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Maine Scallop Advisory Council Meeting Minutes
January 4, 2010
at the Natural Resource Service Center,
Conference Room 106 in Hallowell

For the first ten minutes, everyone was given an opportunity to read minutes from the previous meeting & the draft Area Management Pilot Program document.

Attendance:
SAC Members: David Sinclair, Andy Mays, George Freeman, Dana Morse, Tim Harper, Junior Kelley, Barry Huckins, Doug Wood, Dana Temple, Terence Kenney, Jon Grabowski.
DMR: Togue Brawn, David Etnier, Linda Mercer, Kevin Kelly, Deirdre Gilbert
Audience: Maurice Alley, Bill Sutter, Annie Tselikis, Sheila Huckins, Wayne Glidden, Travis Fogg

Introductions were made.
David Sinclair made a motion to accept the minutes from the previous meeting, seconded by Doug Wood.
Minutes were approved unanimously.

Area Management:
Togue gave a break-down of things to consider

• Statewide closed areas opening in 2012

  • Whiting Bay/Denny’s Bay – opening 2011
    • Cobscook Bay – looking for improved management
    • Area management bill from Kevin Raye carried over to this year

Why focus on Cobscook?
Cobscook is unique because there are scallops there – this attracts people
People are concerned about mobility being limited in the future – the department supports the traditional mobility, but since everyone is drawn to one area, that area will need additional protection
Take advantage of the bill to get the authority to implement area management through rule – it will afford more time

David Etnier discussed why LD 932 is being considered now:
LD 932 – has had a public hearing. It was a concept draft – there is no specific language. The committee could do anything with it. It needs to be resolved by the end of the month, according to legislative guidelines. They have chosen to hold another public hearing, which will occur next week.

Togue presented draft language for discussion.
George Freeman – is this the DMR wish list? We need to define area management. Looks like DMR is looking for a blank check to avoid going back to the Legislature.
I talked to Rep Diane Tilton – she said this was just to hold on to something, and they are neither for nor against.
Andy – I don’t like this at all – someone is trying to use this legislation to deal with Cobscook Bay, but this is opening a can of worms and possibilities that it will be used all along the coast, there could be a surcharge to fish everywhere.
Doug – I agree 100% - area management happened within the SAC through the closure setting process. That is area management in its purest form. Otherwise it will be used to keep certain people out. I haven’t seen anything that will benefit the scallops. People set rules that will benefit themselves. The rules Cobscook has implemented haven’t benefitted the fishery. There used to be a million pounds that came out of that area – they have a high target to shoot for. We have done a lot already. We need to think about protection of small scallops, and how much we should take out of the closed areas when they open. We already have a lot of tools in place – the 4 inch rings have been great.

Togue - this is difficult, but because we don’t know exactly we want to do, we are trying to get the tools we might need.

Andy – I disagree with this approach, what else do we need immediately that we couldn’t properly vet and deal with through the Legislature if necessary? What else does Cobscook want? There is nothing concrete.

Togue – so far, our discussions have focused on the endorsement, possibly a fee for the endorsement, possibly conservation time.

SAC members asked what would happen if they didn’t support the bill:
David Etnier: the committee carried the bill over to get some more time to develop what, if anything, to do with area management. We won’t be able to figure everything out by next Monday. If they hear a lot of discord from the SAC and the Department, they will probably kill the bill. We have said that we needed to figure out the closures first, then figure out area management – our concern is how to manage the closures when they reopen.

Andy asked for clarification: won’t the closures open up unless action is taken? Yes, the rule sunsets, but our intent is to work with the SAC to figure out the necessary constraints before that happens, so that they are harvestable on a more sustainable basis.

George F: so each area will need its own area management plan?
Togue: Not necessarily different plans, but they’ll all need to be managed responsibly.
Andy – reads an email from a harvester from Washington County who fishes in Cobscook Bay. Just because people don’t live on the shores of Cobscook doesn’t make them pillaging pirates…it shouldn’t be us vs. them.
Barry – Areas of Cobscook that haven’t had scallops before have large scallops this year.
Andy – I was opposed to the shortened season, but if it makes it so that we can have better days and still have something for next year, I’m liking it. I’m seeing more sub-legal scallops than I have in a long time.

Dana T – If we don’t do area management, don’t we need to have some controls for when the areas open up?
Timmy – It won’t be a problem with the rings and the 200 lb catch limit.
Dana T – (asks if the survey information of the closed areas should be made public: the entire SAC says “NO”). If the assessment information is public – if there is a huge amount of scallops, will they last?
Andy – a 200 lb limit, a 5 day week and the rings will prevent there from being a problem.
Junior: Why don’t we drop the catch limit to 135 to match Cobscook?
Dana M – These are the seeds of what we’ll be carrying through in the future. What’s the potential for monitoring our closed areas over the next 2 years? I was under the impression that we’d be “engaging in the pain again” to identify new closed areas for when the others are opened.
Kevin – For monitoring, the current rotation of the survey will give us a good idea of what is going on. For western Maine – we surveyed this year, to western Pen Bay and allocated different tows inside and outside the closed area, so did it in 2009 and we’ll do it again in 2012, just before the reopening. Cobscook we did in 2009 and will do again in 2010. Eastern Maine – from eastern Pen Bay to Quoddy Head – we did in 2008 and will do again in 2011.
Jon – We’re hoping to complement what Kevin and DMR is doing by working with SMAST to do video work. We would also like to sample recruitment. Is there a relationship between the adults in the closed areas and subsequent recruitment? A purpose of the closed areas is to jumpstart recruitment.
David Etnier: We’ll need to do some more heavy lifting to identify new closed areas for when the current ones are reopened. Also, DMR has always said that we want to put additional constraints on the closed areas before they’re opened. Our existing regulatory authorities are (he reads the current rulemaking abilities).
Andy – could the DMR establish a lower catch limit for a specific area through rule-making?
David – yes, we can do that…but just want to remember the enforcement issues that might come up for areas that don’t have straight lines (notes that there is no enforcement presence here, they will need to be involved in whatever we devise).
Doug – There’s resource in Cobscook – so maybe the focus should be on the rest of the state – that’s where the trouble is.
Barry – Whiting and Dennys bay are less than 10% of Cobscook bay – it will get hammered when it’s reopened. Maybe if people fish in there, can only fish in there.

General discussion: the merits of leaving some areas closed, if they have permanent breeding populations – perhaps leave a portion of each closed area closed?

George: We have closed the most productive spots

Andy – motion to let LD 932 die
Doug Wood – second

Discussion:
Dana M – This opens up a can of worms – payment to access an area. Would rather know the results of the science experiment before going down this road.
George – This is just a thinly veiled attempt to get Cobscook bay the fee that they wanted.
Sheila Huckins – does the SAC have to testify? The CBFA will be there to testify?
Togue – Every year, the Cobscook Bay Fishermen’s Association asks the Department what we’re going to do to prevent their bay from being overfished. We saw this as an opportunity to be proactive. We’ve been trying to work with them, and communication has gotten better recently. I’ve been up there a couple times recently, Barry was at one of those meetings, and the conversation has focused on some sort of an endorsement. If they want to charge a fee or require conservation time for the endorsement, we would need the legislative authority to do so. We agree that something should be done to prevent that area from being decimated.
Bill Sutter– when the Cobscook bay specific regulations were enacted…they hired a lobbyist. After the meeting the CBFA figured out how much it cost…around $1500 per person. What’s to say that won’t happen again? You should have your own plan.
Maurice – Their limit is 135 lbs – why can’t we have a 135 lb limit?
David- you could, through the existing rule-making power.
Maurice – it would be less impact on the resource – there are 30-40 boats that could be rigged up in Jonesport/Beals. Right now there are about 10. Before you open a place, you should try to figure out how much could be taken.
Bill – either you can limit the number of people, or you can manage it with different poundage daily limits.
Dana M – You should be able to tell fishermen a year in advance the next round of closed areas.
Terence – When the closed areas are reopened…you could open them halfway through the season. Might limit the people who rerig.
Annie – Are people honoring the closed areas? Response from audience/SAC: Seem to be.
George – We already have the mechanisms in place to manage the fishery. I don’t support giving more authority without knowing how it will be used.
Doug – close seed areas?
David – the message to the MRC could be, we can’t think of anything else we need, we think we have the tools we need, we’ll keep working and report back.
Jon – In the testimony we should give examples of the things we can do.
Doug – show what we have done in the past couple years.
Dana T – do we want to risk what Bill brought up – that Cobscook will be bringing in their own bill?
George – I think we should include that we don’t support surcharges for each and every bay.
Bill: The SAC should look at the whole coast, the whole fishery.
Andy – This isn’t a knock on the Cobscook Bay fishermen, but they need to show that it’s about something other than keeping people out.
Togue – They’re not just trying to exclude people – they want sustainable management
Doug – What is their goal? If you want sustainable management, you need a goal.

Andy: amends his motion, “LD 932 ought not to pass”
Doug approves the amendment, seconds:
All in favor of the motion except for Dana T

Dana Temple will write draft testimony and circulate to the SAC.

George – I don’t support the concept of surcharges.
Dana M – but it generates money for research.
Doug – supports surcharges for that purpose.
Dana T – Somehow, need to acknowledge cobscook’s concerns.
David – “SAC recognizes and supports the traditionally mobile nature of the fleet and does not support exclusive areas”.
Bill – we have all heard Leo heard say, we don’t want to exclude anyone, just want to sustain the people who live there through the winter. The goal of the SAC is the same thing for the whole state.
Togue – would like a request from the SAC to the CBFA asking them to attend the SAC meetings so that we can have the same goals, or complimentary goals. Although we did not support this bill….want to work with the CBFA.
Annie – Could you hold your meeting in Machias when you are talking about the whiting/dennys bay opening.

Marketing –
Togue – feel it’s a travesty that Maine’s day boat scallops are lumped in with offshore product. Want to do something to differentiate the product. Tagline: What a difference a day makes.

We could work with dealers, take a pledge, like the dairy farmers
Dana T: Need someone like Browne trading to take smaller scallops
Right now is a perfect time, because there is a limited amount of product
Industry needs to work together
Togue: Television shows are waiting for this material.
Dana T: “certified maine scallops” only available through a limited number of dealers.
Togue: could pitch it like Nouveau Beaujolais: only available for a limited time…
Dana M – might be able to get help from Catherine Schmidt – communications director, tourism, restaurant association.

Buying groups – consumers that want to skip middle man
Annie – Stonington/deer isle doesn’t need to do a CSF model because there is a waiting list for their product. They pretty much name their price.

It’s more of a Downeast problem – in southern maine there are more high end outlets for scallops.

Clarification of new tending requirements, including current CPR first aid.

Dave Sinclair motion to adjourn
Junior second
Unanimous
5 pm.