Maine Scallop Advisory Council Meeting Minutes
April 14, 2010
at the Natural Resource Service Center,
Conference Room 106 in Hallowell
Council members present: Tim Harper, Doug Wood, Dana Temple, Terence Kenney, Junior Kelley, Dave Sinclair, Andy Mays, Annie Tselikis, Terry Gray, Dana Morse, George Freeman
Council members not present: John Grabowski, Barry Huckins
DMR staff: Togue Brawn, Kevin Kelly, David Etnier, Deirdre Gilbert
Public: Jim Wotton, Maurice Alley, Mike Hutchings, Sherm Hoyt, Brian Preney, Brian Soper, Arthur Alley, Travis Fogg
Council convened at 3:10 pm
Approval of minutes: Tim Harper made a motion to approve, Andy Mays seconded.
Togue: at the Ellsworth meeting, people asked about the possibility of establishing a call-in system. Department did some research, and after receiving a proposal and discussing the various possible systems within the Department (science, enforcement, policy), realized the cost and complexity make this impossible at this time. DMR cannot support a call-in system for scallop or urchins at this time.
Urchin season – the draft season (calendars) were provided, it was noted that rule-making will begin in May. Also, mandatory Zone 1 harvester reporting is under discussion, may be included with the rulemaking.
Halibut rules passed – the season for this year will remain the same – next year will be one 2 month season. Tags have decreased from 50 to 25, and minimum size has increased.
Changes to the Council composition will likely be forthcoming to achieve better geographic representation. Togue noted that if people are removed, they should not think it has anything to do with their performance: we just need to correct the fact that we currently do not have any draggers between Harpswell and Jonesport.
Season is the major topic for today – we have to go to rulemaking to establish the 2010-2011 season. Other ideas could come forward at the same time
Togue reported that Scott Emery called her earlier (he couldn’t be here). His input is that people in his area prefer a December 1 start date.
Col Fessenden reported on a safety meeting (with the Coast Guard) held in Lubec, April 13th: Good turnout.
Brought forward some safety ideas – importance of towing low instead of towing high
Urchin draggers supported having a requirement to tow low in that area (the falls).
Elliott Thomas (chair of CFSC) Janine Drouin, (CFSC member) and Kevin Plowman, (USCG) were there.
Little support for requirement to wear PFDs at all times.
Little support for closing the area
It was noted that the individuals who really needed to hear this discussion were not present – most who attended had good boats and were fishing safely.
Little support for a buddy system (requiring fishing together)
Little support for mandatory EPIRB due to cost
Towing low had the most interest and the information supports that this would be beneficial in the area. 4 boats were lost there in the past year.
Sea Grant has offered free drill instructor training program for ~30 fishermen in that area
Annie – What about the work that NOAA did with sidescan sonar?
Jessie Logan, Collins staff said that Collins’ and Snowe’s offices have asked NOAA to do a new survey of the whole area – it has not been done since the 1860s
Colonel Fessenden said that the fishermen present did not support the claim that DMR regulations had a role in these deaths
Doug Wood said that anyone who would blame the regulations would not be much of a captain. If people put making money ahead of safety, they should not be at the wheel.
David Etnier gave an update–
Budget included a 10% reduction in mileage for patrol trucks this biennium
The consolidation of natural resource agencies did not go anywhere.
A lot of cuts and funding shifts related to DMR. Since the late 1980’s DMR has had to move away from the General Fund as a source of funding and has been moving toward federal money (grants such as Joint Enforcement Agreements) and to dedicated revenues from surcharges (such as trap tags, research surcharges, etc).
As part of the shift, we’ve moved a portion of Togue’s position onto the Scallop Fund.
We have been doing this, but it’s not a good trend. A lot of the funds are declining, but we have had no options.
Legislative update: Little legislation impacting scallop or urchin harvesting.
New law - dealers can only buy from licensed harvesters.
There was discussion of whether or not this is a good thing: how to ensure harvesters are licensed (have valid licenses)
David: We will work with dealers to implement – perhaps make information available on the DMR website of licensed harvesters, or suspended licenses
DMR will put the word out to dealers – go through an educational period
Saltwater recreational fishing registry will be in effect January 2011
Decision was made to keep the moneys in Maine, rather than the federal government
Currently must register with feds, in 2011 you will need to register with the State of Maine. David explained the structure of the new registry
There will be major changes to the composition of the MRC next year, because Senator Damon and Rep Percy are termed out and will not be back in the Legislature
The Department is recommending a 70 day season
Togue compared dealer data from 2008 and 2009 and harvester data – seemed roughly comparable (suggesting accurate reporting).
George Freeman – asked for clarification regarding the DMR’s expectation of how many days will actually get fished.
Togue confirmed that the Department has never expected each and every day of a fishing season to be fished. The Department recognizes that weather and other factors will naturally prevent most people from fishing all days of a season. We take this into account when we set the season.
Doug Wood – the guys he has been talking to would like to go to December 1. Otherwise, miss the best price because of the Canadian opening
Terrence – at home, people would like to see open December 15, to give more opportunity to get traps out of the water
Arthur Alley – would like to start December 1, but opt for days in the spring when the days are longer and weather is warmer. Also stops small stuff from getting onboard in the colder weather.
Brian Soper – the five day/week season is an increase in effort because they fished harder. Worked all the days he was here. He liked the split season – who wants to work in February?
Maurice – liked 5 days.
Doug – liked 5 days, but wants Monday through Friday
Mike Hutchings - 7 days a week allows people to pick their days, pay more attention to the weather.
Brian Soper – for divers, it’s hard to work 7 days a week – with a 7 day week you can pick your days off. I like the earlier season, shutdown and another 35.
Brian Preney – I cleaned out the “postage stamp” early in the season, then cleaned it out again at the end of the season. So advocating for a small break to let the scallops come back in.
Andy Mays – I am remembering how much people hated the split season.
George – to spread it out further, go 4 days a week, that will continue the season into warmer weather.
Doug – if money is an issue, you want to get as many days before Christmas as possible. There was a $1 difference this past year.
Annie – for Port Clyde Fresh Catch, having Mondays off messed up their markets. Also,
People are afraid if there is a split season, it risks closing the second part of the season.
Maurice – a December can be as miserable as a February – like 2 years ago. Bills don’t stop in the middle of the season. At least this way, you are making something every week.
Togue – because people have completely conflicting thoughts – should we send out a survey? A few simple questions for all license holders.
Dana – Personally, I think we should come up with 3 scenarios, and put those out to vote.
Annie – Is this season just for 2010?
Togue - Yes – sunsets every year.
George – what kind of return do we get on surveys? I don’t think you will get a good response.
Mike – what do you have to lose? This will give you better information. From all over the state. Don’t always use Cobscook bay as a reference –
Tim makes a motion to conduct a survey, Annie seconds.
Dana M– let’s discuss the specifics
Do you prefer a continuous season or split?
Brian: Last year season’s or the season before?
What about 7 days, break, 7 days?
Continuous season 5 days a week.
Andy – We could come up with endless scenarios
(Dana Morse and Annie help out at the flip chart):
Postcard should read:
Do you prefer a single continuous season or a split season?
When the season is open, do you prefer 7 days/week or days off during each week?
Do you prefer Dec 1 or Dec 15 as a start date?
Vote to send a survey: Unanimous
Andy motion, Dave second to send as written
Statewide management issues:
Togue: Meat count – does the council want to pursue this?
General discussion: Smallest meats in the state are in Cobscook – no, Libby Island
Kevin – Libby island is 40-50 count scallop with a legal shell size
A lot of variation in the state, can vary by time of year and by year. In Cobscook dropped by 18% between years.
Dana Temple – is it a situation where in certain areas they are never going to get bigger?
Kevin - Certain areas seem to produce scallops of a certain size. Number of factors – food availability, depth. We know there is variation, for whatever reason…I don’t see how we could do this. We will end up with something so liberal, it will encourage people to cut smaller stuff.
Togue – I want to bring forward that Marine Patrol is very much is in support of a meat count. They’ve stated publicly it’s the only way to stop the shucking of small scallops.
Mike – It didn’t work for the feds
Togue – They enforced it differently.
Brian Soper –Why we are taking about meat counts? Meat size has very little to do with shell size.
Brian Preney – I’m an open boat diver. Is an MPO going to try to take a sample out of my bucket and measure it?
Brian Soper – I don’t want you in my bucket.
Doug – This isn’t an issue west of Petit Manan
Dana M– If the goal is protect juveniles, we are doing better with that with the rings, and the closed areas. Why fight this battle?
Dana T – do you think it’s an issue for your industry?
Doug – an alternative is a law to protect seed areas.
What has it done for cobscook? It’s important during years when there are a lot of sublegals. Marine Patrol has loved it.
Tim Harper: Motion to set this aside until next year.
Junior Kelley: second
Reduced daily limits
Andy – It was unanimous in Ellsworth that everyone wanted to go to 135.
Togue – The arguments were, the season would last longer, and people wouldn’t travel as much
Mike – But I use a lot of fuel to get where I need to go…fuel will be more expensive in the future. It is a mobile gear fishery.
Junior – This was also supposed to help protect the closed areas when they open
Dana – The limit could be evaluated regularly
Brian Soper – This is putting the cart before the horse….you will be talking about this when you are talking about how to open up closed areas. Need to figure out how you are going to protect those areas from overharvesting.
Jimmy – I like to trip fish for a couple of days, so I don’t support a lower limit (wants to be able to get his limit for two days running without having to land).
Doug – The wardens have worked with people in the past, had them mark the buckets.
George – Is the reason we are addressing this now is because of the existing rule-making? Togue: Yes, in case people were prepared to move forward. We have the opportunity now, so I figured we might as well discuss it.
David Etnier – Would the council be interested in exploring the option of emergency closures of areas that are identified in the middle of the season, through local knowledge, that they are fished out and only small stuff is coming up?
Annie – What would be the rationale?
David – Unusual damage to the resource.
Andy – The Skillings river – there were 10 draggers in there this year. It can’t support that level of effort. There are certain places that can’t sustain harvest. Upper reaches of Blue Hill Bay. That was done 3 weeks before the season was over.
David – I just want you to think about it, make you aware of the option.
Mike – Every time you start drawing lines you keep carving it up, it forces effort elsewhere. There is no easy answer. Each new rule creates other problems.
Togue – but status quo wasn’t very good either.
Togue – There are handouts in the back of the room about Isle of Man, and sea-ranching in Brittany. Could try to learn more from these folks by having them come here, or having them on speaker phone. Isle of Man fishermen went and visited Brittany.
Sherm – To get more local input, I talked to fishermen in Muscongus Bay about having a smaller meeting to talk about all the same things you talked about today. Sea grant sponsored and facilitated to provide information to DMR and to the scallop advisory council. I’ll be holding another one.
Dana – Any meetings can occur, but we would really like to have the vehicle be the scallop advisory council. Personally, I have concerns that the council did not support area management because the guidelines didn’t exist, and they still don’t.
Sherm – I totally agree regarding the need to participate more at the next SAC. The idea is not to replace, but to supplement and add information. A huge number of fishermen in our area feel like they are left out of the process, but agree that they don’t participate.
Our attempt is to increase participation. We won’t tell them that their model or plan will be accepted.
Dana M – I don’t discount the rationale for wanting people to come to this meeting.
But we have a set agenda here (SAC). Local meetings can be very valuable. Easy for people to get to, have more flexibility. Keeps local people in the know, it might get you more engaged, and make you more inclined to come to the SAC.
Annie – I echo what Dana had said. We were holding meetings in Stonington, and bringing information to the SAC.
Doug – I commend you for giving this to us. Unlike other organizations, you are inviting us to come and listen – we need more ideas.
Brian Preney– I believe that non-profits have agendas.
David Etnier– We could also help by holding SAC meetings in 3 different regions over the course of the year.
Togue: I’ve discussed the idea of having an upcoming SAC meeting in the Cobscook Area, or at least further Downeast.
Sherm – I hear the comments, and will make sure it’s a non-agenda meeting to gather information for the DMR and SAC. We won’t let people think that this is to make decisions.
Mike – the more info a committee can gather, the better off you are.
Next meeting date:
May 26th – Ellsworth or Machias? Ellsworth
NOTE: MEETING WAS SUBSEQUENTLY CHANGED TO JUNE 10 IN ELLSWORTH DUE TO LACK OF ROOM AVAILABILITY.
Togue and Andy: Issue of recreational guys going with commercial divers and exceeding the limit. Togue said she’d look into changing the language with the upcoming rulemaking.
Andy brought some scallops that was in a bag that had been out for 5 months - about 3000 scallops in the bag. He showed them to everyone.
Tim to adjourn
Adjourned at 5:45 pm.