   start that we intended by including it in the document as we


                                    117
 1   drafted it up to this point.
 2
 3   CHAIRMAN MINTON: That leaves the chair in doubt. We need some
 4   motion to either move on with these or set them aside. Somebody
 5   help me out. Without a motion, we will be going through them.
 6
 7   DR. CRABTREE: I would move for Amendment 30B that we ask staff
 8   to start work on an amendment to put in place accountability
 9   measures and annual catch limits for our stocks that are
10   undergoing overfishing, which are gag, red snapper, greater
11   amberjack, and gray triggerfish, and that these accountability
12   mechanisms go into that and that we come back early next year
13   and start working on that, to get those put in place.
14
15   MS. MORRIS:   Second.
16
17   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   The motion is seconded.
18
19   DR. CRABTREE: Just one thing I want to be clear on here though.
20   When we come to 30A, I think we are going to have to maintain
21   some type of mechanism in there to deal with overages, because
22   that one, I think, is going to be upon us next year. While we
23   may need to revisit that, because we don’t know what’s coming in
24   the guidelines, I’m not in this motion suggesting removing that
25   from Amendment 30A, since we haven’t even gotten to that one
26   yet.
27
28   CHAIRMAN MINTON: We have a motion and a second. Is there any
29   discussion? Roy, is this your motion on the board?
30
31   DR. CRABTREE:   Yes, I’m talking about -- We’re talking about
32   moving these measures in Amendment 30B.  I’m not at this point
33   moving anything out of 30A. We’ll come back to that when we get
34   to Amendment 30A.
35
36   We need to leave greater amberjack and gray triggerfish in
37   there, in case the guidelines change and what we do -- If we do
38   it in 30A. We may come back to it at that time. Is that clear?
39   I’m not prepared to make a motion to move something out of 30A
40   until we get to 30A to talk about it.
41
42   If I could, in addition, Mr. Chairman, even if we proceed in 30A
43   and do the accountability measures there, we would still need to
44   come in and more formally address the annual catch limits for
45   those species here.     Greater amberjack and gray triggerfish
46   likely need to be included in this under any circumstance.    It
47   just depends on what we decide to do.
48


                                     118
 1   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   This will be a totally new amendment?
 2
 3   DR. CRABTREE:    That’s   how   I’m    framing   this.    I’m   open   to
 4   suggestions from folks.
 5
 6   MR. RIECHERS:   I think that’s the lines we were         working along,
 7   if you guys remember the spreadsheet that we              had a pretty
 8   lengthy discussion about at the last council               meeting that
 9   basically laid out some of the options for               accountability
10   measures and catch limits that we would be seeing        in some of our
11   target thresholds and so forth.
12
13   Probably the only way to get all of those other species included
14   in time is to put them in an umbrella amendment and have that
15   whole amendment moved through the process.
16
17   We kind of went ahead and started putting them in this document,
18   because we thought we might have guidance and we thought we
19   might be able to fit them into this document, but obviously
20   we’re moving a little faster on this document and the guidelines
21   have been a little slower than we might have thought.
22
23   I certainly concur with the motion.     I think we may have to
24   address these all and it’s going to make it a little complex and
25   it’s going to make it a little bit difficult as we move it
26   through the process, but I think it’s the only way we’re going
27   to meet our deadline, is to do that in an umbrella amendment.
28   If we try to do it species by species, we’re just not going to
29   make it, I think.
30
31   DR. CRABTREE:   I’m expecting that we will next year have to
32   start working on a generic amendment to address the rest of
33   these ACLs. The other thing that I would like to talk about for
34   a minute is we need to recognize that I don’t believe we’re --
35   We will likely be allowed to form multispecies ACLs in some
36   fashion.
37
38   I think grouper is a fishery where we’re going to want to
39   consider putting together a multispecies ACL.     I don’t think
40   you’re going to want to come in and have annual catch limits for
41   every single grouper species and individual accountability
42   mechanisms for individual species.
43
44   That’s going to cause the whole notion of a shallow-water
45   grouper quota to fall apart and aggregate bag limits.   I would
46   ask staff in this amendment that we’re talking about to also
47   take a look at forming some multispecies grouper complex issues
48   and address the issue of a multispecies ACL for shallow-water


                                      119
 1   grouper, of which gag would be a part.
 2
 3   To me, it’s appropriate to manage the shallow-water grouper
 4   fishery as a fishery and I just think from a logistical point of
 5   view that it would be very difficult to have individual ACLs for
 6   all of them and it would just lead to some chaos. I would like
 7   to have that addressed in this particular amendment as well.
 8
 9   CHAIRMAN MINTON:  Further discussion?  Hearing none, is there
10   any objection to the motion?  The motion carries.   Let’s take
11   about a ten-minute break and then come back and we’ll pick up
12   2.7.
13
14   (Whereupon, a brief recess was taken.)
15
16   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Can we get the Reef Fish Committee back to the
17   table, please?   I think we’re basically here.    We do have a
18   quorum. This takes us to page 41, 2.7, Action 7, Shallow-Water
19   Grouper, Red Grouper, and Gag Commercial Quotas.
20
21   MR. ATRAN:   Action 7, as Vernon said, is on page 41.   This is
22   setting the commercial quota for shallow-water grouper.   Aside
23   from the no action alternative that would leave the shallow-
24   water grouper quota at its current level of 8.8 million pounds,
25   within which there’s a red grouper of 5.31 million pounds, each
26   of the remaining two alternatives works in pretty much the same
27   way.
28
29   They add together the commercial allocation for red grouper, for
30   gag, plus an allowance for the other groupers, an aggregate from
31   the shallow-water complex. The difference is that Alternative 2
32   for that other grouper uses 0.57 million pounds, which is based
33   upon the baseline years, using Secretarial Amendment 1, 1999 to
34   2001, and Alternative 3 has a slightly higher allowance, 0.68
35   million pounds, which is based upon a more recent average of the
36   years 2001 to 2004.
37
38   The AP and the SSC both recommended Alternative 3, which is to
39   add together the allocations for gag and red grouper, and use
40   the base period of 2001 to 2004, or 0.68 million pounds.
41
42   The SSC stated their rationale was because that alternative, as
43   far as the other groupers go, reflected a more recent time
44   period and a longer time period, that is more likely to
45   accurately reflect average catches.
46
47   MR. GILL: In the interest of brevity, I move that Alternative 3
48   be our preferred alternative.


                                    120
 1
 2   CHAIRMAN MINTON: The motion on the floor is to move Alternative
 3   3 as the preferred. Is there a second?
 4
 5   MS. MORRIS: It’s seconded by Ms. Morris.    Is there discussion?
 6   This could be real brief.
 7
 8   MR. GILL: I think we’ve heard from Steve that both the AP and
 9   the SSC, or at least what was left of the SSC, recommended that
10   and is the longest time series and the better alternative.
11
12   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   National Marine Fisheries Service, do you have
13   a comment?
14
15   DR. CRABTREE:   Not at this time.    I think, based on what I’m
16   looking at, I don’t see a problem with this right now.
17
18   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Is there any other discussion?   Is there any
19   objection to the motion? The motion passes.
20
21   MR. ATRAN:   Action 8 is Application of Quota Closures.    That
22   begins on page 42. This is a number of alternatives for how to
23   close the fishery for shallow-water grouper when one or more of
24   the species or aggregate quotas is met.
25
26   Alternative 1 is no action, which would leave the regulations as
27   they are right now.       The commercial shallow-water grouper
28   fishery closes when either red grouper or shallow-water grouper
29   quota is reached, whichever comes first.     It ignores the gag
30   quota.
31
32   Alternative 2 simply incorporates the gag quota into the
33   existing regulations.   It states that the commercial shallow-
34   water grouper fishery closes when either the red grouper quota,
35   gag quota, or shallow-water grouper quota is reached, whichever
36   comes first.
37
38   In both of these alternatives, the problem that we’ve been
39   seeing with the red grouper and aggregate quotas and closing
40   everything when whichever one comes first is reached is that
41   whichever fishery has not reached its quota ends up being under
42   fished, I guess would be the term to use.
43
44   The commercial sector loses the opportunity to fill that other
45   species quota and so the remaining alternatives in this section
46   would try to come up with some way to allow the individual
47   quotas to be reached without exceeding the overall aggregate or
48   any individual species aggregate.


                                    121
 1
 2   Alternative 3 states that when an individual species quota is
 3   reached, either the gag or the red grouper quota, commercial
 4   harvest of that species alone closes.      The remainder of the
 5   shallow-water grouper fishery can continue until either both gag
 6   and red grouper quotas are reached or until the shallow-water
 7   grouper quota is reached, whichever comes first.
 8
 9   What that’s saying is that when the first species quota is
10   reached, that species closes, but shallow-water grouper can
11   continue until any other quota is reached, at which time
12   shallow-water closes.
13
14   Alternative 4 was an attempt to do a geographical closure of
15   either red grouper or gag by taking advantage of the fact that
16   while there’s an overlap in the species areas of occurrence, gag
17   tend to be more abundant in the northern areas of the Florida
18   Shelf, whereas red grouper tend to be more abundant in the
19   shallow areas.
20
21   What this alternative says is that it’s an either/or, or we
22   could select some other percentage, of the gag quota is reached,
23   commercial harvest of all shallow-water grouper in Statistical
24   Areas 5 through 21, and I believe -- There’s a statistical map
25   on page 45 and so that’s I guess about Charlotte Harbor
26   northward that would close, but the southwestern part of Florida
27   would still be open to shallow-water fishing, until one of the
28   quotas is reached.
29
30   On the other hand, if 70 percent, or some other percentage, of
31   red grouper is reached, then the southern statistical areas, 1
32   through 4, would be prohibited, but fishing on all shallow-water
33   grouper could continue in the northern areas.
34
35   If both quotas are estimated to be reached at approximately the
36   same time, within thirty days of one another, then all
37   statistical areas would remain open until either the shallow-
38   water, red grouper, or gag quotas are met. As I said, if there
39   is an area closure, the remaining area would remain open to all
40   fishing, until any one of those quotas is met, and then all
41   shallow-water fishing would close.
42
43   The idea is to try to leave a small percentage of the fishery
44   that’s approaching its quota open, so that that species can
45   continue to be caught as an incidental catch in the remaining
46   area that’s open, while targeting the species that hasn’t
47   approached its quota yet.
48


                                   122
 1   The SSC -- Let me do the AP first. They were a little simpler.
 2   For this action, the AP recommended Alternative 3, when an
 3   individual species quota is reached, harvest of that species
 4   closes and the fishery can continue on the remainder of the
 5   shallow-water grouper, until one of the other quotas is reached,
 6   at which point shallow-water grouper is closed.      That motion
 7   carried by a vote of twelve to three.
 8
 9   The SSC didn’t really like any of these alternatives. They felt
10   that Alternatives 2 and 3 were inefficient and would result in
11   under harvest of at least one of the grouper species stocks and
12   they felt that Alternative 4, which is the geographic closures,
13   was too complex.
14
15   They came up with their own alternative, an Alternative 5, which
16   reads: When 90 percent, or some other percentage, of an
17   individual species quota is reached, directed harvest of that
18   species closes. However, harvest of the remaining shallow-water
19   species can continue with a bycatch allowance on the species
20   that is closed of between 5 and 10 percent of the total grouper
21   catch by weight.
22
23   That would continue until either both the gag or red grouper
24   quotas are reached or the shallow-water grouper quota is
25   reached, whichever comes first.   Basically, they’re trying to
26   close a species when it approaches its allocation, but leave
27   enough to allow a bycatch while the fishery continues to target
28   the remaining open species. That concludes that.
29
30   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Thank you, Steve.  That seems to make sense.
31   It should be something we could look at, whether we select it as
32   a preferred or not.     Is there any committee recommendations
33   regarding the SSC recommendation?
34
35   MR. GILL: I think we ought to include it as an alternative for
36   consideration at this time.
37
38   MS. WALKER:   Second.
39
40   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   We have a motion and a second to include the
41   SSC’s recommendation for an Alternative 5.        While they’re
42   putting this together, is there any discussion on this, other
43   than it just seems to make more sense than the others, the 90
44   percent and then a bycatch?
45
46   It does, at least on the outside, appear to work, because we
47   know, I think, intuitively that we will have bycatch, even
48   though they state later on in the document that the commercial


                                   123
 1   fishermen say they can target the species, but they have
 2   themselves indicated there would be some amount of bycatch.   I
 3   think the debate would center about how much that would be. The
 4   percentage is 5 by -- Did you say by weight, Steve?
 5
 6   MR. ATRAN:   Yes.
 7
 8   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    5 percent by weight and I think that does make
 9   sense.
10
11   MS. MORRIS: I’m just trying to understand the alternative that
12   the SSC has developed for us to consider. What would happen if
13   the bycatch allowance -- 90 percent of the gag commercial quota
14   is caught and you keep fishing other shallow-water grouper
15   species and what happens if more than another 10 percent of the
16   gag quota is caught?
17
18   Do you close all shallow-water grouper? That’s not addressed in
19   this alternative. It sounds like you just keep fishing, hoping
20   that the fishermen will choose to fish in ways that it doesn’t
21   exceed the 100 percent of the quota for gag, until the shallow-
22   water grouper quota is reached or the red grouper quota is
23   reached as well and is that kind of how it would operate?    It
24   seems like under Alternative 5 you can exceed the gag quota.
25
26   MR. ATRAN: I believe that was discussed during the SSC meeting,
27   but the idea is that there would be a very small bycatch
28   allowance allowed and possibly in some years there might be the
29   quota of that species being exceeded, but in other years, the
30   fishery would close before that remaining 5 to 10 percent is
31   filled.
32
33   This would allow some fluctuation      around the quota and that
34   would probably fit in with some of      the accountability measure
35   considerations that we’re looking      at that would allow some
36   fluctuation around optimum yield, as   long as on average we don’t
37   exceed that level.
38
39   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Roy, we would be able to get some analysis on
40   this, wouldn’t we, to give us kind of an idea of just how this
41   would curtain the fisheries, but at the same time not get into
42   the wasteful bycatch that I see with some of the others?
43
44   DR. CRABTREE: Absolutely. I think we can go into the logbooks
45   and look at what would have happened and some of those kinds of
46   things.   We’ll have to analyze it.   I have some concerns with
47   it, because it’s not clear to me how effective it will be, but I
48   think it is worth taking a look at. It certainly is a problem.


                                     124
 1   I guess we’re going to vote on this motion at this point, when
 2   we’re ready?
 3
 4   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    We will when we get through discussing it,
 5   certainly.   Is there any other discussion?    What this motion
 6   would do then is include this as another alternative.    It does
 7   not select it, or any of the others, as a preferred.     It just
 8   allows us to get some analysis on this, to see if maybe there is
 9   some merit in moving in this direction and possibly allay some
10   of Julie’s and mine and Roy’s concerns.
11
12   Without any further discussion, or indication of        further
13   discussion, is there objection to including this        in the
14   amendment? Seeing none, the motion passes.
15
16   MR. GILL:   Relative to Alternative 4, being a firm believer in
17   the KISS system, and I note that the SSC concurs and it was also
18   the AP recommendation, I move that we move Alternative 4 to the
19   Considered but Rejected category.
20
21   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    There’s a motion on the floor.   Is there a
22   second?
23
24   MS. WALKER:   Second.
25
26   CHAIRMAN MINTON:  Ms. Walker seconds the motion.   Is there any
27   discussion?  I think with adding the SSC’s alternative in that
28   this one no longer really needs to be in there, because it’s 70
29   percent or some other percentage. Any objection to the motion?
30   Hearing none, the motion carries.       Is there any further
31   discussion?
32
33   DR. CRABTREE:   I don’t view Alternative 3 as really a viable
34   option. It’s difficult for me to see how we could close gag and
35   have the rest of the fishery remain open, or vice versa.      I
36   think I would move, and I will move, that we remove Alternative
37   3 to Considered but Rejected.
38
39   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    There’s a motion on the floor.   Is there a
40   second?
41
42   MS. WALKER:   Second.
43
44   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   It’s seconded by Ms. Walker.
45
46   MR. ATRAN: I just wanted to remind you that the AP -- That is
47   their recommended alternative.
48


                                     125
 1   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Any discussion?
 2
 3   MS. MORRIS:   Steve, can you explain to us why the AP preferred
 4   this alternative and how did their discussion deal with the
 5   discard mortality that seems to be necessary if this becomes the
 6   actual management action?
 7
 8   MR. ATRAN:   Stu, I think, will respond.
 9
10   MR. KENNEDY: As I remember it, they did not really have a long
11   discussion.   They recognized that it would cause bycatch
12   problems, but it was the more lenient of the two of them and
13   they felt they should be able to fish all of their quota, or
14   more of it. That’s the reason, as best I can remember.
15
16   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Did they consider, Stu, the future and
17   accountability measures and that if by this alternative it
18   allows these overruns that they could be looking at some
19   closures?
20
21   MR. KENNEDY:    They did discuss that, in the sense that they
22   wouldn’t be taken off in the beginning, the bycatch issues, but
23   they would come back during the assessment period and that would
24   potentially cause a problem.   They did that on several cases,
25   they talked about bycatch.
26
27   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Further discussion?
28
29   MR. GILL: I’m going to speak in opposition to the motion. It
30   seems to me that every alternative that we have on the table
31   here has problems and it comes down to choosing your poison. I
32   think we need to leave it in there and flesh it out a little bit
33   further.
34
35   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Any other discussion?
36
37   DR. CRABTREE: I don’t disagree with you on that, Bob. I think
38   the only really good solution to getting out of this is
39   something along the lines of an IFQ type approach.   I would be
40   more interested in pursuing a couple of variations of the SSC’s
41   recommendation or something along those lines, because it just
42   seems to me that Alternative 3 is just going to result in large
43   amounts of waste and bycatch.
44
45   I’m agreeable, if staff can come up with a variant or two, of
46   Alternative 5. It says -- It has the 5, 2, 10 percents. Maybe
47   there’s a couple of variants that could be looked at in order to
48   try and find different ways around this, but it just seems to me


                                     126
 1   that Alternative 3 just really isn’t acceptable,            given   the
 2   levels of discards that would likely occur.
 3
 4   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Thank you, Roy.    Would you like to respond,
 5   Bob?
 6
 7   MR. GILL:   Roy, I agree with that.     I think the goal of the
 8   SSC’s alternative is worthy, but I think it’s a little complex
 9   in its own right and if I think if we flesh out some variants,
10   as Roy suggested, it would be a good idea.
11
12   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   So you’re agreeing and disagreeing?
13
14   MR. GILL:   A nice middle-of-the-road position.
15
16   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Let’s vote on this.   I think this first one
17   we’re going to have to actually do a vote. All in favor of the
18   motion to move Alternative 3 to Considered but Rejected signify
19   by saying aye; opposed same sign. The motion carries. Is there
20   any other discussion on Action 8?
21
22   MS. MORRIS: Because we like the new Alternative 5, but we don’t
23   have any analysis and we’re not sure how it works, we’re not
24   going to choose a preferred alternative in this section, is that
25   right?
26
27   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   That would be my feel also, Julie.    I think
28   with Roy’s discussion and also Bob’s, and with the SSC, what we
29   would like to see under the new alternative is some additional
30   analysis as to what those percentages might be and possibly some
31   sub-alternatives, or something along that line, to give us a
32   better idea of where we’re headed with this. At this point, I
33   don’t think, unless someone has a strong feeling that we need to
34   pick a preferred, I think we need more analysis before we get
35   there.
36
37   MR. ATRAN:   I was just going to say as far as the request to
38   perhaps develop some variations on the SSC alternative that we
39   can do that, but I just wanted to make sure you realize it won’t
40   be for tomorrow.   We would go back to our IPT team to work on
41   that and bring it to you in January.
42
43   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Certainly.   With that, move us along.
44
45   MR. ATRAN:   The next action is Action 9, which the discussion
46   begins on page 47.   There is, on page 48, a table of what the
47   recreational allocation would be under various combinations of
48   TAC, whether we do the MSY or the OY-based TAC, and which years


                                      127
 1   we use for a baseline.
 2
 3   This tells us what percent reduction is needed on both the
 4   commercial and the recreational side under those allocations to
 5   reduce overfishing. The alternatives -- There’s some discussion
 6   about how bag limits and size limits and closed seasons will
 7   affect the catch on the recreational side.
 8
 9   The alternatives themselves begin on page 54 to 55, but what we
10   have here is just a selection of -- We happened to select seven
11   alternatives out of a much larger universe of potential
12   combinations of bag limits, size limits and closed seasons that
13   could be applied to the recreational fishery to try to get a
14   reduction in gag.
15
16   We were looking at also an increase in red grouper.       I’m not
17   sure how Roy’s earlier comments about we’re already at the
18   appropriate fishing mortality rate would factor into this.
19
20   For purposes of putting these alternatives together, we assumed
21   that we are going to use Fmax or FOY, based upon the Fmax, as
22   our target and, Andy, were we using the longest time series or
23   the most recent time series for the allocation? Do you recall?
24   We were using the longest time series for allocation.
25
26   I would like to call your attention to page 59. Rather than the
27   seven alternatives that are listed, page 59 has a table of a
28   large number of combinations that Andy Strelcheck had worked up,
29   giving combinations of gag bag limits, red grouper bag limits,
30   aggregate bag limits, size changes for either gag or red
31   grouper, and various closed seasons and then the percent change
32   expected from gag harvest and in red grouper harvest by the
33   recreational sector.
34
35   Then the final column is if the closed season were to apply only
36   to gag and black, rather than gag, black, and red, how much the
37   change in red grouper would vary, as opposed to having the
38   closure on all three of those species.
39
40   This is    one of those sections that we still need to work on,
41   because   we’re not sure right now where the allocation is going
42   to be.     That’s going to affect how much of a percent reduction
43   we need   and I’m not sure where Roy’s comments about we’re at the
44   fishing    mortality that we want to be at right now for red
45   grouper   would factor into this.
46
47   As I said, I would just refer you to the Table 2.9.10 on page 59
48   for basically the whole universe of recreational scenarios


                                     128
 1   that’s been drawn up and see if there are specific scenarios you
 2   would like us to include as alternatives for further analysis or
 3   if we should be targeting different percent reductions and
 4   increases. The alternatives are on page 54 and 55. The table
 5   I’m referring to is on page 59.
 6
 7   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    I’ve got a question for Andy.    What is the
 8   current percentage reduction in harvest with the February 15th to
 9   March 15th closure in the recreational sector?
10
11   MR. ANDY STRELCHECK: It’s approximately 7 to 8 percent for gag
12   grouper and on the order of 4 percent for red grouper and that’s
13   been taken into consideration, since it’s such a new regulation.
14
15   DR. CRABTREE:    Andy, when you do that though, that analysis
16   assumed that we would have a compatible closure with the State
17   of Florida, which we have not had, and so it seems to me that it
18   would be overestimating the impact of that.
19
20   I know it’s hard to look back at the MRFSS data, but it seems to
21   me at this point we should assume that that one-month closure is
22   going to be significantly less effective than the initial
23   analysis   indicates,   because Florida   has   not  implemented
24   compatible regulations.
25
26   I think, and we’ll come back to this with red snapper, that
27   we’ve got to start taking into account whether we have
28   compatible regulations with states or not when we look at how
29   these work.
30
31   CHAIRMAN MINTON: As I recall, and I’m probably wrong, but I did
32   argue against this closure when it was first brought up and I
33   recall that we were estimating, at that time, that it would give
34   us a 3 to 4 percent reduction and now you’re saying 7 percent.
35   Are you taking into account --
36
37   MR. STRELCHECK:   Keep in mind that that was proposed when we
38   were dealing with red grouper and the reduction is approximately
39   3 to 4 percent for red grouper.
40
41   CHAIRMAN MINTON: As a scientist, considering the variability in
42   the MRFSS data, is 3 to 4 percent measurable? In other words,
43   can you tell the difference between 3 to 4 and 5 to 6 and 7 to 8
44   in terms of the data that’s coming in that’s used in the
45   analysis?
46
47   MR. STRELCHECK: We try to use a time series of at least several
48   years so that we get an average that would take into account


                                    129
 1   some of that variability and changes from one year to the next.
 2   It’s just an average, essentially, a reduction estimate.
 3
 4   CHAIRMAN MINTON:     Bill, can you tell us what your state
 5   estimated the economic impact of that 3 to 4 percent would have
 6   been on the State of Florida?
 7
 8   MR. TEEHAN: Not right at this point.         I can’t tell you what the
 9   economic numbers are.
10
11   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Could you say at this point it was significant
12   or it was projected to be significant?
13
14   MR. TEEHAN:   Probably, but I don’t have the numbers.
15
16   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   It’s a thick limb.       Go ahead.
17
18   MR. TEEHAN: No, I’m sitting on the trunk right now. I can find
19   out.   I don’t know if we’ve done any economic analysis within
20   the agency on this.
21
22   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Thank you.       Roy, you popped your hand up?
23
24   DR. CRABTREE:   Nothing for now.
25
26   MR. ATRAN:   I didn’t give you the SSC and AP recommendations.
27   The SSC apparently had quite a bit of discussion and went
28   through several motions and substitute motions and basically,
29   they were looking to try and keep things the same until they
30   could get better information or establish a three grouper
31   aggregate and no season.
32
33   However, the substitute motion that finally passed on the AP was
34   that in order to have no closed recreational season that the AP
35   recommends a five to three fish bag limit of any grouper and
36   then, if necessary, up to a twenty-four-inch minimum size limit
37   for gag grouper. They were putting their emphasis on trying to
38   avoid having a closed season for the recreational grouper
39   fishery.
40
41   The SSC punted. They, by consensus, felt that the selection of
42   an appropriate harvest regulation scenario is a fishermen’s
43   preference and not a scientific issue.
44
45   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   We have multiple punts here.
46
47   DR. CRABTREE:       I have      a     couple of comments about the
48   alternatives in    general.         One, I don’t see any point in


                                          130
 1   considering increases in the gag minimum size limit beyond where
 2   it is now. We have yield per recruit analyses, where Clay Porch
 3   is here and could comment on them, but the size limits are
 4   already set higher than the maximum yield per recruit and we
 5   know we have significant numbers of dead discards in the
 6   recreational fishery of gag.
 7
 8   I would move that we go ahead and take any alternatives that
 9   involve increases in the gag minimum size limit and remove them
10   from further consideration.
11
12   MS. MORRIS:   Second.
13
14   CHAIRMAN MORRIS: There is a motion and a second and I have to
15   agree that it seems very appropriate.   We’ve tried that and it
16   just creates additional problems and we do have to address this
17   discard mortality rate.    Is there further discussion on the
18   motion?
19
20   MS. WALKER:   Remind me, Roy, again, the perfect size for yield
21   per recruit is how many inches in gag and the release mortality
22   in recreational is what percentage?
23
24   DR. CRABTREE: I think the approximate release mortality in the
25   recreational fishery was on the order of 20 percent and I think
26   the size that maximizes yield per recruit varies from fishery to
27   fishery, because they’re much higher -- I think in the longline
28   fishery that the average release mortality rate was closer to 65
29   percent and so in that particular fishery, the size that
30   maximizes yield per recruit would be much less than in some of
31   the other fisheries, but Andy is looking through the document.
32
33   MR. ATRAN:     The   release   mortalities   are   on   page   8   in   the
34   document.
35
36   MS. WALKER:    What was the size limit to maximize yield per
37   recruit on recreational?
38
39   MR. STRELCHECK:   Looking at the Science Center’s yield per
40   recruit analysis, they didn’t break it out by fishing sector,
41   but across the entire fishery with the size limits they
42   analyzed, it was sixteen inches for maximizing yield per
43   recruit.
44
45   CHAIRMAN MINTON:     As Roy just said, that’s going to vary
46   tremendously between the two fisheries, isn’t it, Andy?        It
47   might be thirteen or fourteen in the commercial fishery, in the
48   deepwater fishery, but maybe twenty in the recreational fishery.


                                       131
 1
 2   MR. STRELCHECK:      It will be contingent       largely    on   the
 3   selectivity of each of those fisheries.
 4
 5   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   I think that’s the number we need.
 6
 7   MS. MORRIS: I was going to bring up a new topic.        Is that okay
 8   or are we still working on the yield per recruit?
 9
10   CHAIRMAN MINTON: If you’ll hold, I’ll come back. We do have a
11   motion on the board and it’s basically to remove anything that
12   increases the size limit on gag.     We have discussed it.   Is
13   there any other discussion?      Is there any objection to the
14   motion?   Hearing none, that carries and, staff, if you’ll take
15   care of that, it will be appreciated. Go ahead, Julie.
16
17   MS. MORRIS: I’m staring at this Table on 2.9.10 and I’m looking
18   for combinations of bag, size and seasons that accomplish what
19   we’re looking for.    Could somebody remind me how much of an
20   increase in red harvest -- What percentage increase in red
21   harvest is deemed acceptable, based on the SEDAR advice and the
22   SSC advice?
23
24   MR. ATRAN: There’s a table on page 48. I believe this is the
25   functional one, Table 2.9.1, that looks at various combinations
26   of TAC and allocations and I believe the IPT, for purposes of
27   doing analysis and putting together some alternatives, assumed
28   that we would be doing the OY TAC, which is 3.13 million pounds,
29   and the longest time series for allocation, which would be 1986
30   to 2005, which gives the recreational sector 61 percent of gag
31   and the commercial 39 percent.
32
33   Under those conditions, there would need to be a 45 percent
34   reduction in both the recreational and the commercial gag
35   harvest in order to end overfishing.
36
37   MS. MORRIS:   I’m sorry, Steve, but my question was about red.
38   I’m asking about how much we can increase red harvest.
39
40   MR. ATRAN:   We have a table for red grouper as well, if I can
41   find it.
42
43   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    While Steve is looking for that, go ahead,
44   Andy.
45
46   MR. STRELCHECK:   Julie, this hopefully will help you out a
47   little bit.  My page numbers don’t seem to be consistent with
48   Steve’s, but looking at the document, on page 38 it discusses


                                     132
 1   estimated increases in red grouper recreational harvest.
 2
 3   One of the problems that we’ve struggled with is that the
 4   recreational fishery isn’t managed by a quota and so we don’t
 5   know the potential increase in harvest that might occur based on
 6   comparing status quo conditions with new management measures,
 7   especially since there appears to be a falloff in recruitment
 8   coinciding with the recent red grouper recreational management
 9   measures imposed in 2006.
10
11   We’ve presented it more as a range of values and it largely
12   depends on how much the recreational sector could harvest under
13   average recruitment conditions, if those return to the fishery.
14
15   MS. MORRIS: Once again, I’m looking at Table 2.9.11, that Steve
16   directed our attention to, and it shows reductions in gag
17   harvests and increases or reductions in red harvest and so I’m
18   looking for a strategy that involves size and bag and season
19   that accomplishes both the reductions in gag and the allowable
20   increases in red.
21
22   I need to know a percentage number of what the allowable
23   increases in red are in order to use this table as a tool to
24   figure out what our preferred alternatives are.
25
26   Andy, I didn’t hear you say what you thought the percentage
27   increase in red could be.    Is it just really hard to say and
28   that’s what you’re telling us?    I don’t know how to use the
29   table if we don’t have an allowable percentage increase in red,
30   based on the scientific advice.
31
32   DR. CRABTREE:   I think the best way to think about is the red
33   grouper management restrictions that are in place now are
34   exactly the right level of restriction that’s needed in the
35   fishery and so if, for example, you want to increase the
36   recreational red grouper bag limit, you’re going to have to show
37   where else are you reducing fishing mortality in red grouper
38   that would offset the increase that would come from increasing
39   the bag limit.
40
41   An example is if you want to go up to two or three on the red
42   grouper bag limit, you’re going to need to have a closed season
43   in place that would compensate so that it is neutral with
44   respect to fishing mortality or you’re going to have to come in
45   and look at how you’re going to do the allocation and have some
46   discussion of how the fish trap phase-out plays into that.
47
48   Basically,   anything   that   you   do    that   would   increase   fishing


                                          133
 1   mortality on red grouper is going to have to be offset somewhere
 2   else, either in terms of closed seasons or something else like
 3   that. There’s not a magic number in terms of the landings that
 4   you’re looking at and I don’t think that this table is going to
 5   give you that.
 6
 7   I think you need to focus in on what’s going to get you where
 8   you need to be with gag and then look at what impact will that
 9   have on red grouper. For example, if you decide to get where we
10   need to be on gag is that we’re going to have a three-month
11   closure of the recreational grouper fishery, now you can go in
12   and let’s look at where does that leave us on red grouper and we
13   can probably increase the bag limit some, because we’ve got that
14   closed season in place.    Does that make sense, Julie, and is
15   that helpful?
16
17   MS. MORRIS:   Yes, thank you.
18
19   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Roy, how do we get there from here until we
20   set some kind of an allocation?
21
22   DR. CRABTREE: That’s going to be a little bit difficult. All I
23   can point out though is the allocation you have, at least for
24   red grouper, are within 1 percent of each other and they’re not
25   that much different for gag, a few percentage points.
26
27   It’s not going to be that different to begin with, but it will
28   make some difference in it.   I don’t know how to resolve that
29   until we make a choice there.
30
31   MS. MORRIS: Just building on what Roy was saying, the range of
32   allocation measures that we set out called for a range in
33   recreational gag grouper harvest reductions between 41 and 45
34   percent.   I think we can work with that range.   I don’t think
35   it’s unmanageable. We’re looking for something that reduces the
36   recreational harvest between 41 and 45 percent.
37
38   DR. CRABTREE:    Another general comment I would like to make
39   about the recreational alternatives is they seem to focus in on
40   closed seasons being gag, black, and red grouper.    I think it
41   would be more appropriate to have the closed seasons focus on
42   the shallow-water grouper complex.
43
44   I think, given the directives for annual catch limits and the
45   way we’re going to end up going, that’s what we’re going to end
46   up doing anyway.      I would make a motion that in these
47   alternatives the references to gag, black grouper, and red
48   grouper be replaced with shallow-water grouper and that we


                                     134
 1   manage this group as a complex.
 2
 3   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    There’s a motion on the floor.   Is there a
 4   second?
 5
 6   MR. GILL:   I’ll second it.
 7
 8   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Seconded by Mr. Gill.    Is there discussion?
 9   Roy, do you want to give some more rationale?
10
11   DR. CRABTREE:    It’s just based on what we’ve seen, the only
12   reason it’s red, gag, and -- The motion would be red, gag, and
13   black grouper.    The only reason I think it’s focused on just
14   those three species is that what was done in that one-month
15   closure   originally  for  the   commercial fishery  and  then
16   subsequently.
17
18   Really, where I think we need to get to is managing the shallow-
19   water grouper complex. I think we’re there and have been on the
20   commercial side and are managing it that way, but I think it is
21   a multispecies fishery on the recreational side as well. All of
22   the information we have indicates that while yes, some people
23   can target one species more than another, the bycatch of the
24   various species are fairly common.
25
26   I think when we go down the annual catch limits discussion that
27   we’re going to look at framing a shallow-water grouper complex.
28   I don’t think you’re going to want to have an annual catch limit
29   for red, black, and gag and then separate annual catch limits
30   for the other grouper species. I just don’t think that’s going
31   to be functional.
32
33   It just seems to make sense to me to treat it as a complex and
34   we’ve always come at this with an aggregate bag limit and other
35   types of things and so I think it’s just a more consistent
36   approach and I think it’s more consistent with how we’re
37   handling the commercial side.
38
39   MR. GILL:    Roy, would you discuss a little bit about the
40   potential impact of this motion on our options here for Action
41   9?
42
43   DR. CRABTREE:   I don’t think that it would have a significant
44   impact, because most of the species it brings in have very low
45   recreational landings.   Steve, I guess the scamp would be the
46   next most -- The only one with really significant landings. The
47   other ones, like yellowmouth and some of the other ones in the
48   shallow-water grouper complex, I think probably have very


                                       135
 1   minimal recreational landings, don’t they?
 2
 3   MR. ATRAN:   All of the other shallow-water groupers combined,
 4   after you remove red grouper and gag, constitute less than 5
 5   percent of the recreational catch, but you’re correct that
 6   scamp, I believe, is a distant number three and I know at least
 7   one of our SSC members has had some concerns about the true
 8   black grouper, which we’ve tried to get some stock assessments
 9   in the past and haven’t been able to schedule it.
10
11   DR. CRABTREE:   I think most all of the impacts on the fishery
12   from what we’re doing come from the regulations on red and gag.
13   I think when you add in the remainder of the shallow-water
14   complex that it’s a very low amount of fish.
15
16   MS. WALKER:   Roy, how would we handle -- Would we handle scamp
17   like we do in the commercial fishery, where when the shallow-
18   water grouper fishery, the TAC has been taken, then it moves to
19   deep water?      How are we going to handle scamp in the
20   recreational fishery?
21
22   DR. CRABTREE:   I suppose we could do that.    That’s something
23   we’ll need to decide and we don’t -- Right now, depending on
24   what we do with the aggregate bag limit -- Right now, the
25   aggregate recreational bag limit includes shallow-water and
26   deepwater and we probably ought to address that in some fashion
27   in here, too.
28
29   I guess you could do something along those lines, Bobbi. Maybe
30   some more analysis could give us some guidance on that, by
31   looking at are scamp more commonly caught in association with
32   shallow-water grouper recreationally.  I think the recreational
33   landings for deepwater grouper are in general very low in the
34   Gulf, but maybe that’s something we need to take a look at and
35   give some thought to.
36
37   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Where do you want to head with this?   If we
38   can’t pick alternatives, are there other suggestions?
39
40   MR. ATRAN:   We still have a motion on the board.
41
42   CHAIRMAN MINTON: I thought we took care of that. The motion on
43   the board is to change references to red, gag, and black grouper
44   to shallow-water grouper as a complex.      Is there objection?
45   Hearing none, the motion carries.
46
47   Back to where I was at a minute ago, we do need additional
48   analysis. In terms of this section, should we possibly, and I’m


                                     136
 1   asking the committee, look at this in terms of what other things
 2   we would like to see in here from the Southeast Center or from
 3   staff that would help us come to closure on establishing these?
 4
 5   I don’t think we can pick preferred at this time and so I’ll
 6   leave   that  open   to   the  committee,   I   guess  with   the
 7   recommendation that if we don’t hear anything else then we’re
 8   going to move on, in the interest of time, I guess.      Is there
 9   anything anyone sees that we would like to have additionally?
10
11   I would like to see in the document, and it just makes it easier
12   for me to go through it, where you list these alternatives and
13   with the closures, could we, in the alternatives, possibly, in
14   parentheses,   have  the   percent  reductions  that   would  be
15   accompanied there, rather than having to flip back and forth to
16   a table?   I think it would make it simpler just to look at,
17   possibly, both for each species.
18
19   MR. ATRAN:   That was actually in there in one of the earlier
20   drafts and it got left out when the alternatives were rewritten.
21   It will be in there.
22
23   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Okay, good.
24
25   MS. WALKER:   Steve, correct me if I’m wrong, but I understood
26   that a large problem with the recreational fishery were
27   discards, was the number of discards associated with the
28   recreational fishery.    Do you have any idea what the outcome
29   would be if we just lowered the aggregate bag limit from five to
30   three and allowed the angler to choose which species?
31
32   MR. ATRAN:   I think this Table 2.9.10 has some options that do
33   involve lowering only the aggregate bag limit.    In the case of
34   the recreational discards, one thing I would remind you is the
35   original stock assessment had overestimated the biomass of dead
36   discards, because it was applying the size distribution of the
37   entire fishery, rather than the size distribution of the
38   undersized fish to the numbers being thrown back.
39
40   When that was corrected, we still have the same number of fish
41   as a discard, but the weight went down significantly.  I think
42   it was less than half of what it had been before. We still do
43   have a discard problem, but it’s not as bad as the original
44   stock assessment had indicated.
45
46   MS. WALKER:   I don’t see what you just mentioned in Table
47   2.9.10, where we have an aggregate of three, where the angler
48   chooses. Can you tell me which line it’s on?


                                      137
 1
 2   MR. ATRAN: I don’t think you have a three. You have -- Let’s
 3   see, if you go down, the first one that has only an aggregate
 4   bag limit change is about halfway down and that would reduce the
 5   aggregate bag limit to two fish with no change in size limits, a
 6   January 1st to May 15th closed season, and that would have a 47
 7   percent reduction in gag harvest and a 2 percent reduction in
 8   red grouper harvest.
 9
10   If we keep on going down, there’s two others, about three-
11   quarters of the way down, and again, they’re only looking at a
12   two fish aggregate bag limit. These involve increasing the gag
13   minimum size limits, but you’ve already thrown those out through
14   a previous motion.
15
16   What we have on here, as far as what’s going to remain, is we
17   only have one motion that’s purely changing the aggregate limit
18   and letting the fishermen catch as much as they want within that
19   limit of grouper species and that’s a two fish bag limit. Andy
20   has his hand raised up and I assume that we can get some more
21   analysis on that.
22
23   MR. STRELCHECK:   Table 2.9.6 should directly address what you
24   were asking for.      It shows decreases in gag harvest and
25   increases in red grouper harvest, if only an aggregate bag limit
26   is imposed without any species specific bag limits.
27
28   CHAIRMAN MINTON:     Bobbi, is that what you wanted?
29
30   MS. WALKER:   Yes.
31
32   DR. CRABTREE: I think one of the things that I’ve heard from a
33   lot of fishermen is that a lot of our bag limits are just too
34   high and one of the cases I’ve heard that of is grouper.
35
36   I would move that we not consider any aggregate bag limits
37   higher than three fish. I know we have to have the status quo,
38   which is five, but I really just don’t see that we’re going to
39   get anywhere and that there’s much to be gained by looking at
40   aggregate bag limits of above three fish.
41
42   Along those lines, bear in mind that the likelihood of
43   triggering accountability measures, when they go in place, is
44   going to be affected by this and so we just need to start moving
45   towards some more conservative management with it. It will have
46   relatively little impact on anyone.
47
48   We’re going to end up with an aggregate or a bag limit of gag


                                       138
 1   that’s going to be, I suspect, one or two. I don’t think we’re
 2   going to be able to raise the red grouper bag limit beyond two,
 3   possibly three, and I just don’t think there’s much reason to
 4   really have a bag limit that high anymore.
 5
 6   I’ve had a lot of fishermen talk to me about that, as well as
 7   the twenty fish bag limits we have in a lot of cases, that we
 8   just don’t need that many fish. I think having those high bag
 9   limits sets you up for the potential to have a very high overrun
10   when you have high recruitment of something and then have very
11   painful accountability mechanisms come in.
12
13   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Before we go much further, let’s see if you
14   get a second. The motion is do not consider any aggregate bag
15   limits higher than three fish. Is there a second?
16
17   MS. MORRIS:   Second.
18
19   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Second by Ms. Morris and now you may continue.
20
21   DR. CRABTREE: I apologize, but I think I said most of my piece
22   on it in terms of my rationale.
23
24   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Very good.
25
26   MR. RIECHERS: If I’m keeping score, and I certainly don’t know
27   that I am keeping score correctly on this one, but that would
28   leave us just with Alternative 1 and Alternative 3, as I’m
29   reading the document at this point in time.
30
31   DR. CRABTREE:    I think then staff could come up with some
32   additional ranges of working with the confines of a three fish
33   aggregate for different combinations of closed seasons and
34   things within that.   I’m not trying to reduce the numbers of
35   alternatives, but I’m just trying to get them into a more
36   realistic and more likely range of things that we need to look
37   at.
38
39   MR. RIECHERS: May I respond? That’s fine, Roy. I just want to
40   make the point that obviously it’s going to take more staff work
41   and you’re always concerned about that and how that slows our
42   process a little bit. Just be aware of that as we try to work
43   through those new combinations, if your motion passes.
44
45   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   I’ve got a question for Andy.     Under Table
46   2.9.10, you take the aggregate limits down to two, I believe is
47   the lowest you get to, and you’re still looking at closures. Is
48   there any combination, other than zero, that can eliminate a


                                     139
 1   closure?
 2
 3   MR. STRELCHECK:  No, not without species-specific bag limits.
 4   Even then, I think you’re going to still need some sort of
 5   closure.
 6
 7   CHAIRMAN MINTON: You realize that’s the poison pill that really
 8   hurts worse, I think, than anything else in terms of economics,
 9   at least. Then even if you are closed and you’ve got boats out
10   there, we’re still going to have some mortality, I would suspect
11   anyway. Are there other comments?
12
13   MR. TEEHAN:   I’m not sure if this is the appropriate place to
14   put this, because you have a motion on the board, but I would
15   like to consider an alternative, if there is a three fish bag
16   limit, that the composition is any species that the harvester
17   wants, be it black, gag, or red.
18
19   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Why don’t we come back?     Let’s dispose of this
20   motion and then I’ll come back to you and    we may need a motion
21   to take that up. We have a motion on the     floor. Is there any
22   objection to the motion? Hearing none, the   motion passes.
23
24   MR. TEEHAN:   Do you want this in the form of a motion?
25
26   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Yes.
27
28   MR. TEEHAN: I would like to add an alternative that would allow
29   a three fish aggregate bag limit with the angler to decide the
30   composition of gag, red, or black.
31
32   CHAIRMAN MINTON: We’ll need some pretty fine analysis on that,
33   Bill. Before we go on, is there a second?
34
35   MR. GILL:   I’ll second it.
36
37   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   It’s seconded by Mr. Gill.
38
39   DR. CRABTREE: Just to clarify, this is an aggregate grouper bag
40   limit and so I think what you really -- Don’t you mean that you
41   would like to see an alternative with a three fish aggregate bag
42   limit and no specific other components to it and not focusing it
43   on black, red, or gag? Maybe it is the same thing functionally,
44   I guess. Is it?
45
46   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Are you saying, Bill, that if they had a scamp
47   or something like that that’s part of the three?
48


                                     140
 1   MR. TEEHAN:   What we’ve talked about in my office is basically
 2   black, red, and gag and it’s just a three fish and you’re out
 3   kind of a scenario. I don’t know about adding scamp.
 4
 5   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Since it’s part of the complex.
 6
 7   MR. TEEHAN:   Then I guess you would have to.
 8
 9   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   At least the deepwater.
10
11   MS. WALKER: I guess I would have to ask Steve, on page 52, that
12   Table 2.9.7, it shows reductions in grouper harvest, all species
13   associated with various aggregate bag limits. Am I reading this
14   right that if we went to an aggregate bag limit of three fish
15   with   a  20   percent  reduction   that  we’re   only  reducing
16   recreational harvest 6.3 percent?
17
18   MR. ATRAN:     Yes, that is correct.       Don’t forget in the
19   recreational fishery the average number of grouper caught is
20   only -- I think it’s a little under two fish per angler per trip
21   and so until you go down to about a two fish bag limit, you
22   don’t get very good percentage reductions.
23
24   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Bobbi, do you have a follow-up?
25
26   MS. WALKER:   Based on this, with a three fish aggregate and us
27   not limiting gag at all in the aggregate, we’re nowhere near
28   where we need to be. I don’t know if we need the analysis for
29   this type of a --
30
31   MS. MORRIS: I’m still hung up on 2.9.10 and if you scroll down
32   in that table, it has an option down near the bottom where you
33   have a three fish bag limit and three of those fish can be gag.
34   In order to get the reductions that you need, you would have to
35   have a really long closed season, November 1 to April 30th.
36
37   If there’s no specific gag limit within a three fish bag limit,
38   the potential, especially in the northern Gulf, is that all
39   three of those bag limit fish are going to be gags and if all
40   three of them are gags, we’re going to have to have almost a
41   six-month closure in order to achieve the reductions that we’re
42   looking for in gag harvest. I don’t think this is workable.
43
44   DR. CRABTREE: Julie is exactly right. You can do this and you
45   can have a three fish aggregate bag, but you’re going to have an
46   extensive seasonal closure of five or six months.     Now, there
47   may be fishermen out there who would prefer that to having a low
48   bag limit.   There may be some subset of fishermen who would


                                     141
 1   rather have a significantly shorter season, but when they go and
 2   spend the money to go, they can bring home more fish. I don’t
 3   know.
 4
 5   I think you could certainly get to where we need to be through
 6   this approach, but it needs to be clear and the public needs to
 7   understand that if we go with a three fish aggregate that
 8   there’s an extensive closed season that would have to be in
 9   place.
10
11   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Also, I think that’s going to be area-specific
12   too, Roy.   Some folks in different areas would rather have the
13   closure at certain times and some would rather not.
14
15   DR. CRABTREE: We’ve seen that in virtually every fishery we’ve
16   ever managed, I think.
17
18   MR. TEEHAN: Just a point of clarification. I think the motion
19   should read: “A three fish aggregate bag limit” and the purpose
20   of putting this up here, or my intent, is just to have that
21   analysis.
22
23   MS. WALKER: Bill, I’m going to support it, because of what Roy
24   just said. There may be people out there that would prefer that
25   and the longer closure and if we leave it in the document, then
26   at least we’ll get comments on it.
27
28   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Good point.   Is there any other discussion?
29
30   MR. SIMPSON:   Mr. Chairman, I’m not on your committee and it’s
31   not discussion, but in listening to the comments about this, I’m
32   reminded why I gave up duck hunting.
33
34   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   You would go today though, wouldn’t you?       It
35   hasn’t turned around, hasn’t it, at least in the duck world?      Is
36   there any further discussion?
37
38   MR. KENNEDY:   Sorry, but one thing.    Since you made a motion
39   that was approved a little while ago to change any discussion of
40   black, red, and gag to shallow-water grouper, should you do that
41   in this one before you approve it or disapprove it?
42
43   DR. CRABTREE: To me, this should just say to add an alternative
44   with a three fish aggregate grouper bag limit and I don’t think
45   you need to mention any of those other species. That would be
46   the implication then, that it’s a three fish aggregate bag limit
47   with no specific species restrictions in it.
48


                                      142
 1   CHAIRMAN MINTON: That’s a good point. Thank you, Stu. I think
 2   if I look at the maker of the motion, do you agree to that?
 3   Make sure we get individual analyses, too.
 4
 5   DR. CRABTREE: Bill, would this alternative also have a seasonal
 6   closure component attached to it that gets us to the reductions
 7   needed or is this just a stand-alone alternative that will get
 8   about a 3 percent reduction and really wouldn’t be doable in and
 9   of itself?
10
11   MR. TEEHAN: No, I think we need to look at the analysis and see
12   what variables come out of it and bring that out to the public
13   and see how they feel about it. If it’s got a long closure, as
14   you said earlier, but yet it gives more fish and they’re happy
15   with that, then that’s fine, but we need to see that in the
16   document, I think.
17
18   MR. ATRAN:    My understanding from this motion is that we’re
19   going to remove or not consider any alternatives that would have
20   a four fish bag limit on them.    Five fish has to be in there,
21   because that’s status quo, but we would primarily be looking at
22   combinations of scenarios that do involve a three fish or a two
23   fish bag limit.
24
25   If you want us to look at one fish, we could look at that as
26   well, but my feeling is that you want us to look at -- We would
27   have to combine this with some other measures and right now, the
28   only other measure you’ve made available to us is closed
29   seasons.   The only other thing I could possibly think of would
30   be regional closures.
31
32   MS. WALKER:   Steve, since we’ll be including scamp, and I know
33   that you said it’s 5 percent or less in the harvest, but will
34   that change Table 2.9.10, when one of the three fish could be a
35   scamp or all three could be scamp? Is that going to change?
36
37   MR. ATRAN:    Andy put the table together, but I believe the
38   aggregate   catches  were based  upon  all  grouper  catches,
39   regardless of species.
40
41   CHAIRMAN MINTON:      Andy, do you want to say something on the
42   record with that?
43
44   MR. STRELCHECK:     Steve is correct.
45
46   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Are we ready to move on with this thing?
47   We’ve got a motion on the board to add an alternative with a
48   three fish aggregate grouper bag limit.  Is there objection?


                                       143
 1   Without objection, the motion carries.
 2
 3   MS. MORRIS: I’m looking at the same table I keep looking at and
 4   I’m wondering if the recreational harvesters on the committee
 5   and on the council would like to comment on, for their part of
 6   the Gulf, which of these unpleasant closed season alternatives
 7   seem like they’re the most workable for your recreational
 8   harvest.
 9
10   That’s really what it kind of comes down to, is which time of
11   year are we going to have a closed season and how long is that
12   closed season going to last.    If you are trying to get us to
13   move towards a preferred alternative, Mr. Chairman, it seems
14   like that’s where the conversation has to go next.
15
16   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   It’s my fear that we’re not going to be able
17   to get to a preferred at this meeting. I think there’s too much
18   analysis that has to be done to frame this to where we can make
19   informed decisions.   I do think that you’re right in terms of
20   different areas having different preferences, but I think we
21   need to look at that in terms of percentages.
22
23   If you look at the harvest of     these species, help me, Bill or
24   Andy, but 90-something percent     is coming from Florida.    If we
25   were to set it up to where it     had the least impact on Florida,
26   we may not do anything in terms   of having a percent reduction.
27
28   I think we really need to consider where we’re going to get our
29   best bang for it and, Andy, when the analyses were done, did you
30   weight the area where harvest was coming from in the analysis?
31   If you look at the harvest off of Alabama, there’s not going to
32   be a whole lot in that area in terms of percentage of the
33   harvest and so I’m assuming that these closures are primarily
34   looking at what would happen off of Florida and probably being
35   inclusive of a Florida state water closure and is that correct?
36
37   MR. STRELCHECK:      That’s correct.     It assumes compatible
38   regulations, one, and it’s not weighted by area fished or state
39   fished.   It’s Gulf-wide landings and the reductions associated
40   with closing particular months during that fishing season.
41
42   DR. CRABTREE:   I have one comment.    The periods that are in
43   these alternatives for closures right now I think focus around
44   the spawning season for gag in general.    It makes sense to me
45   that if we’re going to have a seasonal closure in the fishery to
46   center it around the spawning season for gag, because I think
47   there’s general feeling among people that protecting spawning
48   fish is probably a good thing.


                                       144
 1
 2   The other thing I would ask too is, Bill Teehan, we likely would
 3   need to get some sense of where Florida is. I think your next
 4   commission meeting is in December. I think we’re going to have
 5   to come to grips with somewhere early next year of do we have
 6   good prospects for compatible regulations or not and we’re going
 7   to have to deal with that at some point.
 8
 9   I think it’s critical that we work closely with the states on
10   this one, so that we don’t wind up in a mess like we are this
11   year with red snapper, and that we try to keep the states
12   onboard and that we try to keep the timing of when these things
13   go in place consistently, because it sure could throw us all out
14   of whack if we get in a situation where we’re not going to have
15   compatible regulations. I hope we can work towards that goal.
16
17   MR. TEEHAN: Roy, we have couched the red snapper issue in those
18   terms to the commission, as far as compatibility helps the
19   entire management plan, and we’ll certainly bring it up as far
20   as this is concerned.
21
22   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Does anyone have anything else under this
23   section? I don’t think we’re going to get to the preferred at
24   all.   With that, let’s move on.   We’re desperately running out
25   of time here and it’s all Steve’s fault.
26
27   MR. ATRAN:   By the way, the reason why we scheduled Amendment
28   30B before 30A was because we figured this one would go faster.
29   We’re up to Action 10, which is Alternatives to Reduce Discard
30   Mortality of Groupers.
31
32   It begins at the bottom of page 60.     The alternatives are on
33   page 61 and 62.     This was a section -- At the last council
34   meeting, I forwarded the IPT’s recommendation that this entire
35   section be moved to Considered but Rejected, because the primary
36   alternative on here, Alternative 1, was equivalent to an
37   alternative that’s in Reef Fish Amendment 27, the red snapper
38   rebuilding plan, to require stainless steel circle hooks,
39   venting tools, and dehooking devices.
40
41   Amendment 27 applied that to all reef fish. We put it in this
42   amendment to apply it only to grouper, in the event that the
43   Amendment 27 action did not get approved.
44
45   We got word from the regional office last week that we have
46   received partial approval of that amendment and that particular
47   action has been approved. Alternative 2, which would apply that
48   only to groupers in this document, is now a moot point.      We


                                   145
 1   don’t have to do that.   It’s going to apply anyway.
 2
 3   Alternatives 3 and 4 are primarily instructional alternatives.
 4   We could leave these in, but these are something we could work
 5   with Sea Grant, I think, without having to have an amendment to
 6   work on.
 7
 8   That leaves alternatives that were added in this section to
 9   reduce the red grouper minimum size limit in order to try to
10   achieve maximum yield per recruit and to try to achieve some
11   increase in the recreational harvest of red grouper, consistent
12   with the increase in TAC.
13
14   We’ve heard from Dr. Crabtree today that there may be some
15   problems with trying to actually increase red grouper harvest,
16   since we seem to be right at the fishing mortality rate that we
17   want to be at.     With all that in mind, I would again bring
18   forward the IPT’s previous recommendation that this section be
19   moved to Considered but Rejected.
20
21   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Committee discussion?
22
23   DR. CRABTREE:   I’m open to discussing that, but I do have one
24   thing I would like us to look at, whether it goes in this
25   section or some other section of the document.
26
27   Based on the yield per recruit analysis that the Center’s folks
28   have done on this and looking at the release mortality rates
29   that are existing in the longline component of the fishery at
30   this time, I would like to have an alternative in the document
31   somewhere that would analyze and look at elimination of the
32   grouper size limits in the longline grouper fishery.
33
34   I think what we’re doing is requiring that fishery to discard
35   dead fish and they are basically required by our regulations to
36   fish outside the twenty-fathom depth contour and many of them
37   fish a fair amount deeper than that. It’s our regulations that
38   are causing, to some extent, the high release mortality rates
39   that they have, and there’s just no way they’re going to get
40   around that.
41
42   Then most of the discards that they have are red grouper and are
43   mostly being discarded because they’re below the minimum size
44   limit.   They have very few gag that they discard, because they
45   don’t tend to catch that many gag, but the estimate of the
46   mortality rate of the gag they do discard is 65 percent.
47
48   I just think we’re better off to put in place a policy in that


                                     146
 1   fishery of total grouper retention. If you catch a grouper, you
 2   land it. I think that will have some benefits to it, because I
 3   think it will result in bringing in some extra red grouper that
 4   are being thrown over the side dead now without having any real
 5   impacts on gag.
 6
 7   I think that’s something we ought to give careful consideration
 8   to now and I really think it’s something that the analysis Clay
 9   has done would support. I don’t care if you want to move this
10   section of the document to Considered but Rejected and put in an
11   alternative under the commercial management measures to do that.
12
13   I would rely on staff to tell us organizationally how they would
14   do that, but I would like to move that we have an alternative
15   somewhere in the document that would eliminate grouper size
16   limits in the longline fishery.
17
18   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    What I’m hearing is you have a two-part
19   motion.   The first part would be to move this section, as it
20   currently stands, to the Considered but Rejected and in its
21   place, add in alternatives that would consider reducing the
22   discard mortality and an elimination of the size limit in the
23   commercial longline fishery.
24
25   MS. MORRIS: I think what I would recommend that we do is that
26   we move Alternative 3 and Alternative 4 and Alternative 5 to
27   Considered but Rejected and add a new alternative, it would now
28   be Alternative 3, that would eliminate size limits in the
29   longline shallow-water grouper fishery.
30
31   DR. CRABTREE:   Alternative 2 is already status quo now and so
32   that one is already gone and is that correct, Steve? That’s now
33   status quo, requiring those things.
34
35   MR. ATRAN: It is, but probably we should vote to remove that as
36   well. What I was going to suggest, perhaps, is that we replace
37   this entire section with a red grouper size limit section and
38   then the range of alternatives might be status quo, leave the
39   size limits in place, have some smaller size limits, or
40   eliminate the size limits completely and then sub-options to do
41   it only for the longline fishery or for the entire commercial
42   fishery.
43
44   DR. CRABTREE: It’s not a red grouper section. We’re looking at
45   size limits across the board in that alternative and so it’s
46   broader than that.
47
48   MR. ATRAN:   I’m sorry, I meant to say for all grouper.   The idea


                                    147
 1   would be that we replace the -- Instead of calling this
 2   “Alternatives to Reduce Discard Mortality of Grouper”, although
 3   that’s still going to be primarily the case, it’s “Alternatives
 4   to Address Commercial Grouper Size Limits”.
 5
 6   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Before we get further down the road, I need to
 7   know if Julie got a second or if she’s going to hold this motion
 8   and then we’ll come back and discuss it.        Right now, as I
 9   recall, we do not have a second to your motion.
10
11   MR. GILL: A question, Mr. Chairman. Julie, is that the motion
12   that you want at this point in time? Do we have the motion on
13   the board that we really want to be considering?
14
15   MS. MORRIS: I think so, but I want to check with Roy Crabtree.
16   Is it remove the size limit or is it remove or reduce the size
17   limit? What were you thinking of there?
18
19   DR. CRABTREE: Let’s say, for the purposes of the alternatives,
20   to remove or reduce, so we get some alternatives of each. Then
21   I’ll second your motion, Julie.    Can we add Alternative 2 up
22   there, just so it’s very clear to staff?    Then I would second
23   this motion.
24
25   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    There’s a motion and a second and she did
26   agree to removing Alternative 2.
27
28   MS. WALKER: I have to speak against this motion, because one of
29   the areas that I’ve heard so much talk about is how private
30   recreational  anglers  are   not  aware   of   correct  venting
31   techniques.
32
33   If the maker and the seconder would remove Alternative 3 from
34   here, I think that’s something that we as a council and the
35   agency -- I think that we can work with the states and get them,
36   when people go in to get licenses, to give them a sheet on how
37   to properly vent. I just don’t want to see us lose that option.
38
39   MS. MORRIS: I have no objection to changing the motion to drop
40   Alternative 3 from being addressed by the motion.
41
42   DR. CRABTREE:   I agree.   I think Ms. Walker makes an excellent
43   point.
44
45   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Thank you.   Is there any other discussion?
46
47   MS. MORRIS:    I’m going to support this, but I am always
48   concerned when we put something in that creates incentives for


                                      148
 1   people to switch from the vertical line commercial fishery to
 2   the longline fishery. This seems like it has that aspect of it
 3   and so I would like that to be addressed in the discussion.
 4
 5   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Some kind of analysis that how many would
 6   possibly change over, looking at boat size, equipment cost,
 7   those kind of things, because I think we’ve had some people
 8   switch the other way already, haven’t we, from the longline to
 9   the bandit? No? All right. Is there any further discussion?
10
11   MR. GILL: I know the intent here is that we’re trying to reduce
12   the discard mortality in the longline fishery, in grouper, and I
13   agree with that.   However, I think we ought to also recognize
14   that it will not eliminate it.
15
16   There’s the size at which it’s not worth bringing in and to the
17   extent that they catch any of these little rascals, and I don’t
18   see much of that happening, but there’s a natural size that
19   they’ll just discard and the market will dictate that.
20
21   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   We have a motion on the board and we’ve had
22   discussion.   Is there any objection to the motion?    Hearing
23   none, the motion carries.
24
25   MR. ATRAN: The next section is Action 11, which the discussion
26   begins on page 64.     This is the creation of marine reserves.
27   The alternatives themselves begin on page 66 and the next
28   section, Action 12, is Duration of Marine Reserves. Since these
29   two actions are closely related to each other, we might want to
30   discuss them together.
31
32   Under Action 11, we are looking at the possibility of creating
33   new reserves to increase the protections of the male portion of
34   the gag population, as well as to provide additional protections
35   for spawning aggregations of gag and other fish.
36
37   You’ve gotten quite a bit of presentations yesterday on what
38   effect the current Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps Reserves
39   have had on gag and red grouper and the analysis from the
40   ecosystem modeling workshop on what they feel is the impact, or
41   lack of impact, of those reserves on protecting gag as a stock.
42
43   The actions that we have are Alternative 1, don’t create any
44   additional reserves. Alternative 2 is an either/or, establish a
45   new reserve. Option A would create an area called Snyder Ridge,
46   which is a rectangular area of about 127 nautical square miles
47   northwest of Steamboat Lumps.
48


                                   149
 1   Then Option B would create a parallelogram shaped area that runs
 2   across the forty-fathom contour, from the northern edge of
 3   Steamboat Lumps northward, and would cover about 390 nautical
 4   square miles.
 5
 6   There is a map in the amendment and it’s on page 72, at least in
 7   the paper version, that shows where these alternatives would be
 8   relative to Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps.    Snyder Ridge
 9   is almost entirely contained within the larger parallelogram
10   reserve and that’s why we said this is either/or.
11
12   It depends upon if you want to create a new reserve, you could
13   create a large one or a small one within the same basic area,
14   covering the forty-fathom break, which is where most of the gag
15   spawning occurs.
16
17   There are sub-options for what sorts of fishing regulations to
18   apply within the reserves. Sub-Option (i) would apply the same
19   regulations that we currently have for Madison-Swanson and
20   Steamboat Lumps, which is to prohibit all fishing November
21   through April and allow surface trolling from May through
22   October.
23
24   Option (ii) is a little bit of a simpler set. It would prohibit
25   all fishing November through April, again, but it would allow
26   all fishing May through October.
27
28   Alternative 3 is an expansion of the existing Madison-Swanson
29   Reserve. It would add another segment to that reserve north and
30   west of it and so it would turn it into somewhat of an L-shaped
31   reserve and basically expand it northwest, again, covering the
32   forty-fathom break.  The map on page 72 shows what that would
33   look like.
34
35   That would add an additional seventy nautical square miles to
36   the existing reserve, which is, I believe, around 120 or so
37   nautical square miles. This was suggested by the Science Center
38   as being the area that has the highest density of gag spawning
39   aggregations.
40
41   Then Alternative 4 came out of a suggestion that came out of the
42   first ecosystem modeling workshop that suggested that the most
43   effective marine reserves for protecting gag should not only
44   protect the spawners while they’re on the aggregation sites, but
45   should also protect the females on their way to and from the
46   aggregation sites and the only way to do that would be to create
47   cross-shelf reserves that would run -- They suggested all the
48   way into shore.


                                   150
 1
 2   Since we don’t have the authority to go all the way into shore,
 3   I had the alternatives set up to go all the way into the
 4   state/federal water boundaries and to do this, Madison-Swanson
 5   would be extended northward, to the northward boundary, along
 6   the state/federal boundary, and Steamboat Lumps would go
 7   eastward to the boundary.
 8
 9   Again, those are illustrated in the map on page 2 and those
10   would add -- Extending the Madison-Swanson as a cross-shelf
11   reserve would add approximately 523 nautical square miles to the
12   existing reserve.      Extending the Steamboat Lumps Reserve,
13   because it’s further offshore, would add approximately 1,037
14   nautical square miles.
15
16   In this particular alternative, since it’s an extension of an
17   existing reserve, rather than a creation of a new one, I did not
18   address the fishing regulations.    It’s just an assumption that
19   the existing regulations would apply in the expanded reserve.
20
21   As I said, I think it might be worthwhile to look at both of
22   these sections together.   Action 12 is the Duration of Marine
23   Reserves, how long they would be until they sunset. Alternative
24   1 has no action, which means there would be no sunset and any
25   new reserves would remain in effect, unless they’re terminated
26   by a subsequent amendment.
27
28   We did have a sub-option to add Madison-Swanson and Steamboat
29   Lumps that to stay in effect unless terminated.      Otherwise,
30   Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps Reserves will terminate in
31   June 2010, which means that by early 2009, at the latest, we
32   would need to begin another amendment to consider reauthorizing
33   those reserves.
34
35   Alternative 2 would say that any new reserves that are created
36   in this amendment would expire in June of 2010, to coincide with
37   Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps. Again, that means we would
38   need to put a reauthorization into effect with a new amendment,
39   beginning work on that amendment in early 2009.
40
41   Alternative 3 would create the new reserves for ten years, which
42   would bring us to about the year 2018, and then it contains a
43   sub-option that would extend Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps
44   to also remain in effect until the same deadline, 2018. Again,
45   that’s all I have.
46
47   The AP recommendation was that these sections be moved to
48   Considered but Rejected. They felt that marine reserves, MPAs,


                                   151
 1   are simply not acceptable as a management tool and the SSC ran
 2   out of time and did not get to that section.
 3
 4   MS. WALKER:     Mr. Chairman, in light of the data and the
 5   testimony that we received yesterday, I move to add Actions 11
 6   and 12 to the Considered but Rejected section.
 7
 8   CHAIRMAN MINTON: There’s a motion on the floor.   Is there a
 9   second? Is there further discussion? The motion fails without
10   a second.
11
12   MS. MORRIS:   Since we haven’t really had any public comment on
13   this section yet, my suggestion for today and this council
14   meeting would be to not go through and choose preferred
15   alternatives for this action at this time, in order to keep
16   things out there for public comment.
17
18   I do have some suggestions about sort of reorganizing the way
19   things are laid out, but I wonder if the committee would be
20   comfortable with not choosing any preferred actions at this
21   time.
22
23   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    I certainly agree with it, considering the
24   time that we’ve got here. We’re not going to be able to do it.
25   It’s going to take an awful lot of time to go through this and
26   we need a lot more analysis.    I concur with your suggestion.
27   Other committee members? We would just move on then.
28
29   MS. MORRIS:   I have a couple of points about reorganizing, if
30   you think you want to take those up, but if you don’t, we can
31   defer on that as well.
32
33   CHAIRMAN MINTON: If you can help us reorganize where it will be
34   helpful in the next round, I would certainly entertain it.   Go
35   ahead.
36
37   MS. MORRIS:     If you look at Alternative 4, this is the
38   suggestion that Steve composed out of one of the ideas of the
39   Ecosystem SSC, these very long, extensive cross-shelf reserves.
40   Those are really designed for a different objective than the
41   objective that’s articulated for this section.
42
43   This section has articulated an objective to protect the male
44   spawning sites and the long, cross-shelf reserves are really an
45   approach to protecting other stages of the life cycle and so I’m
46   not sure Alternative 4 belongs in this section. We could either
47   move it into a different section or move it by itself into
48   Considered but Rejected.


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 1
 2   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Do you want to take that up now or after some
 3   additional staff analysis?
 4
 5   MS. MORRIS:   Do you anticipate doing additional staff analysis
 6   on this one, Steve?
 7
 8   MR. ATRAN:   Not at this time.  What I would do is incorporate
 9   the information that we’ve received from the ecosystem workshop
10   and any information we received from the other presentations
11   yesterday into this.
12
13   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   What’s your pleasure?
14
15   MS. MORRIS: My sense from your body language, Mr. Chairman, is
16   that you would rather just not deal with any of this right now
17   and so it’s fine with me if we just leave things as they are in
18   the document and take them to public hearing and then deal with
19   them, after we’ve had public hearings, at our next council
20   meeting.
21
22   CHAIRMAN MINTON:  You have a keen perception for the obvious,
23   Ms. Morris. I think that’s good. Steven, anything else?
24
25   MR. ATRAN:     That concludes the action items that are in
26   Alternative 30B.    The next agenda item will be selection of
27   public hearing locations, but I guess there’s a generic question
28   of is there anything else that you would like to see put in or
29   taken out or changed in this amendment?
30
31   MR. GILL:     Mr. Chairman, relative to Action 10 and the
32   alternative that we’ve just put in at Roy’s suggestion relative
33   to reduction or elimination of size limits on the longline
34   fishery, one of the impacts here is that says the vertical line
35   fishery is going to have a vastly different fishing regimen and
36   it seems appropriate if we’re going to do the one --
37
38   I’m not sure we want to go down this road, but we probably ought
39   to look at some other analysis that includes the vertical line
40   fishery and I would make a motion that we add an alternative
41   that eliminates or reduces the size limit for grouper for all
42   grouper fisheries, all commercial grouper fisheries.
43
44   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Is there a second?
45
46   MS. MORRIS:   Second.
47
48   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    It’s seconded by Ms. Morris and I think it


                                     153
 1   does address some concerns about shift between fisheries, if we
 2   can accommodate that.  I think it’s appropriate.   Is there any
 3   discussion? This would be across fisheries then. That would be
 4   good.   Any other discussion?   Is there any objection to the
 5   motion?
 6
 7   MS. WALKER:   I object.
 8
 9   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    There is objection to the motion.  All in
10   favor of the motion signify by saying aye; opposed same sign.
11   The motion carries.
12
13   MR. ATRAN: That wraps up the amendment. Did you want to move
14   on now to selection of public hearing? At this time, it looks
15   like we will not be able to go to public hearings before the
16   January meeting and so it’s not necessary.
17
18   CHAIRMAN MINTON:        I   would   rather    wait.      Just   to   get   the
19   locations. Karen?
20
21   MS. FOOTE: In Louisiana, I’ve had several requests from people
22   to not have it in downtown New Orleans in the evenings.   It’s
23   rush hour traffic problems and they’re having to pay a large
24   amount for parking.     I suggest New Orleans, but maybe the
25   airport area is much more appropriate.
26
27   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Louisiana       opts     for   New   Orleans,    but   the
28   airport area. Texas?
29
30   MR. RIECHERS:    Galveston and Port Aransas.
31
32   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Florida?
33
34   MR. TEEHAN: I think we’re happy with Naples, Madeira Beach, and
35   Panama City. It looks like Orange Beach might cover Pensacola.
36
37   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Mississippi?
38
39   MR. PERRET:   Biloxi.
40
41   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Alabama, Bobbi, have you got any               preferences?
42   We’ve got Orange Beach.  Orange Beach works.   Any              others?   By
43   consensus then, can we forward this recommendation               to council?
44   With no objections, so ordered.   Steven, is that               housekeeping
45   for this?
46
47   MR. ATRAN:    That completes everything we have on Amendment 30B.
48


                                         154
 1   CHAIRMAN MINTON:  It’s 11:20 and we do have an option -- We’re
 2   supposed to quit at 12:00. We do have -- I’ve been informed by
 3   Mr. Swingle, of course, earlier that we’re not going to have
 4   Budget and so he’s saying that we can split the time that was
 5   allocated for Budget between this and the Red Drum aquaculture
 6   and so forth.
 7
 8   We could go until 12:30 and then come back at 1:30, but that
 9   would take us directly into the aquaculture and what would you
10   all rather do, go to 12:00 and quit and come back at 1:00 and
11   have thirty minutes to finish it up or do what we can and then
12   turn it over to aquaculture or go another hour?
13
14   MR. RIECHERS: We really need to move through that document. I
15   think even -- We’ll use as much time as necessary of the one
16   hour to give you that time, though I would like to split the
17   time if we could, much like Mr. Swingle asked you to try to do.
18
19   I know I might suggest, given the body language of your
20   committee, Mr. Chair, that you might go to lunch early and try
21   to be back a little early and get started.
22
23   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Body language of the committee? I think we’ve
24   coined a whole new set of terms here now. Thank you for that,
25   Julie.
26
27   EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SWINGLE:    One thing about the aquaculture
28   document is it will not be -- Final action cannot be taken at
29   this meeting.   It will be taken at the January meeting and so
30   you may want to use more of their time as well.
31
32   MR. RIECHERS:   You were scheduled to start back at 1:30 and so
33   you could break approximately now and come back at 1:00 and be
34   back on schedule, I believe, and then have some of that
35   additional time to work with.
36
37   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   What’s the -- We need a break.    We’ll meet
38   back here at 1:00.    We’ll recess and Reef Fish will be on at
39   1:00. Thank you, all.
40
41   (Whereupon, the meeting recessed at 11:30 o’clock a.m., October
42   30, 2007.)
43
44                                - - -
45
46                          October 30, 2007
47
48                      TUESDAY AFTERNOON SESSION


                                   155
 1
 2                                - - -
 3
 4   The Reef Fish Committee of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management
 5   Council reconvened in the Camellia Ballroom of the Beau Rivage,
 6   Biloxi, Mississippi, Tuesday afternoon, October 30, 2007, and
 7   was called to order at 1:00 o’clock p.m. by Chairman Vernon
 8   Minton.
 9
10   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Let’s call the Reef Fish Committee back to
11   order, please.   We do have a quorum.   That brings us to Item
12   Number VIII, Red Snapper Allocation Discussion. We’re going to
13   have a brief, brief presentation on this by Assane.  Go ahead,
14   Assane.
15
16              RED SNAPPER ALLOCATION DISCUSSION DOCUMENT
17
18   DR. DIAGNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and emphasis on the brief.
19   It will be extremely short, hopefully.   We were asked, I think
20   two council meetings ago, to prepare some discussion elements to
21   start a red snapper allocation and this is what we came up with
22   so far.
23
24   What I want to do is very quickly give you an introduction,
25   touch up on the purpose and need, and look at where we are today
26   in terms of quotas and harvest levels and give you a brief
27   description of what we found in the literature as allocation
28   methods and finish with some additional discussion items.
29
30   In terms of introduction, we have insufficient recovery of the
31   red snapper that has resulted in serious TAC reductions, from
32   9.1 to 6.5 to five million pounds by the time 27/14 is
33   implemented.     Of course, this has translated into more
34   restrictions, I mean bag limits, size limits, shorter seasons,
35   smaller IFQ shares and so forth.
36
37   Just to reemphasize it, Amendment 1 specified an allocation of
38   51/49 percent commercial and recreational, respective.    In the
39   purpose and need, obviously this will have to be developed
40   further as your discussion progresses.     It will be developed
41   further as your discussion progresses, but suffice it to say for
42   now that the allocation is more than fifteen years old and it is
43   based on data that old.
44
45   Fishing patterns and the relative economic values may or may not
46   have changed and so this is an opportunity to look for that. In
47   terms of quota and harvest levels, what we did here is put
48   together a couple of slides that show us the quota levels by


                                   156
 1   sector and compare that to their respective harvest levels.
 2
 3   In the recreational sector, the green line, the lime color over
 4   there, is the quota, at least in its evolution over time, and
 5   the red line shows the fluctuations in our landings.    In some
 6   years it was above and some years it was below, but that’s the
 7   fluctuation and that’s the data we have.
 8
 9   In terms of percentage, the red bars show overages, in percent.
10   In some years, the sector has been above by let’s say 100
11   percent. In some years, it has been under by let’s say 20 or 23
12   percent.   That shows basically what happened from 1991 to 2005
13   and the same thing in the commercial sector.
14
15   The red line here shows the quota and the lime or green color
16   over there shows the landings.    If we look at the percentage
17   overage or underage, that’s the picture in the commercial
18   sector. On some years, they were above, let’s say, by as much
19   as close to 50 percent and on some of the years they were below
20   by let’s say 13 or 13.1 percent.
21
22   The last slide here shows the effective landings, but those are
23   translated in percentage and I compared that to the Amendment 1
24   allocation.   That band in the middle, the whitish color, the
25   upper boundary is supposed to be the commercial allocation and
26   the lower boundary is the recreational allocation, as specified
27   by Amendment 1, 51/49.
28
29   The green line over there shows the recreational effective
30   allocation, based on their landings, and the red one shows the
31   percentage landed by the commercial sector.     We have very few
32   years in which the real allocation is the same, corresponds to
33   the effective allocation on the ground, if there is any.
34
35   Now on to the allocation methods.  In the literature, we found
36   four ways, basically, of doing this: catch-based, negotiation-
37   based, market-based, and finally, valuation-based.  The catch-
38   based method is self-explanatory.
39
40   That’s what we’ve been doing ever since. Basically, we base it
41   on historical landings for a certain number of years and each
42   sector gets a share, based on what it is that they landed.
43   Amendment 1 allocations, all of our allocations, are catch-based
44   allocations up to now.
45
46   Some issues that need to be considered are data availability and
47   reliability. I guess we can say that for everything we do. How
48   do we come up with a base years, time period, to use and how do


                                    157
 1   we justify that?   How often should we reallocate or review the
 2   allocation and should we consider other issues, such as
 3   compensation and so forth? How do we know that the reallocation
 4   that we propose is better than the previous one?
 5
 6   Now on to the negotiation-based. Here, we go very quickly. If
 7   we could identify representatives for the respective sectors, we
 8   can put them together, facilitated by the council or some other
 9   organization, and they can work it out and come out and say this
10   is the allocation that we want for X, Y, and Z species.
11
12   Some of the issues that need to be considered here are, again,
13   the timeframe and what do we do if the parties do not come to an
14   agreement and how often do we review this and so forth.
15
16   Market-based allocation, under ideal conditions, one could use
17   market forces to allocate a resource, but there is a
18   prerequisite, a huge one, that would be a clear definition of
19   the property rights for the two sectors.        If I’m buying
20   something, I have to know that I’m entitled to enjoying the
21   benefits coming from that something and that’s the major thing
22   here.
23
24   Who would be market participants? Would it be across sectors or
25   by individuals? We don’t know that. What would be your role as
26   a council and as the management agency?      That remains to be
27   seen. What should we do to minimize transaction costs, because
28   they eat away at the benefits that you can realize here. Data
29   availability and finally, social consideration. Markets may be
30   efficient, but sometimes the outcome is not socially desirable
31   and what would we do in terms of a body if that were the case?
32
33   I guess I saved the best one for last, which is the valuation-
34   based approach. This is what the SEP is trying to do. The red
35   snapper resource can be allocated based on socioeconomic
36   valuation and if you use this method, the optimal allocation be
37   determined and there is one single point corresponding to that.
38   It’s the point at which the net marginal benefits across sectors
39   are equal.
40
41   I’ll say that once again and I try to emphasize it on the slide.
42   The net benefits are equal to the benefits minus expenditure.
43   If I could put a bigger minus sign, I would.     The greater the
44   expenditures by one sector, the lower the net benefits they
45   contribute to society and so it is not a benefit for any sector
46   to say that I’m spending ten billion dollars.    That lowers the
47   net benefit they contribute to society.
48


                                   158
 1   Net benefits are measured in terms of consumer and producer
 2   surplus and these are computed based on demand and supply, but
 3   that I can talk about some more if some members are interested.
 4   To finish up, I would like to put some quotes on the board.
 5
 6   The first two quotes are from Dr. Steven Edwards. He works for
 7   NMFS. He wrote a technical memo in 1990 and I can share copies
 8   of that.     The first thing he said, and this is in the
 9   introduction is: “commercial fishermen sometimes characterize
10   sport fishing as the adult equivalent of play-something devoid
11   of economic value. This market value-argument is incorrect,
12   however, because it presumes that only markets beget value.”
13   That’s the first misconception.
14
15   The second one is that: “game fish status is often advocated for
16   a fishery resource, such as billfish, when revenues for anglers’
17   expenditures on fishing supplies are greater than dockside
18   revenue in the commercial fishery for the same species. Among
19   mistakes inherent in this revenues-argument, however, is that it
20   contradicts any rational desire of an angler or business to
21   minimize the costs of fishing.”       This is actually in his
22   introduction on page 1 of the technical report.
23
24   Along the same lines, Dr. McLeod and Nicholls, in a recent
25   report, said that the financial measures that we commonly use in
26   allocation policies, such as the gross value of the commercial
27   catch and the gross value of recreational expenditure, including
28   flow-on impact, and these are the result of multiplier analysis,
29   input/output and so forth, of these activities on the broader
30   economy, these are not the relevant measures to use in resource
31   allocation. The important measures are net marginal benefits.
32
33   One last quote, by Dr. Edwards once again, is to compare the
34   expenditures of commercial fishermen and anglers is improper.
35   In fact, net national benefits are enhanced when businesses
36   minimize the use of productive inputs, because the remaining
37   inputs can be used to do something else.   That is really the
38   fundamental thing here.
39
40   If we were to do this valuation-based allocation, which the SEP
41   is doing, there are some other issues that need to be addressed,
42   like what type of allocation exists within each sector.
43   Availability of data, of course, the precision of the estimates,
44   how often should we look at this, and what compensation issues
45   should we want to address and finally, before my time gets up,
46   discussion methods, additional ones.
47
48   The SEC, as I mentioned earlier, recommends that we develop


                                   159
 1   guidelines, principles, and a framework, if you would, that we
 2   will use to allocate our resources. Compensation issues can be
 3   addressed if the council chooses to go that direction and last,
 4   how do we define fishing sector if we know that the net marginal
 5   benefits is not the same across sectors? That’s also something
 6   that may need to be looked at.
 7
 8   For example, in the recreational sector, for-hire and private,
 9   they do not necessarily bring the same net marginal value.    I
10   think that’s about my time and I will stop here. Thank you, Mr.
11   Chairman, and I hope it was short enough.
12
13   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Excellent.   Are there questions or comments?
14
15   MS. WALKER:   Assane, are the net benefits measures of economic
16   impacts?
17
18   DR. DIAGNE:   Yes, an economic impact does not necessarily mean
19   regional economic impact. It’s just an unfortunate coincidence,
20   I think, that the same term, “impact”, shows up in the
21   input/output literature, as well as in just regular speaking, in
22   public discourse.
23
24   Regional impacts, which are let’s say the flow-on impacts, if
25   that’s what you are referring to, those will have to account for
26   the output multiplier, basically how many times say a dollar is
27   spent within a system and be recycled and every time, it’s
28   somebody else’s job.   My expenditure is somebody else’s income
29   and so forth and so forth, but those measures do not capture
30   contribution to society at large.
31
32   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Other questions or comments?   Where do you
33   take this from here? What is your next step with this?
34
35   DR. DIAGNE:   It depends on your instructions, because we were
36   asked by a motion that the council passed to bring some elements
37   of discussion and so that’s all we did and so depending on what
38   you recommend, we will just proceed with that.
39
40   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Are there any recommendations?
41
42   MS. MORRIS:   We had a discussion this morning about taking a
43   more principled approach across our fisheries to the framing
44   allocation discussions and so we sort of agreed to recommend to
45   the council that we move forward with that initiative and it
46   seems like this red snapper allocation issue should be folded
47   into that, especially the way that Assane has presented these
48   kind of four different options as the basis for allocation.


                                      160
 1
 2   These could be a really useful start to our discussion about
 3   different ways that we want to manage allocation across our
 4   fisheries and so I think the next step would be to take these
 5   ideas and use them as a launching point or a basis for this
 6   effort that we were talking about earlier this morning.
 7
 8   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Other comments?
 9
10   DR. CRABTREE: I think that’s a good comment, Julie, and I think
11   Assane did a good job of putting this together. I just want to
12   point out, since we’re talking about red snapper, this is an
13   example of how we have not and are not applying Amendment 1
14   consistently and the need to come at this.
15
16   If we were to follow the way we’ve constructed Amendment 30A and
17   greater amberjack, then the status quo in this would be based on
18   red snapper landings from 1981 to 1987 and the status quo
19   allocation for red snapper would be 56 percent commercial and 44
20   percent recreational.
21
22   That is where a uniform application of the way we’re approaching
23   30A would leave us.     Now, if you came into the longer time
24   series, which is 1981 to 2004, then the allocation would be 51
25   percent commercial and 49 percent recreational, which is what we
26   are managing to.
27
28   We have, in these amendments we’ve been doing, not going back to
29   Amendment 1 and 14/27 did not go back to Amendment 1 and I think
30   it highlights that there are real issues about what is status
31   quo and about the issues with Amendment 1 and I think it just
32   really shows the need for us to come in and take a more
33   consistent approach to these allocations, so that we aren’t
34   vulnerable to the charge of picking and choosing when we’re
35   going to try to apply these things.
36
37   MS. WALKER:   A point of order, Mr. Chairman.    Didn’t we take
38   this motion to deal with allocation and didn’t Julie request
39   that it go under Other Business at the end of --
40
41   MS. MORRIS:   My   suggestion this morning was that a motion that
42   Bobbi made to      start a committee be taken up under Other
43   Business, after    we had talked about 30A and had talked about
44   this red snapper   allocation. That’s still my recommendation.
45
46   Now we’re in the middle of the red snapper allocation discussion
47   and we haven’t talked about 30A yet and then after that, I
48   thought it would be the appropriate time to figure out how to


                                     161
 1   set up this committee.
 2
 3   MS. WALKER: Wayne, can you help me remember why the council did
 4   the 51/49 on red snapper?     It seemed like there were some
 5   Mexican landings or there was some reason and it’s been so long
 6   ago since I read it that I don’t recall it, but I’m hoping you
 7   will.
 8
 9   EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SWINGLE:    It was a function of the    wording
10   they used in the framework procedure for specifying       TAC and
11   basically, it indicated that one of the ways to            do the
12   allocation was to allocate it over the longest period     that we
13   had landing records for each sector.
14
15   Originally when we did that, it was 1979 was used and
16   subsequently, NMFS has come back and concluded that 1979 and
17   1980 data were flawed and so the database is now 1981 through
18   the present.
19
20   It did, as Steve pointed out, the framework procedure, although
21   suggesting that be the principle way we do allocation for reef
22   fish, did say that other methods could be used and it’s just a
23   matter of your rationale for using that other method.
24
25   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Anything else? Then we will come back to that
26   later on then, Bobbi, if you want to.     Under Item IX, it says
27   Final Action, but I don’t think that’s appropriate at this time.
28   Stu is going to give us a brief summary of where we’re at in the
29   document, public hearings, and the AP and SSC.
30
31   Then I think what I would like to do at that point is kind of
32   get some discussion on what we would like to try to cover in the
33   document.   Assuming we’re not going to be able to cut a final
34   document, kind of see where we need to work on with the
35   remaining time that we have.
36
37     REEF FISH AMENDMENT 30A (GRAY TRIGGERFISH/GREATER AMBERJACK)
38
39   MR. KENNEDY:   I’ll go through the public hearing summaries for
40   30A first and I’ve -- There’s a larger document in your book,
41   Tab B, Number 5, but I’m going to narrow it down to a few
42   general comments and places where people agreed.
43
44   For greater amberjack, there was almost universal agreement in
45   the public hearings that allocation should be based on Amendment
46   1, which is the 84 percent recreational and 16 percent
47   commercial, that there be no change in the bag limit of one per
48   angler and in other words, fractional bag limits were out.


                                   162
 1   Nobody thought much of that idea.
 2
 3   You could increase the size limit to thirty inches and eliminate
 4   captain and crew bag limit, if necessary, to attain the
 5   reduction that you needed or that the recreational fishery
 6   needed and also, it was pretty universal that they wanted the
 7   commercial fishery under a quota and wanted to make sure that
 8   that quota was maintained.
 9
10   There were a few other suggestions that were not totally
11   universal.    One was that the recreational fishery was more
12   valuable than the commercial fishery and a number of people
13   cited that as a reason for the allocation recommendation.
14
15   Some accepted a closed season, although that was difficult to
16   do, but some did say that if it was absolutely necessary that
17   they would be willing to have some form of a closed season. One
18   member of the public suggested March through May in deepwater
19   and he did that based on some of his fishing trips, which found
20   an aggregation or found aggregations of adult spawning amberjack
21   in greater than 300 feet.
22
23   Some also stated that the accountability procedures would not
24   work, because they were based on MRFSS and with MRFSS not being
25   accurate enough on a seasonal basis, they felt that they really
26   wouldn’t work.
27
28   From the commercial perspective for greater amberjack, it was
29   pretty universal that they didn’t believe they were responsible
30   for the allocation shifts that are currently out there, that the
31   allocation should remain as close as possible to current
32   conditions, that along with any quota, they felt that there
33   needed to be a trip limit.
34
35   If the council was going to go towards quotas, that they have a
36   trip limit somewhere between 1,100 pounds and 2,000 pounds and
37   that size limits were really not very good and they felt they
38   should be reduced or eliminated.
39
40   For gray triggerfish, recreational anglers were universally in
41   agreement that allocation, again, should be based on Amendment
42   1, that the size limit could be increased to somewhere between
43   twelve and fourteen, and there were differences of opinion in
44   different areas, but that was the general range. That was fork
45   length, twelve to fourteen inches fork length, that the bag
46   limit could be decreased anywhere -- The range of comments were
47   anywhere between two and ten, two and ten fish within the twenty
48   reef fish aggregate bag limit, if necessary, again.


                                    163
 1
 2   A few fishermen suggested a seasonal closure only if absolutely
 3   necessary.     Commercial fishermen, again, were in general
 4   agreement that they were not responsible for the allocation
 5   shifts in that species as well and that allocation should remain
 6   as close as possible to current conditions and the size limit
 7   should be fourteen inches and that pretty much sums up the
 8   public hearings.
 9
10   At this point, what I had planned to do was to go into 30A and
11   go through the alternatives, go through the actions, and tell
12   you where you stand and where the AP and SSC stands, where they
13   had made comments, and then you can decide what you want to do.
14
15   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Considering what we’ve talked about earlier
16   and considering the time that we’ve got left, do we have a
17   suggestion, possibly, on how you want to tackle this document,
18   as opposed to how we would attack this document, rather than
19   possibly a step-by-step through it?
20
21   Maybe we need to emphasize areas where we do have concerns and
22   we would like to get some of this done.    Roy, you did mention
23   that we were going to -- We can’t finish and we’re going to have
24   to come back and so is there some recommendations along those
25   lines?
26
27   DR. CRABTREE:   I have a couple of issues that I would like to
28   bring up, if I could, Mr. Chairman.    One is on page 20 of my
29   document and this is in the section on modifications to the
30   greater amberjack rebuilding strategy.
31
32   We have a preferred alternative that would modify the rebuilding
33   plan in a way to allow the TACs to increase each year and if you
34   look on page 21, in the second paragraph, the next to the last
35   sentence, it says that Preferred Alternative 2 also rebuilds the
36   stock by the end of 2010, but allows approximately 34 percent
37   more landings, or seven-and-a-half million pounds, than the
38   Alternative 1, which is the status quo.
39
40   I’ve had some discussions with General Counsel about a court
41   decision on the darkblotched rockfish, which had to do with a
42   rebuilding plan and increasing the quotas above what they were
43   and the whole question of are you recovering as soon as
44   possible.
45
46   After discussing that with Mike and looking at this carefully, I
47   don’t believe that the Secretary could approve Preferred
48   Alternative 2, because we’re five years into a rebuilding plan


                                   164
 1   and we’re not on track to recover and the overfishing is still
 2   going on, yet we would try to modify the rebuilding strategy in
 3   a way that would allow a 34 percent increase in landings over
 4   the remainder of the rebuilding plan above the status quo.
 5
 6   I haven’t seen a rationale and I haven’t been able to think of
 7   one of how that would be rebuilding as soon as possible and so I
 8   think if your goal here is to try and find a way to have the
 9   TACs increase each year, that’s probably possible and I’ve asked
10   Andy to look at some ways, but I think it would have to be done
11   in a way that was a conservation equivalency with the status quo
12   and that wouldn’t result in any net increase in the overall
13   catches over the course of the rebuilding plan.
14
15   I wanted to call that to your attention, because I think either
16   we need to modify Alternative 2, so that it doesn’t allow any
17   additional harvest, or we potentially ought to consider removing
18   this whole section to the Considered but Rejected.
19
20   MS. WALKER: Roy, help me understand this.   We’re rebuilding the
21   fishery in 2012?
22
23   DR. CRABTREE:   I believe that’s when the ten-year rebuilding
24   plan ends.
25
26   MS. WALKER:      This alternative that we’ve chosen as our
27   preferred, which allows the TAC to increase on an annual basis,
28   isn’t going to -- Are you telling us now that we won’t reach our
29   goal of rebuilding or are you saying that because there’s
30   something new in the Magnuson Act that we can’t allow the
31   fishermen to increase their landings because of something new
32   that’s in there?
33
34   DR. CRABTREE:     No, this doesn’t have anything to do with
35   something that’s new in the Act.        The current status quo
36   rebuilding scenario actually had us recovering in seven years.
37   Ten years is the longest time the law allows for this, but the
38   law says we’re to recover as soon as possible and the status quo
39   rebuilding alternative will result in us recovering sooner and a
40   higher probability of succeeding than Preferred Alternative 2.
41
42   I don’t see how we would be able to approve a change to a
43   rebuilding strategy that has a lower likelihood of success and
44   will recover somewhat slower, or later, than the current one,
45   when we’re five years in and we’re behind.
46
47   Whether any of these will actually achieve recovery is going to
48   depend on what actions we take in this amendment and how


                                   165
 1   effective they are and whether we’re able to get compatible
 2   regulations very quickly with the states and whether we’re able
 3   to keep the catches from going over what we lay out in the
 4   rebuilding plan, but essentially the issue is the law says we
 5   have to recover as soon as possible.
 6
 7   We already have a rebuilding plan on the books that has us
 8   recovering sometime in early 2010.  We’re proposing to modify
 9   that to allow more take and recover slightly later and I just
10   don’t think that meets the test of recovering as soon as
11   possible.
12
13   MR. PERRET: It might as well come out sooner than later. Roy,
14   you keep talking about if we have compatibility with states, yet
15   I assume we’re going to have some discussion about quite a bit
16   of incompatibility in a fishery.
17
18   Tell us about what the service is considering if indeed you
19   don’t get compatibility with states, like you didn’t get with
20   red snapper in Florida. Just what are we going to do?
21
22   DR. CRABTREE: I believe that’s something we’re going to come to
23   under Other Business and so I don’t know if we want to --
24
25   CHAIRMAN MINTON: We’re already set up to discuss it under Other
26   Business and I would rather take it up there. Are there other
27   comments?
28
29   DR. CRABTREE:     I’ll make a motion then.       I move   that   we
30   establish Alternative 1 as the preferred alternative.
31
32   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    There’s a motion on the floor.   Is there a
33   second?
34
35   MS. MORRIS:   Second.
36
37   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Any further discussion?
38
39   MR. GILL:   I note that the SSC chose Alternative 1 as their
40   preferred, but it was a six to five vote. It would suggest that
41   they were not all that strong and they had other druthers,
42   although they apparently didn’t come out. I would like to hear
43   some discussion on where they got to and how they got that close
44   vote on this preferred alternative.
45
46   MR. KENNEDY:    Would you repeat the question, please?      I was
47   doing something else and I apologize.
48


                                     166
 1   MR. GILL:   The SSC?
 2
 3   MR. ATRAN: That would be me. I covered the SSC meeting. There
 4   was general discussion that generally the SSC preferred the
 5   annual increases over the three-year steps, because it does
 6   allow TAC to increase and allow the management measures not to
 7   have to be adjusted every year in order to maintain the
 8   recreational sector in its place.
 9
10   However, in the case of greater amberjack, there was concern
11   that because we’re already five years into a ten-year rebuilding
12   plan that we would need to be more conservative, because we’re
13   not going to get a third chance if we get it wrong this time.
14
15   As you saw, there wasn’t a real strong consensus, but some of
16   the SSC members felt that we needed to go to that more
17   conservative level, which Alternative 1 is, and some felt that
18   we should do Alternative 2, because it does allow TAC to
19   increase concurrent with the increase in the stock biomass
20   level.
21
22   MS. MORRIS:   Based on listening closely to Roy’s comment, it
23   seems like the main arguments for changing the preferred
24   alternative to Alternative 1 is that it rebuilds in a shorter
25   period of time and rebuilds by the end of the rebuilding period
26   to a lower TAC and is that part of the argument, Roy?
27
28   DR. CRABTREE:   No, it rebuilds somewhat earlier and it has a
29   higher probability of success, because it allows fewer fish to
30   be taken.   The more fish we allow to be taken, then the less
31   likely we’re going to make it before it’s over and that’s really
32   the crux of it.
33
34   You probably could come up with an alternative that allowed the
35   TACs to go up gradually and didn’t allow any more take over the
36   course of the remaining rebuilding years and that might work,
37   but that’s really the issue here, is that Alternative 2 would
38   allow I think it’s seven-and-a-half million pounds more take
39   over the remaining five years. I don’t think you can argue the
40   case that it has a lower probability of rebuilding the stock and
41   it will take longer to rebuild the stock.
42
43   MS. MORRIS:     Mr. Chairman, would you entertain a substitute
44   motion?
45
46   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Certainly.
47
48   MS. MORRIS:    Even though I seconded the motion that’s on the


                                     167
 1   board?
 2
 3   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   I don’t think there’s anything against that.
 4   It may be a little odd, but this whole committee has been odd
 5   today and so don’t worry about it.
 6
 7   MS. MORRIS:    The substitute motion would be to recast the
 8   Alternative 1 rebuilding plan so that it increased each year,
 9   but still met the same timeframe for rebuilding.
10
11   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Are you suggesting this be a preferred or just
12   an additional?
13
14   MS. MORRIS:   Additional.
15
16   CHAIRMAN MINTON: I think that can be added. I think I have to
17   rule that out of order, but I’ll come back to you, because I
18   think we’re looking at a preferred now and you’re wanting to add
19   another alternative and I think we can do both without having to
20   drop one or the other. With that, we have a motion. The motion
21   was that Alternative 1 be the preferred alternative.    Is there
22   any objection to that, committee? There’s one objection. With
23   one objection, the motion carries.
24
25   MS. MORRIS:   Do you want to add an alternative here that would
26   take -- Is there any support for what I was just suggesting?
27   Should I offer it as a motion or do you want me to?
28
29   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   I think there would be.   I think it helps us.
30
31   MS. MORRIS: Add an alternative to recast Alternative 1 with an
32   increase in TAC, but still maintain the rebuilding plan.     I
33   think what it needs to say is with annual increases in TAC and
34   reaching rebuilding by the same date as Alternative 1, by the
35   same year as Alternative 1.
36
37   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Is there a second?
38
39   DR. CRABTREE:   I’ll second it.
40
41   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Let me make a comment.    Even though we have
42   been to public, I think -- This is, Mike, why I was motioning to
43   you.    I think this is less restrictive than the current
44   Alternative 1.   We will have another shot at it when we take
45   final action for public hearing and so would you concur that
46   this would be appropriate to add this in at this time?
47
48   MR. MCLEMORE:   Yes.


                                       168
 1
 2   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Thank you.
 3
 4   DR. CRABTREE:   Just some wordsmithing, Julie.    I think we’re
 5   looking at recasting Alternative 1 with annual increases in TAC
 6   and I would suggest that “and no increase in the overall harvest
 7   relative to the status quo”, because I think what we’re looking
 8   for is an alternative here that over the remainder of the
 9   rebuilding plan doesn’t catch any more fish than the status quo
10   right now. As long as staff is clear on what we’re saying, it
11   may be okay. Vernon is shaking his head.
12
13   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   I don’t understand what you’re saying.
14
15   DR. CRABTREE:   We have a status quo rebuilding plan that has
16   yields and it allows a given amount of fish to be caught over
17   the remainder of the rebuilding plan, but it only allows for one
18   increase after three years.
19
20   We’re looking for one that allows the TAC to go up every year,
21   but that the cumulative catches over the rest of the rebuilding
22   plan are no greater than the status quo.      Whether we need to
23   indicate that in the motion or whether the record and staff is
24   clear on that now -- I think staff is clear on it.
25
26   CHAIRMAN MINTON: I’m clear, if that means anything. We have a
27   motion on the floor, a substitute motion in Action 2,
28   Modification to Greater Amberjack Rebuilding Plan.   Are there
29   any objections to adding this as an alternative? Hearing none,
30   so ordered.
31
32   MR. TEEHAN: It’s not an objection, Mr. Chairman, but is this a
33   substitute motion or a stand-alone motion?
34
35   CHAIRMAN MINTON: It’s adding an additional motion. It’s not a
36   substitute. Next, Roy, help me here and Julie and Bob and Bill,
37   I think the next contentious issue may be allocations. We need
38   to talk about how we want to handle that, possibly, and then the
39   other item that we haven’t considered is the commercial TAC.
40   Would somebody kind of kick this off?
41
42   DR. CRABTREE: We’ve talked about allocations it seems like most
43   of the day and clearly there are issues there.    One issue is
44   that the structure of the allocation alternatives is different
45   from what we just went through with 30B, in terms of 30B had a
46   no action and I think it was a -- I forget what they called it,
47   but a functional status quo.
48


                                     169
 1   We need to be consistent on that and then I think there’s a
 2   whole issue of rationale for whatever allocation we’re going to
 3   make.    There’s a lot of information in the record in the
 4   original Amendment 1 in terms of why the council, back in 1990,
 5   in the framework chose those time series, which the rationale in
 6   the amendment is it was the longest available time series.
 7
 8   There’s rationales in Amendment 12 and 15 that say that the
 9   reductions in Amendment 12 on the recreational sector and in
10   Amendment 15 on the commercial sector were expected to produce
11   essentially equal reductions and then there’s discussion in
12   Secretarial Amendment 2 that implemented the rebuilding plan
13   that talks about Amendment 1 and the changes in the fishery and
14   a lot of things.
15
16   I think all of that needs to be more clearly incorporated into
17   the document and then there’s a whole issue of fair and
18   equitable, which we’re going to have to address, if there’s
19   going to be a shift in the allocation from what is in the water
20   right now and was what was in place when the rebuilding plan was
21   put in place.
22
23   If we’re going to essentially change that reallocation to go
24   back to Amendment 1 at this point, I think the issue becomes why
25   now and then how is that a fair and equitable distribution of
26   the restrictions and the benefits of rebuilding.
27
28   Now, there’s been a lot of discussion about trying to come to a
29   more uniform approach to allocations and I guess we’re going to
30   come back to that in a minute, but I think we do have some real
31   issues in terms of where are we going on greater amberjack and
32   fair and equitable reductions that we somehow need to work
33   through as a council.
34
35   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Other comments?
36
37   MS. WILLIAMS:   Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to ask
38   this question.   I actually need someone to refresh my memory.
39   The council took actions one time on greater, lesser, banded
40   rudderfish and almaco.    Were one of those -- Was there any
41   identification problems as far as which one you were catching as
42   it compared to a greater? If there was, which one was it?
43
44   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   As I recall, it was greater and lesser and I
45   don’t think -- No?
46
47   DR. SHIPP:   No, it was almaco.
48


                                       170
 1   MS. WILLIAMS: Then if we have a stock assessment on greater, I
 2   assume it truly was greater that they were actually looking at
 3   in the stock assessment and that there was no problems there and
 4   when we go with an allocation, how does that affect the
 5   identification problem that we have with the other fish?
 6
 7   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   I don’t know.     Can anybody help?
 8
 9   MR. ATRAN:   For one thing, the minimum size limits we have on
10   greater amberjack, both the commercial and the recreational size
11   limits are above the maximum size limits, I believe, of any of
12   those other three species.
13
14   Anything that’s legally taken is a greater amberjack and for
15   purposes of the regulation, I think we just assume that anything
16   that’s caught within that slot limit that was set up is one of
17   those other three species.
18
19   MS. WILLIAMS:   That was just a question that I had and I also
20   had some concerns which I mentioned it earlier and this will
21   keep me from talking tomorrow, or during full council.    Once
22   again, that’s with when the logbook system actually came into
23   place in 1993 and then with the MRFSS data and the new
24   charterboat/headboat data.   I think we all need to look at
25   those, too.
26
27   MS. MORRIS:    I think that it’s very clear that the council
28   itself and the committee are almost evenly divided on the issue
29   of allocation in greater amberjack and it’s a principle
30   discussion on both sides.
31
32   I think both sides of this question came ready to give speeches
33   with strong justifications for why our position was the strong
34   position and it’s just really hard to move forward with a
35   management action when the council is so strongly divided on the
36   issue.
37
38   Something that I would like the committee and the council to
39   consider is taking this greater amberjack and gray triggerfish
40   allocation actions and moving them to a category that Bob Shipp
41   would refer to as Considered but Deferred and moving ahead with
42   management actions that I think we’re a lot more --
43
44   I think we’re a lot closer together on what the management
45   actions should be than we are on what the allocation should be
46   and so defer this disagreement that is dividing the council to
47   this initiative that we’ve been talking about all morning, and
48   now the beginning of the afternoon, to have a more principled


                                        171
 1   discussion    about    guidelines     for   allocations   across   all
 2   fisheries.
 3
 4   I’m not asking the committee to recommend that to full council
 5   right now.   If you are comfortable with that, I could make it
 6   into a motion, but we could move -- Then the details of the
 7   discussion of the amendments we might defer until full council.
 8
 9   I really think we are pretty much in agreement on keeping a one
10   fish bag limit for recreation, for having some kind of trip
11   limit combined with a quota for commercial and I don’t think
12   we’re that far apart on the actual management actions, but the
13   allocation question is tearing us apart.
14
15   Would the committee like to consider a motion that we move the -
16   - My motion would be that we move the actions in 30A that deal
17   with allocation of greater amberjack and gray triggerfish -- The
18   motion would be to move the actions in 30A that deal with
19   allocation of greater amberjack and gray triggerfish to
20   Considered but Deferred.
21
22   MR. GILL:    Second.
23
24   CHAIRMAN MINTON: We’ve coined a lot of new terms here. We now
25   have body language and deferments and -- Is that your motion?
26
27   MS. MORRIS:   Those are the correct actions?   I haven’t doubled
28   checked that, but those are the right actions? Thank you.
29
30   CHAIRMAN MINTON: We have a second by Mr. Gill. I have to agree
31   with Julie. I think we could spend the rest of the day, if not
32   the rest of the week, trying to come to some -- I don’t think
33   we’ll ever come to consensus, but at least come to some
34   agreement here.   I think this may be the wiser part of this
35   issue to move forward.      Is there any further discussion
36   regarding the motion?
37
38   MR. TEEHAN: Mr. Chairman, for the record, I’m going to have to
39   abstain from this motion.
40
41   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Thank you, Bill.  Any other?   With that, is
42   there objection to the motion? Seeing none, the motion carries.
43   Good job, Ms. Morris. Stu, where does that leave us now?
44
45   MR. KENNEDY:   The question would be do you want to go through
46   any of these? The only other issue that -- The only other two
47   issues that I know of are, one, you have not picked a preferred
48   for the gray triggerfish commercial management measures. There


                                         172
 1   are about six of them and it might be worth considering picking
 2   one of those.
 3
 4   The other one is to continue the discussion from this morning
 5   about whether you want to move the accountability measures for
 6   gray triggerfish. We heard the discussion this morning from Dr.
 7   Crabtree about not doing that for greater amberjack, but moving
 8   the one for gray triggerfish, potentially, to Considered but
 9   Rejected. That’s all that you would have to do to this at this
10   point.
11
12   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   What’s the committee preference?
13
14   MS. MORRIS: Could Stu repeat the two things that he would like
15   us to do? I’m a little thick right now and so say it one more
16   time.
17
18   MR. KENNEDY:   There are two issues. The more important one at
19   this point, I think, is there is no preferred alternative for
20   the commercial management measures in gray triggerfish.     It’s
21   the last action item, Action 12, and should you pick a preferred
22   alternative to recommend to the full council.
23
24   Then the other one was a continuation of the discussion this
25   morning on removing accountability measures.     You removed the
26   accountability measures from 30B for grouper and the question
27   becomes should you do the same for the accountability measure
28   for gray triggerfish. There was discussion about not doing that
29   for greater amberjack this morning, but the question still
30   remains, should you do that for gray triggerfish.
31
32   Again, my recommendation would be the same as it was this
33   morning.   It’s a very complicated process and until you have a
34   chance to review the whole concept of ACLs and AMs, it will be
35   difficult.
36
37   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   You want to try to go through Action Item 12
38   and see what we can come up with there?
39
40   MR. KENNEDY:   It’s page 73.
41
42   CHAIRMAN MINTON: We’ve got about thirty-eight or forty minutes
43   left and so we do have a little bit of time. What I plan to do
44   when we finish this is go directly into Other Business and take
45   care of some items we have there.     If there’s any time left,
46   we’ll come back with a little bit of discussion on goliath, but
47   that’s kind of the roadmap I’ve got set for us right now.
48


                                     173
 1   MR. KENNEDY: For Action 12, which are the commercial reductions
 2   for gray triggerfish, on page 73 are the actual alternatives.
 3   Alternative 1, obviously, is status quo.       Alternative 2 is
 4   establish a commercial trip limit of forty pounds, which reduces
 5   the landings by 63 percent.    Essentially, your target at this
 6   point was still the old allocation alternative, which is the
 7   full time series, and so it was a 61 percent reduction.
 8
 9   Alternative 3 is increase the commercial size limit to sixteen
10   inches. Alternative 4 is increase the commercial size limit to
11   fifteen inches and establish a commercial trip limit of 210
12   pounds. Alternative 5 is increase the commercial size limit to
13   fourteen inches fork length and establish a commercial trip of
14   ninety pounds.
15
16   Alternative 6, which is an alternative that you added two
17   meetings ago, added before it went to public hearing, was to
18   increase the commercial size limit to fourteen inches fork
19   length and establish a commercial quota.
20
21   It starts out at 80,000 pounds in 2008 and increases over time.
22   This will depend upon what happens with the rebuilding plan you
23   have in here currently and whether you would change that, but
24   there hasn’t been a discussion of changing that one for gray
25   triggerfish and so that should still work.
26
27   The SSC had no recommendations and the Reef Fish AP was under
28   the assumption at the time that the allocation would change and
29   therefore, had a recommendation that’s not essentially in here
30   at this point.
31
32   MR. GILL:   Stu, would you refresh my memory on public hearing
33   comments relative to Action 12?
34
35   MR. KENNEDY: For Action 12, the commercial fishermen agreed --
36   The recreational fishermen wanted a quota.   No, that was for
37   amberjack.    They had no comment on what the commercial
38   stipulations would be -- I’m sorry, but are you talking about
39   the public hearings or the Reef Fish AP?
40
41   MR. GILL:   Public hearings.
42
43   MR. KENNEDY:  Good.   I was at the right one.   They accepted a
44   fourteen-inch  minimum   size   fork  length   fairly   readily.
45   Otherwise, there were no real comments about what else they
46   would take. In the public hearing comments, there weren’t.
47
48   In the Reef Fish AP, they accepted a quota.   It was a different


                                    174
 1   quota, because they were under a different assumption about what
 2   the reduction would have to be, but they accepted that a quota
 3   was necessary.
 4
 5   MS. WILLIAMS:   I have actually a     couple of questions. One, if
 6   you’re not going to deal with the      allocation basis right now, I
 7   don’t know how you could go           in and pick one of these
 8   alternatives, because it’s showing    different allocation basis.
 9
10   I believe I read somewhere you actually needed a 49 percent, I
11   think it was 49, on your triggerfish, but the other thing I
12   didn’t understand is why in the assessment it was predominantly
13   -- The information was in the eastern Gulf and did not reflect
14   the condition throughout its range and I don’t know how we were
15   allowed to do that. That came out of the document. I read it
16   in there.
17
18   DR. CRABTREE: Kay, we’ve had many discussions about that issue
19   and we had a presentation from the Science Center, when they
20   went through all of that and looked at the eastern and western
21   Gulf and all of that. Basically, where it left it is we need to
22   manage the stock throughout the Gulf and there’s no sound basis
23   to believe that one part of the Gulf is in significantly
24   different shape than the other.
25
26   There are limits to it and more of the catches come from the
27   eastern Gulf.   I don’t remember when, but I know we had the
28   Center go through this two or three meetings ago, on a couple of
29   occasions, and I think we even got some documents from the
30   Center that went through and addressed this.   That stuff is in
31   the record and I’m sure folks can make that available to you if
32   you wanted to look at it.
33
34   MS. WILLIAMS: Thank you for bringing me up on that, but still,
35   how do you pick these trip limits and size limits and things
36   like that if you don’t go here and pick an allocation basis and
37   how do you do that when you’re not dealing with the recreational
38   side of the triggerfish? We just jumped right to the commercial
39   and I don’t understand what you’re doing.
40
41   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    We’ve   already    picked   a   preferred   for   the
42   recreational.
43
44   MR. KENNEDY: The preferred for the recreational that you picked
45   and the list of alternatives for that, as well as for greater
46   amberjack, are based on the long time series for both of them,
47   for both species. All the alternatives in this thing for actual
48   management reductions are based on that long time series.


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 1
 2   I’m going to need some guidance eventually, from either the
 3   committee or the council, on exactly how to deal with this in
 4   the document for the January meeting if we don’t find someplace
 5   to put the allocation questions and we need a decision on how to
 6   do these. Without that, you could pretty much make any decision
 7   you wanted about how to manage the two sides.         They don’t
 8   necessarily have to be the same.
 9
10   In this particular case, the Gulf-wide, sector-wide reduction
11   has to be about 49 percent. In amberjack, it has to be about 32
12   percent across the board. You don’t necessarily have to do that
13   equal proportional.   You could do it anyway you want and you
14   wouldn’t necessarily have to talk about allocation.
15
16   You’ve done it in the past, for vermilion snapper, for instance,
17   and you provided a rationale that you felt that one group was
18   more responsible for the current condition of the stock than
19   another and adjusted the management measures accordingly.
20   That’s the guidance that I need, because right now, everything
21   in here is based on full time series decisions.
22
23   MS. WILLIAMS:   To that point, what you’re telling me is okay,
24   we’ve picked the long time series for the recreational sector,
25   is what you just said, and so do we have to pick the long time
26   series for the commercial, because that’s what we did in the
27   recreational sector, and maybe that’s not what we want to do,
28   because commercial doesn’t really need a 61 percent.
29
30   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Kay, I think they would have to be the same
31   for both fisheries.      We may come back and readdress the
32   recreational, but certainly you would have to have the same time
33   series for allocation within the two.
34
35   MS. WILLIAMS:   Okay, but I still don’t understand if you only
36   need a 48 percent, why are we looking at a 61 percent? That’s
37   all, by your chart.
38
39   MR. KENNEDY:   All I can tell you, again, is that this document
40   was built on the basis of your original preferred alternative
41   for allocation for both greater amberjack and for gray
42   triggerfish and both of those were -- What went to public
43   hearing was the long time series, which means that for this
44   particular case, the recreational landings were to be reduced by
45   45 percent and the commercial by 61 percent.
46
47   That’s what the allocation or that long time series did. That
48   can be changed, but I need guidance from the committee or the


                                   176
 1   council on how to do that, barring going back into allocation
 2   again, which we don’t want to do.
 3
 4   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   We’re past that.    Is there interest on the
 5   committee at this point to try to pick a preferred, because I’ve
 6   got something I would like to add in here a little bit later.
 7
 8   MS. MORRIS:    I would move that Alternative 6 be the preferred
 9   alternative.    It combines the increased size limit with a hard
10   quota.
11
12   MR. GILL:   Second.
13
14   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    There’s a motion and a second.       Just to
15   comment on that a little bit, I think if we had done this early
16   on in amberjack, where we tried every way we could to avoid a
17   hard TAC, I say we, me and Corky did that, to avoid hard quotas
18   and closures and so forth, that we wouldn’t be in this box now.
19   I certainly think we’re on the right track there.     I guess we
20   may -- Well, we do know that also that release mortality in this
21   fishery is almost zero and is that correct, Andy?
22
23   MR. KENNEDY:   1.5 percent.
24
25   CHAIRMAN MINTON: 1.5 percent is not measurable, but     thank you.
26   Do we need -- I guess this is where I was headed, but   do we need
27   more combinations of this size limit or are you happy   with this?
28   She’s happy with that.   Okay, good.   Is there other   discussion
29   on the motion?
30
31   DR. LEARD: I just wanted to point out that the Law Enforcement
32   AP also recommended that the council either go with Alternatives
33   3 or 6, that don’t have trip limits. As they have consistently
34   noted to the council, they’re pretty much opposed to trip
35   limits.
36
37   CHAIRMAN MINTON:     Thank you, Rick.      Is there any other
38   discussion?  We have a motion on the floor, which is to adopt
39   Alternative 6 as the preferred.   There’s been discussion.   Is
40   there any objection to adopting this as our preferred? Hearing
41   none, the motion passes.   I think that kind of wraps it up in
42   terms of what we have to do with this.    I shouldn’t have said
43   that.
44
45   DR. CRABTREE:   I was going to bring up what Bob did, which is
46   the issue of the accountability measures and timing of all this.
47   All of the things with greater amberjack have the reductions
48   going in place next year.     Now we’re coming in January and


                                    177
 1   taking final action and the regulations won’t be implemented,
 2   likely, until fall of next year.
 3
 4   Now, the catches of greater amberjack have been volatile from
 5   year to year, but it’s quite possible that the recreational
 6   sector and the commercial sector would be over their share of
 7   the catch by then and so I think it’s critical that we have
 8   accountability measures in here for greater amberjack, but I
 9   think we need to give some thought about how we’re going to
10   handle that.
11
12   It may be that what we need to do next year is when the final
13   rule publishes, if both sectors are over, we close the fishery
14   down for the remainder of the year and then we make adjustments
15   to 2008 to keep us going, but I do think because we’re running
16   out of time that we do need to keep accountability measures in
17   here for greater amberjack.
18
19   I’m okay with moving them out at this point for gray
20   triggerfish, but I have real concerns that we’re going to be
21   under the gun again next year and then the other thing is if we
22   don’t get compatible regulations from the states very quickly
23   next year, that’s going to impair our ability to get all of that
24   done. We need to have some discussion of how we want to handle
25   that I guess we probably ought to go through the accountability
26   mechanism for greater amberjack.
27
28   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   We can certainly do that. It’s going to cut
29   in on your time on your other business, but I would like to
30   point out now you keep saying that when the final rule
31   publishes, when would that be?     If we adopt the measures in
32   January, when will your agency have the final rule ready?
33
34   DR. CRABTREE:   I would guess it would be sometime in the fall,
35   early fall, but it’s difficult for me to know.
36
37   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    Are you going to come back and ask for an
38   emergency interim rule to handle that? Otherwise, we don’t have
39   a rule to go into place and we’re going to go right through it
40   and by default, because it’s not in place, we’re going to be
41   potentially over.   If we’re going with status quo, we could be
42   potentially over harvest by the time you publish the interim
43   rule and then we’re already behind. Do you see where I’m at?
44
45   DR. CRABTREE: I see where you’re at and I’ve given that a lot
46   of thought.   One alternative way to approach this would be to
47   request an interim rule and try to get the management measures
48   in place early. The problem with that is even an interim rule


                                   178
 1   likely wouldn’t be put in place until June or so and so we don’t
 2   get too much out of that, potentially.
 3
 4   CHAIRMAN MINTON: I guess my counter, Roy, is you keep saying if
 5   we don’t get compatible measures with the states that we’re
 6   going to be in trouble and yet, you’re not going to have
 7   something we can get compatible to before next fall.
 8
 9   DR. CRABTREE: I’m talking about compatible regulations with the
10   states within six to seven or eight months after we do publish a
11   final rule.   I’m not talking about compatible regulations with
12   the states prior to us publishing a final rule, but if we
13   publish a final rule in September of next year and then the
14   states take an additional six to eight months to put regulations
15   in place following that, then we’re well into the next year and
16   we may fail to even get the catches constrained by the following
17   year. Do you follow me?
18
19   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   What I follow is that we’re going to be behind
20   regardless.
21
22   DR. CRABTREE: That’s the issue I’m trying to bring up, Vernon.
23   We need to recognize that now.      We need to talk about the
24   accountability mechanisms.   We need to make sure that we’re
25   prepared to, when the final rule publishes next year, that if
26   we’re over in the recreational and/or commercial sector that we
27   close both fisheries down right then, when the final rule
28   publishes.
29
30   Then we have the accountability mechanisms to make adjustments
31   for the following year’s catch, in order to do that. That’s why
32   we need the accountability mechanisms. If you want to come back
33   and talk about those at full council, we can do that.
34
35   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   We may have.   I guess my problem with it is
36   you’re talking about almost at least a year before we have the
37   rule published and then some amount of time, depending on the
38   states, before they can get compatible regulations.
39
40   It just appears to me if we’re that close    to being over-shooting
41   the harvest quotas now that it’s almost a    certainty that because
42   of the delay in publishing the final rule    and compatibility with
43   the states that the certainty is we’re       going to be over and
44   those accountability measures will kick in   immediately.
45
46   DR. CRABTREE:   One way we could try to avoid that would be
47   requesting an interim rule to go in place next year some time
48   and put in place a closure, or something along those lines, for


                                    179
 1   a portion of next year.
 2
 3   There are no easy choices here or easy answers and I can’t make
 4   the system work faster than it works and I don’t even really
 5   know what to put in place in an interim rule right now, because
 6   we haven’t decided exactly what we’re going to do, but those are
 7   the realities of what we’re faced with and it is going to be
 8   difficult, but I think we’re going to have to have discussion on
 9   that and then we’re going to have to have the discussion Stu is
10   asking for for the basis of figuring the reductions.
11
12   We can come back to that at full council if you want to, because
13   I think we have another very difficult issue to discuss in Other
14   Business.
15
16   CHAIRMAN MINTON: I agree and I think that’s where I would like
17   to head now.   We’ve got some issues under Other Business that
18   are going to take time and I would recommend to the committee
19   that we take these accountability measures and try to address
20   them at full council, unless there is serious objection.
21
22   MS. MORRIS:   I agree with where we’re going on accountability
23   measures, as you just stated.      That’s fine.   I don’t know
24   whether you want to do it now or wait until full council, but I
25   think we definitely need to change our preferred alternative in
26   the recreational harvest reduction issues, which is Action 4,
27   because our preferred alternative now is the fractional bag
28   limit and I think after public hearings that we don’t want that
29   to be our preferred alternative anymore.
30
31   We can wait until tomorrow to do something about that, but I
32   just want to say that I think we’re going to -- The committee
33   probably would all agree that we need to change our preferred
34   alternative there.
35
36   CHAIRMAN MINTON:    I agree and I think we’ll have a better
37   opportunity to discuss it more fully at full council, if that’s
38   okay with you. As I said, we’re going to have to reschedule the
39   discussion on goliath grouper and with that, and nineteen
40   minutes and counting, under Other Business, we have Dr. Crabtree
41   to review red snapper recreational fisheries and the quota
42   overruns and then we’re going to go to Ms. Walker and questions
43   on presentations on marine reserves.
44
45                             OTHER BUSINESS
46
47   DR. CRABTREE: There have been some documents that have been
48   handed out that I think everyone has.        These are the


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 1   recreational red snapper landings through Wave 4.     If you’ll
 2   look at one towards the bottom that says 2007 Landings Wave 1
 3   through 4 Only, the bottom line is as of the end of Wave 4,
 4   which is the end of August, through MRFSS alone, we have landed
 5   3.165 million pounds of red snapper.
 6
 7   We’re anticipating that we will overrun the recreational quota
 8   this year of somewhere between 1.5 and two million pounds. Now,
 9   if you look at the histogram that was handed out and look on the
10   back side of it, at Figure 3, this is the West Florida MRFSS red
11   snapper landings.   The black is state water landings and the
12   open is federal water landings. What you see is --
13
14   MR. PERRET:  Roy, I’m sorry, but I have two pages that 2007
15   Total Catch Waves 1 to 4 Only and they both have different
16   numbers.
17
18   DR. CRABTREE:    One is landings is numbers and one should be
19   pounds.   If it says landings, I believe that’s pounds and the
20   other is numbers.
21
22   MR. PERRET:   I don’t have anything with any figures.
23
24   DR. CRABTREE:   Some people do.  If you don’t have it, if you
25   look at the table that indicates the 3.165 million pounds, if
26   you look under state pounds landed, West Florida, you’ll see
27   that over a million pounds of red snapper were landed in state
28   waters of Florida.
29
30   If you do have the figure, you’ll see that the state water
31   landings on the west coast of Florida jumped up to unprecedented
32   levels.   We’ve also taken a look at the numbers of anglers
33   landing above the bag limit of two fish and a substantial
34   percentage of anglers off of the west coast of Florida landed
35   three fish and there were substantial numbers who landed four
36   fish.
37
38   It looks like two factors contributed to the overrun.    One was
39   the assumption in the interim rule that effort was going to be
40   down by 10 percent, which does not appear to have borne out, and
41   two, and more seriously, was the lack of compatible regulations
42   in the states.
43
44   Bear in mind too that these numbers don’t include any landings
45   from Texas or from the headboat survey and so they’re going to
46   get worse.   We have a problem in that we have had very poor
47   compliance with the interim rule and what I would ask the
48   council to do are several things.


                                     181
 1
 2   One, I would suggest that we as a council write a letter to   the
 3   Gulf of Mexico States emphasizing the need for compatible     red
 4   snapper regulations as soon as possible and pointing out to   the
 5   states that we will have to come in and make adjustments to   the
 6   federal season if we’re unable to get these.
 7
 8   Then finally, I would like to suggest to you that we add an
 9   action to Amendment 30B and I would like to add an action to it
10   that would require that all federally-permitted reef fish
11   vessels, meaning vessels which have a reef fish commercial
12   permit or a reef fish charter permit, and I’m making this in the
13   form of a motion, must comply with federal regulations as a
14   condition of their permit, regardless of where they’re fishing.
15   If I could get a second for that, I would provide some
16   rationale.
17
18   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Do we have a second?
19
20   MS. MORRIS:   Second.
21
22   DR. CRABTREE:  We already have a provision in the IFQ program
23   that requires all of the vessels with an IFQ endorsement to
24   comply with the IFQ regulations, regardless of where they’re
25   fishing.
26
27   I think this will go a long ways towards helping us keep some of
28   the catches in control and I think if we don’t do this that
29   we’re going to continue to be behind the eight-ball in many of
30   these fisheries, in terms of compatible regulations.
31
32   MR. RIECHERS:   In your concerns over the landings on certainly
33   the recreational side, and based on your motion, which included
34   those who both had a charter permit and a commercial permit, how
35   do you view that affecting the commercial permits, who in our
36   state waters have to abide by the recreational bag limits?
37
38   DR. CRABTREE: It would be my intent, and we can add this to the
39   motion if you would like, that unless there are more restrictive
40   state regulations that apply. In other words, if a state wished
41   to implement more restrictive regulations on these fisheries,
42   then a vessel fishing in state waters would have to comply with
43   those and that I would be fine with.
44
45   MS. WALKER: First, let me say I am so glad that Florida now has
46   red snapper and lots of them. Roy, is not the effort in Florida
47   state waters greater than the effort in the EEZ off of Florida?
48


                                     182
 1   DR. CRABTREE:  Which effort?   Do you mean overall recreational
 2   fishing effort? I’m sure it is.
 3
 4   MS. WALKER:   Let me ask you this question then. For instance,
 5   we know that folks didn’t like the two fish bag limit and
 6   apparently in Florida they really didn’t and so when they were
 7   intercepted at the dock, I feel certain that when they were
 8   asked where they fished they were going to say state waters, so
 9   that they wouldn’t get a ticket or be harassed, because they had
10   caught them out in the EEZ.
11
12   Since the effort is so much higher in state waters than it is in
13   the EEZ, aren’t those numbers of fish reported caught in state
14   waters then extrapolated through all of the effort and trips
15   across state waters and couldn’t that be the reason for this 62
16   percent increase?
17
18   DR. CRABTREE:   These are preliminary numbers. I would have to
19   ask that question of the MRFSS folks. I don’t think they’ve had
20   the wave meeting where they go over these numbers.     They may
21   change some. I don’t know, Bobbi.
22
23   MS. WALKER:   Another thing I wanted to ask you about is since
24   we’re talking about effort and this increase in landings, I
25   noticed in your report that the moratorium charterboat permits
26   seem to have fallen off considerably. I think there used to be
27   in excess of 1,625 plus or minus permits and I think, in your
28   report, you listed 1,300. Do you know what’s happening there?
29
30   DR. CRABTREE:   No.
31
32   MR. RIECHERS:   Roy, it will just take a second.    I certainly
33   understand the dilemma you’re in, because, again, we don’t want
34   to be faced with coming back here with overruns on quotas and
35   then us finding ourselves in a predicament of not meeting the
36   rebuilding plans and then having to take even more drastic
37   action, which is what we just finished up with with 27 and 14,
38   because of us not looking in to see what was going on with the
39   sectors that were affected by the previous plan.
40
41   Neither one of these sectors were as guilty as maybe some other
42   sectors at that time, but that being said, I’m not against or
43   opposed to the concept of this language going out for public
44   hearing and seeing what kind of feedback we get from it.      I
45   think we need a lot of discussion about it.
46
47   I think, even as you just said, there are times when the states
48   have  been   probably  more  conservative  in   our  management


                                   183
 1   previously on this species, as well as others, and one of the
 2   things we’re going to have to work on as a group and getting
 3   better about this is you all looking at the rules and not just
 4   saying that they’re incompatible and they need to be compatible,
 5   but actually trying to look at them to determine whether or not
 6   they’re more conservative or less conservative.
 7
 8   This isn’t the only species that we’re facing this in. As you
 9   well know, the HMS rules that have recently been published,
10   where we may have situations where we’re being asked to comply
11   and yet, we’re already conserving more with our management
12   strategies in state waters.
13
14   I think we really need to work towards a solution to look at
15   these not as are they compatible or not, but are they actually
16   creating the conservation benefits we need to be receiving and
17   certainly the State of Texas is willing to work with you in that
18   respect.   Bearing in mind that I certainly don’t mind going to
19   public hearing and seeing what kind of feedback we get and some
20   of the legal interpretations we’ll see about this.
21
22   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Robin, just for a point, we’ve been to public
23   hearing.   We’re going to have one final public hearing when we
24   take final action.
25
26   MR. RIECHERS:   He has suggested this go to 30B, I believe is
27   what he was suggesting, the second document coming in the queue.
28
29   CHAIRMAN MINTON: My bad. Any further discussion on the motion?
30   Any objection to the motion? The motion carries.
31
32   DR. CRABTREE:   I would like to make a motion that the council
33   draft a letter to all of the Gulf States emphasizing the
34   importance of compatible red snapper regulations and other
35   regulations that are coming down the pike, but particularly red
36   snapper.
37
38   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Who seconded it?   Mr. Gill seconded it.
39
40   DR. CRABTREE:    I think we should be clear it’s recreational
41   regulations that we’re talking about and not commercial, because
42   the IFQ takes care of that.
43
44   MR. PERRET:    Dr. Crabtree,   did    any   states   comply   and   have
45   compatible regulations?
46
47   DR. CRABTREE:   Mr. Perret, the great state of Mississippi and
48   Louisiana did comply with the regulations this year.


                                     184
 1
 2   MR. PERRET:   I’m not on the committee, but it certainly seems
 3   like the letter should include that and I would suggest the
 4   states that did comply be named.
 5
 6   DR. CRABTREE:    I would accept that as a friendly amendment,
 7   instruction to staff.
 8
 9   DR. CRABTREE:   Folks, I understand how difficult this is, but
10   I’m trying to avoid not having a federal fishery and I’m afraid
11   if we don’t get this under control that we are going to very
12   rapidly find ourselves in a position where there may not be a
13   federal season.
14
15   If you’ll note, it was handed out to all of you, a letter from
16   Dr. Hogarth to Pete Jensen, Chairman of the Mid-Atlantic
17   Council, with respect to summer flounder, which basically raises
18   the issue that if they can’t get the recreational fishery under
19   control that there likely will not be a federal recreational
20   season for summer flounder and there may not be one for the
21   remainder of the rebuilding plan.   I’m trying to avoid letting
22   it come to this.
23
24   MS. WALKER:   Roy, I can appreciate your concern and wanting to
25   notify the states, but the state people are sitting here.     I
26   just think that it’s ridiculous for the council to write a
27   letter when they’re sitting here. They know the problem.
28
29   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   To that point, Roy?
30
31   DR. CRABTREE: Ms. Walker, many of these states have commissions
32   and commissioners who are not sitting here and who are providing
33   instructions to the state directors on things and that’s who
34   this letter needs to get to, are the commissioners.
35
36   I think the letter needs to make it clear that if we get into
37   early next year and we don’t have compatible regulations with
38   the Gulf States that we will have to reanalyze the basis for the
39   federal season next year and we will have to look at putting out
40   a rule to close the fishery down earlier.
41
42   When we do the analysis, we’re going to have to take into
43   account that likely none of the states will comply with the
44   early closure of the federal fishery and close even earlier in
45   order to compensate for that.    That’s what we do not want to
46   have happen and that’s what I’m trying to avoid.    This letter
47   needs to get to the commissioners in these states, so that they
48   understand that our hands are tied by the law right now and the


                                     185
 1   position we’re in.   That’s what I’m trying to accomplish with
 2   this.
 3
 4   MR. RIECHERS: Because I’m the overall chair and wanting to make
 5   sure we move the meeting along, I will be brief. Certainly let
 6   me assure you that your previous letters that you write get to
 7   our Executive Director, who shares them with our commission, and
 8   they certainly do look at these actions and they review what
 9   they choose to do.
10
11   They have chosen in the past not to comply with the particular
12   closures in the recreational fishing sector.       Some of the
13   rationale, as I’ve alluded before, are previous other rules and
14   other   sectors  that  we’ve   basically  managed   in  a  more
15   conservative fashion than other states and the whole council in
16   the past.
17
18   To assure you again, we will be reviewing this again this year
19   in our regulatory cycle, but certainly as we reach the council
20   level, I don’t know what kind of votes you would have, but I
21   don’t believe I could support this, because they already do
22   receive that notification. I was just wanting to make sure you
23   understand that they’re getting that.
24
25   CHAIRMAN MINTON: I echo Robin’s sentiments, but in the interest
26   of time, I would like to move forward and vote this up or down,
27   if that’s without objection. We’re going to have to do a hand
28   signal on this, because my ear is getting kind of worn out today
29   and it may not be as discerning as it was this morning. All in
30   favor of the motion signify by raising your hand; opposed same
31   sign.    The motion fails on a three to three vote.         That
32   concludes -- That almost concluded.
33
34   MR. TEEHAN: I’ll be brief. Just for my own point of reference
35   and so I can report back to my commission, what is the status of
36   30A and 30B as far as our time schedule at this point?
37
38   CHAIRMAN MINTON: Assuming we get through most of it, I believe
39   30B we could take up in January. 30A, April or have I got them
40   backwards?
41
42   MR. KENNEDY: 30A should be final in January, a decision by the
43   council, and then be submitted thereafter to the regional
44   office. At least that would be the intent. 30B --
45
46   CHAIRMAN MINTON:   Just for the record, he said 30B probably in
47   April.   Thank you.   Anything else?  Thank you all for bearing
48   with us.    I’m glad I didn’t have to sit in the audience and


                                   186
1   listen to this mess.    We’re going to take a break, a short
2   break, and then Karen will come back and expeditiously walk us
3   through the aquaculture. We’re adjourned.
4
5   (Whereupon, the meeting adjourned at 2:30 o’clock p.m., October
6   30, 2007.)
7
8                                - - -
9




                                  187
 1                           TABLE OF CONTENTS
 2
 3   Call to Order...............................................   2
 4
 5   Approval of Agenda..........................................   3
 6
 7   Approval of Minutes.........................................4/23
 8
 9   British Columbia IFQ Program................................   5
10
11   Scoping Document on Amendment 29............................ 24
12
13   Reports on Marine Reserves.................................. 44
14
15   Ecosystem Modeling Workshop Report.......................... 76
16
17   Draft Reef Fish Amendment 30B............................... 91
18
19   Red Snapper Allocation Discussion Document..................156
20
21   Reef Fish Amendment 30A.....................................162
22
23   Other Business..............................................180
24
25   Adjournment.................................................187
26
27   Table of Contents...........................................188
28
29   Table of Motions ...........................................189
30
31                                 - - -
32




                                    188
 1                            TABLE OF MOTIONS
 2
 3   PAGE 33:    Motion to move buyback and individual transferable
 4   effort quota to no longer be considered in the document.   The
 5   motion carried on page 34.
 6
 7   PAGE 42:    Motion that the charge to the ad hoc group includes
 8   tilefish.   The motion carried on page 43.
 9
10   PAGE 94: Motion under Action 1 to adopt Alternative 2 with Sub-
11   Options A and E as the preferred alternative.       The motion
12   carried on page 95.
13
14   PAGE 96:   Motion to remove Action 2 from the amendment to the
15   Considered but Rejected section. The motion carried on page 96.
16
17   PAGE 101:     Motion in Action 3 that Alternative 2       be    the
18   preferred alternative. The motion carried on page 102.
19
20   PAGE 103:     Motion in Action 4 that Alternative 2       be    the
21   preferred alternative. The motion carried on page 105.
22
23   PAGE 113:   Motion to not choose a preferred      alternative   in
24   Action 5. The motion carried on page 114.
25
26   PAGE 118: Motion to ask staff to start work on an amendment to
27   put in place accountability measures and annual catch limits for
28   our stocks that are undergoing overfishing, which are gag, red
29   snapper, greater amberjack, and gray triggerfish, and that these
30   accountability mechanisms go into that and to come back early
31   next year and start working to get those put in place.       The
32   motion carried on page 120.
33
34   PAGE 120:      Motion that Alternative 3 be the preferred
35   alternative in Action 7. The motion carried on page 121.
36
37   PAGE 123:    Motion to include the SSC’s recommendation as an
38   Alternative 5 in Action 8. The motion carried on page 125.
39
40   PAGE 125:   Motion to move Alternative 4 in Action 8 to the
41   Considered but Rejected section.  The motion carried on page
42   125.
43
44   PAGE 125:   Motion to Alternative 3 in Action 8 to Considered but
45   Rejected.   The motion carried on page 127.
46
47   PAGE 131:    Motion to take any alternatives that involve
48   increases in the gag minimum size limit and remove them from


                                    189
 1   further consideration.   The motion carried on page 132.
 2
 3   PAGE 134:   Motion that in the alternatives that the references
 4   to gag, black grouper, and red grouper be replaced with shallow-
 5   water grouper and to manage the group as a complex. The motion
 6   carried on page 136.
 7
 8   PAGE 138:    Motion to not consider any aggregate bag        limits
 9   higher than three fish. The motion carried on page 140.
10
11   PAGE 140: Motion to add an alternative that would allow a three
12   fish aggregate bag limit with the angler to decide the
13   composition of gag, red, or black.  The motion carried on page
14   143.
15
16   PAGE 147:   Motion to move Alternative 2 and Alternative 4 and
17   Alternative 5 to Considered but Rejected and add a new
18   alternative, it would now be Alternative 3, that would remove or
19   reduce size limits in the longline shallow-water grouper
20   fishery. The motion carried on page 149.
21
22   PAGE 153:   Motion to add an alternative that eliminates or
23   reduces the size limit for grouper for all commercial grouper
24   fisheries. The motion carried on page 154.
25
26   PAGE 166:       Motion that Alternative 1 be       the     preferred
27   alternative.   The motion carried on page 168.
28
29   PAGE 168: Motion to add an alternative to recast Alternative 1
30   with an increase in TAC, but still maintain the rebuilding plan
31   with annual increases in TAC and reaching rebuilding by the same
32   year as Alternative 1 and no increase in the overall harvest
33   relative to the status quo. The motion carried on page 169.
34
35   PAGE 172:   Motion to move the actions in 30A that deal with
36   allocation of greater amberjack and gray triggerfish to
37   Considered but Deferred. The motion carried on page 172.
38
39   PAGE 177:       Motion that Alternative 6 be       the     preferred
40   alternative.   The motion carried on page 177.
41
42   PAGE 182: Motion to add an action to Amendment 30B that would
43   require that all federally-permitted reef fish vessels, meaning
44   vessels which have a reef fish commercial permit or a reef fish
45   charter permit, comply with federal regulations as a condition
46   of their permit, regardless of where they’re fishing, unless
47   there are more restrictive state regulations that apply.    The
48   motion carried on page 184.


                                     190
1
2   PAGE 184: Motion that the council draft a letter to all of the
3   Gulf States emphasizing the importance of compatible red snapper
4   regulations and other regulations that are coming down the pike,
5   but particularly red snapper. The motion failed on page 186.
6
7                                - - -




                                  191

				
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