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Area 1

Lobster Conservation Management Team Minutes

Subcommittee

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Lobster Conservation Management Team
Area 1 Subcommittee
May 27, 2008

Members present: Cheri Patterson (NH F&G), Damon Frampton (NH Industry member), Patience Whitten (NOAA), Bob Ross (NOAA), Charles Lynch (NOAA), Jason Hooper (ME Industry member), John Carver (ME Industry Member), Jon Carter (ME Industry member), Terry Stockwell (ME DMR), Dan McKiernan (MA DMF), Bobby Martin (MA Industry member), Clare McBane (NH F&G)

Statement of Problem: Concern with unrestricted access into the Federal waters (EEZ) of Lobster Management Area 1 (LMA1) and conversion of Federal non-trap lobster permits to trap permits.

Purpose/Goal:
1) Curtail influx of new permits/effort into LMA1 EEZ waters while still maintaining the following objectives.
• Maintain cultural and historic participation within LMA1.
• Maintain conservation value by capping trap effort at recent levels.
2) Draft options for a potential limited entry program into LMA1 EEZ waters.

Options:
Constrain the influx of new permit/trap effort into LMA1 within EEZ waters by:
1) Establishing a Limited Entry Program for Federal permit holders that would restrict future access into the Federal LMA1 EEZ waters based on certain qualification criteria, such as:
a) Proof of possession of a Federal Lobster Permit during a specified time period,
b) Proof of LMA1 designation within some specified time period, and
c) Proof of the purchase of lobster trap tags with an LMA1 designation within some specified time period. (Note: The Federal requirement to designate Lobster Management Area’s (LMA’s) began in May, 2000, therefore the qualifying time periods could, at most, span the years between 2000-2008, or some shorter time periods).
2 Restricting future access to fish with traps in any LMA by Federal lobster permit holders that only have a non-trap designation.
3 Combination of 1 & 2.

Discussion Points:
• Not necessarily looking at a complete prohibition on new entrants into the state waters of LMA1, but limit or freeze federal permit movement into LMA1. Current federal regulations allow Federal lobster permits holders to elect to fish with traps in LMA1 and allow current non-trap federal permits to elect to fish with traps in LMA1 on an annual basis. As a result, there is a possibility that LMA1 EEZ permits can increase in the northeast Gulf of Maine.
• Under the lobster ISFMP, other LMA permits have restrictions limiting entry, Area 1 is the only one not currently restricted.
• NMFS doesn’t allow the splitting of Federal limited access permits. For example, if vessel is sold with multiple permits, the limited access permits can not be split out separately, but must be transferred as a bundle to one vessel.
• NMFS doesn’t allow “stacking” of federal limited access permits. Vessels with Federal permits cannot stack or combine fishing histories or LMA trap allocations from multiple Federal lobster permits. When a buyer acquires Federal permits that include a Federal lobster permit, and the permits are transferred to a vessel that currently has a Federal lobster permit, the current lobster permit must either be transferred off of the vessel along with all other limited access permits as a bundle, or the lobster permit must be permanently forfeited.
• If a control date is a chosen to potentially restrict future access in LMA1 EEZ waters, the choice of criteria to be used, and the selection of a date or time period for qualifying is important, since data collection varied over time.. Some noted milestones in management.
o ASMFC assumed primary management of the lobster population/fishery in 1997.
o NMFS and most States started trap tag programs in 2000. Maine started a trap tag program in 1996.
o Lobster harvest or dealer reporting (e.g.VTR’s, SAFIS, individual state reporting programs) requirements for NMFS and the States vary considerably therefore landings information are inconsistent.
 NMFS –dealers and vessels required to report only if they have reporting requirements associated with their other Federal fishery permits (2000-2008).
 ME – lobster dealer reporting (2007), lobster harvest reporting (10 percent of fishery, 2008).
 NH – lobster dealer reporting (2005), partial lobster harvest reporting (1969 – 2005) complete lobster harvest reporting (2006).
 MA – lobster dealer reporting (2006), lobster harvest reporting (1968).
• Since lobster vessel and dealer data collection has varied considerably between the various regulatory jurisdictions over time, selection of the data elements that may be used as qualifying criteria must be consistent across all impacted state and Federal agencies. Under Federal regulations, measures cannot discriminate between residents of different states. So, for example, if complete lobster landings information are not collected for all impacted participants, the use of landings as a criteria to restrict future access would not meet Federal regulatory requirements.