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DMR Home > Councils > DMR Advisory > Minutes >February 20, 2008

DMR Advisory Council Meeting Minutes
February 20, 2008

A meeting of the Department of Marine Resources’ (DMR) Advisory Council (AC) was held on this date at the Natural Resource Service Center, 6 Beech Street, Hallowell. AC members attending this meeting included Dana Rice – Chair, David Pecci – Secretary, Al West, Bob Baines, Mike Danforth, Susan Farady, Timothy Kief, Tim Harper, Glenn Libby, Scott Tilton and George Harris, Jr. Council members Vincent Balzano, Dana Temple, Rod Mitchell, and Jim Wadsworth were unable to attend. Department staff included Colonel Joe Fessenden, Linda Mercer, Pat Keliher and L. Churchill. Other attendees included Robin Alden and Ted Ames representing the Penobscot East Resource Center, Stonington, Gina LeDuc-Kuntz, Freeport, Lyman Kennedy, Portland and William Doane, Portland.

1. Welcome
The Chair called the meeting to order at 1:10pm.

2. Approval of minutes (see handout)
Motion: (D. Pecci, A. West) Motion to approve the minutes of the meeting held September 19, 2007. Discussion: None
Motion continued: Unanimous to approve (Dana Rice, David Pecci, Al West, Bob Baines, Mike Danforth, Susan Farady, Timothy Kief, Tim Harper, Glenn Libby, Scott Tilton and George Harris, Jr.)

3. Special Licenses: Topic – lobster culture

Penobscot East Resource Center represented by Robin Alden & Ted Ames (see handout)
Commissioner Lapointe: Brian Beal wasn’t able to be here today. There are two issues. One, both Penobscot East and the Downeast Institute want to hold above stage IV lobster larvae in pens or barrels. The issue was holding larger lobsters outside the hatcheries. If this became a bigger venture it would be called aquaculture. We have to pay attention to how we handle it from a regulatory perspective and how we handle use of the bottom. The second issue, because you’re asking for an extension, one of my big issues has always been is how you monitor the impacts or success of putting hatchery animals out and I don’t think you have an answer for that now but I’m curious.
Ted Ames: Last year we tried three different methods for raising stage V’s. Part of our lobster hatchery project has been releasing as many stage IV lobsters as possible and measuring the benefit. So along with the releases we engaged Rick Wahle from the Bigelow Lab and geneticist David Toole from MDIBL to do genetics work on the releases at the selected test sites. We released lobsters the first year of the project. We found the most of the stage IV’s disappeared where we released them. Rick said quite succinctly either release stage V or stop because we couldn’t tell where the little devils went after we released them. Stage IV’s you can grow in-house fairly effectively, Brian Beal has developed this very well. Stage V’s have to be in individual chambers, fed and cleansed daily. We agreed to 30K/year for Rick but needed time to do it. Last year we had money for one technician and using outside barrels in the harbor but didn’t prove totally successful because the water temperature in the harbor was colder than the hatchery. The end result when we harvested them was that most were still stage IV. The second run using the barrels we had southwesterly winds and low tides that resulted in high turbidity that fouled the grating preventing food to pass through. The survival rate was poor. Growing them in the wild wasn’t what it was cracked up to be after all. The other methods in house worked well; using a circulating water system and condo’s providing separation. Our need to have barrels with lobsters in the harbor is over unless we find a technology to work. We’re sticking to the hatchery and looking to supplement with new tools.
How are we monitoring? Primarily with Rick Wahle’s dive team. As I mentioned earlier, with DMR we were able to raise 60K for the first year of the project to release hatchery reared juveniles on site 3 years ago. This year with sea Grant funding extends Wahle and Toole’s work for two years. We’re well on the way. The project this year used all the stage V’s produced. There were 4,700 in all released on the test sites that are evaluated before and after release periodically. We found credible signals that lobsters can be released the second year were on site. We also found indications that there were zero lobsters from our initial release. It’s a project underway. It is going to take several years to prove survival and or retention on the sites. But it is underway. We produced over 93,500 stage IV’s and released ~8,700 stage V’s. We have found we can double the productivity in the hatchery with 2 staff for a rearing cost of ~45 – 55 cents each. If the survival rate after release is ~18-20% that’s a break even point. European hatchery projects are getting 36% survival rates; if we get half that or over 20% it is a plus for Zone C and the nearby areas. That is basically where we’re at. We’re optimistic, we’ve got good community support; each district gets a piece of the production.
The upper reached of Penobscot Bay have not been receiving recruits. These are ideal areas to plant. They were productive 5-10 years ago.
R. Alden: These area areas that Rick Wahle found there was no natural settlement. Our annual workshop we’ll be brainstorming how to take this forward including the monitoring.
This is an update and renewal of our license today is requested.
S. Tilton: Do you know why there is no natural settlement in certain areas?
R. Alden: According to Rick Wahle tide and currents play a part, some areas just don’t have natural settlement.
T. Ames: When we were tracking poor settlement earlier the problem was pollution. But since the 1970’s that has improved tremendously and in the 1980’s it was productive. It could have been the loss of eggers, pollution from Holtra-Chem or whatever. We’re just releasing juveniles there and it is hoped to be a local contingent there long enough to reproduce. That’s the underlying thesis.
T. Harper. Would it be better to put eggers there?
T. Ames: That’s probably not a bad strategy and should be a parallel experiment. Fishermen have done this in other places. But revitalizing a large section of bay…it should work. We need ground rules and that is certainly cheaper than growing them in-house.
At a recent New England Aquarium meeting we learned the Canadian are producing juveniles with 20-25% survival rates. Our stage IV survival rate is 50%; if 0.01% is the survival rate in the wild and we get 50%. This means for every one in the wild we’re getting 500 or 5000.
Comm. Lapointe: I think that’s a good question. Robin and I have had an ongoing conversation about this. I’m glad they are doing the assessment work because everybody loves hatcheries. Fresh water people love hatchery, they can see what they put back in the water. But I’m not sure this works. We either shouldn’t waste time or people’s money on them if they don’t work. When I first started the guys said the Cutler hatchery works, great thing, and that’s whey they have lobsters in eastern Maine but it may be or ultimately not be. We need to keep our eyes wide open and our hand on our wallets and let me ask if there is a better way. Could you v-notch or how many eggers could you put in to reach the same goals for the same amount of money? I don’t know the answer but that’s the right question. The other concern, watching lobster landings drop 20-25% this year, is they’ll say just put hatcheries up and we don’t need to do conservation. Those are just the concerns. On hatcheries you should find out if it works and if it doesn’t then stop. If it does work find out the cost of production per unit and see where you go.

Motion: (B. Baines, M. Danforth) Motion to approve the continuation of the lobster hatchery and restoration activities for their special license described. Discussion: None
Motion continued: Unanimous to approve (Dana Rice, David Pecci, Al West, Bob Baines, Mike Danforth, Susan Farady, Timothy Kief, Tim Harper, Glenn Libby, Scott Tilton and George Harris, Jr.)

Downeast Institute (for Dr. Brian F. Beal – see handout)
Motion: (D. Pecci, T. Harper) Motion to approve the continuation of the lobster activities using the impoundment at DEI as described. Discussion: None
Motion continued: Unanimous to approve (Dana Rice, David Pecci, Al West, Bob Baines, Mike Danforth, Susan Farady, Timothy Kief, Tim Harper, Glenn Libby, Scott Tilton and George Harris, Jr.)

3. Regulations - Action (voting) (see each handout)

Chapter 32.20 Elver Fishing License Lottery – repeal
Col. Fessenden briefed the council on the statutory moratorium behind the regulation repeal. There is no sunset on the law; we are down to ~400 licenses.
Comm. Lapointe: There were 800 licenses and only about 50 folks fishing; the Marine Resources Committee brought this down to 400 and it will be some time before it goes back up. There will be no new licenses for the foreseeable future.
G. Libby: If you get out, your license is gone.
Motion: (S. Farady, B. Baines) Motion to approve the rulemaking in Chapter 32.20 Elver Fishing License Lottery – repeal
Discussion: None
Motion continued: Unanimous to approve (Dana Rice, David Pecci, Al West, Bob Baines, Mike Danforth, Susan Farady, Timothy Kief, Tim Harper, Glenn Libby, Scott Tilton and George Harris, Jr.)

Chapter 50.02 Spiny Dogfish, Harvest, Possession and Landing Restrictions – clarification
Commissioner Lapointe briefed the council on the proposal clarifying what happens when the state waters are closed and the federal waters are open and allowing harvesters to land in Maine ports.
Motion: (S. Farady, B. Baines) Motion to approve the rulemaking in Chapter 50.02 Spiny Dogfish, Harvest, Possession and Landing Restrictions – clarification
Discussion: None
Motion continued: Unanimous to approve (Dana Rice, David Pecci, Al West, Bob Baines, Mike Danforth, Susan Farady, Timothy Kief, Tim Harper, Glenn Libby, Scott Tilton and George Harris, Jr.)

Chapter 55.04(D) Maine Gillnet Bait Fishing Regulations, New Meadows River restrictions
Col. Fessenden reviewed the history behind the proposed rule.
D. Pecci: The original rule that was sunset is the same as this proposed rule. The original rule was a compromise as it was thought it should be the same as the 2 hour tending rule on the Kennebec River. But the New Meadows is not a nursery for striped bass so the 4 hours was a relaxed version of what goes on in the Kennebec. It has cut down on the number of kills I’ve seen. The other reason for the 4 hours is there are some studies that indicate that striped bass mortality goes way up after 4 hours. There are not many fishermen there; there are 2-3 isolated areas in the river and the vast majority of the area is open therefore it was felt best to address this locally not make it a wholesale closure. The only difference between the old rule and this rule is there is no sunset on this rule.
Motion: (D. Pecci, A. West) Motion to approve the rulemaking in Chapter 50.02 Spiny Dogfish, Harvest, Possession and Landing Restrictions – clarification
Discussion: None
Motion continued: Unanimous to approve (Dana Rice, David Pecci, Al West, Bob Baines, Mike Danforth, Susan Farady, Timothy Kief, Tim Harper, Glenn Libby, Scott Tilton and George Harris, Jr.)

4. Other Business

Nomination Committee for 2008 election of officers: Volunteers Al West, Bob Baines and Susan Farady will report back for the next meeting.

Chapter 25.08 Double Tagging in Zone G – review
Col. Fessenden reviewed the background on this rule. There had been complaints from zone G that the Zone F fishermen were fishing over 50% of their gear outside their home zone in zone F. After the rule was passed we agreed to revisit and update the council and now we’ve had a few seasons with this in place. Out complaints now are nil so from an enforcement standpoint it is successful. Prior to the rule we would have to haul and count over 400 traps, in offshore waters, which was tough to do to prove a case. This rule is an extra burden; and they have to pay an extra 10 cents a piece for the required second tag. But as a result compliance is very good. Now we’re getting complaints from Zone F fishermen as their offshore area is limited. In one case a Zone F fishermen lost a lot of gear because it is also where the shrimpers work. It was recommended that he go to the Zone F Council as this was winter bottom for the Portland guys.
There are roughly 30-40 fishermen who double tag. Fewer are now winter fishing for lobster.
Lyman Kennedy: We’re hemmed in so we have to go west. The guys say that during the last 2 years the same amount of gear is out there. Should apply this to the whole coast… Inside the 3 mile line is closer to where you have to be double tagged. The Zone G guys still say there are lots of traps. Seems to have settled out; they admit it didn’t so much to reduce the problem.
Bill Doane: Like Joe said this is complaint driven. When talking to the wardens they don’t know to enforce this on the other side of the line into Zone F. This is a Zone G war; if I can put a rule or law against his business to force the next guy over to do more that is what this turned to be. The warden force is so small with the increased number of rules they need more wardens to enforce. This takes time to do the double tag versus the other rules. The Portland guys run a long way to fish. This should be coastwide.
Lyman Kennedy: Regarding the buffer zone, the guys from Portland changed to Zone G so they can fish their 800 and many don’t realize that. We couldn’t go east due to the 600 trap limit in Zone E.
Comm. Lapointe: Using the double tagging this issue is far easier to enforce and the reasons it was needed here are not found in other zones. Similar to the New Meadows, it was a local issue and doesn’t make sense to have it coastwide. After reviewing, it has been working after all.
B. Baines: Lyman and Bill brought this back to our last Lobster Advisory Council (LAC) meeting but there was no consensus on this. It is a southern Maine problem. There is nothing from the LAC asking for double tagging elsewhere in the state. Opening up outside 3 miles is something else and there are no answers on where to go what that now.
Col. Fessenden: Not to contradict Bill but we’ve hauled 1000’s of traps; he’s right about Zone F fishermen and Zone G guys don’t know we’ve checked gear. This winter we’ve had several Dynamic Area Management areas (DAM’s) to check so we’ve been hauling lots of gear and there has been excellent compliance.
D. Rice: The LAC is not making any recommendation.
S. Tilton and T. Kief requested a map / example of a lobster zone boundary with a buffer zone.
Comm. Lapointe: A buffer zone is a separate issue from the double tag rule.
B. Baines: This council said we would revisit this after a few years. Lyman and Bill came to the last LAC meeting and there were no consensus on this issue.
S. Tilton: Could you send out a survey or questionnaire?
B. Baines: Sarah Cotnoir can take it to each of the 7 zone councils; and also place on the agenda’s particularly for Zones G and F.
S. Tilton: When we’re asked to weigh in on this I feel like we’re doing it in a vacuum.
D. Rice: As the chair of the LAC, to B. Baines, this is a zone issue first and therefore should come form the LAC first.
L. Kennedy: We have a small area but it is deep but crowded. We can go east if we give up 200 traps.
M. Danforth: Wide go outside 3 miles?
Comm. Lapointe: The lobsters move in and off shore…
D. Rice: This is a LAC council issue first before this council weighs in.
B. Baines: Will put on next LAC agenda.

ASMFC & NEFMC Updates
Comm. Lapointe gave updates the ASMFC amendment process to the River Herring Management Plan and the Lobster Plan. The NEFMC ongoing action is taking place on Groundfish, scallops Amendment 11, and Council nominations are due the 15th of March.

Public Health Program Peer Review
Comm. Lapointe explained that the Public Health Program came under scrutiny last year there therefore a peer review was initiated and has resulted in several new legislative proposals. Some of the proposals include creating a new shellfish advisory council of which the chair would become an ex-officio member of this council

Annual Research Agenda
Linda Mercer and Pat Keliher briefed the council on the annual research agenda which includes brief descriptions on each program including the newly incorporated salmon research program form the merging of the Atlantic Salmon Commission with the Department. Brief discussion.
Motion: (A. West, D. Pecci) Motion to accept the annual research report and forward it to the Marine Resources Committee with a letter signed by the Advisory Council Chair, Dana Rice.
Discussion: None
Motion continued: Unanimous to approve (Dana Rice, David Pecci, Al West, Bob Baines, Mike Danforth, Susan Farady, Timothy Kief, Tim Harper, Glenn Libby, Scott Tilton and George Harris, Jr.)

Other Updates
Comm. Lapointe: Senator Snowe held a federal hearing in Brewer, February 19, 2008 on the whale/lobster gear rules. A reported today the lobster industry had decreased to a value of 56 million in 2007 (down from 66 million in 2006 and further decline from previous years). He will be discussing with the lobster scientists what might be taking place. There is a new stock assessment coming this year.
B. Baines: The lobstermen are concerned too with the drop off in landings.
Discussion continued on the drop off in landings.

Commissioner Lapointe gave an update on the status of the governor’s consolidation plans for the Department. Many constituents have expressed concerned about retention of a cabinet level representative.

There was a brief discussion about upcoming proposed laws for changes to the scallop fishery.

Motion: (D. Pecci, A. West), the Council voted to adjourn.
Motion continued: Unanimous to approve