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Maine Scallop Advisory Council Meeting Minutes
June 10, 2010
Ellsworth

Council members present: Jimmy Ackley, Barry Huckins, Terry Gray, George Freeman, Dana Morse, Arthur Alley, Doug Wood
DMR: David Etnier, Togue Brawn, Linda Mercer, Kevin Kelley, Deirdre Gilbert
Public: Sam Truesdell, Sherm Hoyt, Jimmy Wotton, Tom Pottle, Farrell Beal, Harry Shain, Scott Emery, Kendall Smith, Mike Hutchings, Travis Fogg, Dennis Sargeant, John ?, Tom??, Junior Kelley, Maurice Alley, Clifford Johnson, Senator Dennis Damon

Meeting convened at 4:05 pm
In the absence of the Chair (Dana Temple) the Council agreed they would like Togue to run the meeting. Election of a vice chair will be on the agenda for the next meeting.
Togue: large agenda today, some items will require a lot of discussion

Approval of the minutes:
Barry motion to accept, second by George
Vote: Unanimous

NGOM Survey: Presentation by Sam Truesdell
Amendment 11 created the Northern Gulf of Maine Management Area
The NGOM has a reduced possession limit and a separate TAC, but there had not been a survey done for many years.
This survey was funded through the Research Set Aside (RSA) program, and focused in on 5 areas: Machias Seal Island, Mt Desert, Platts Bank, Cape Ann, Stellwagen Bank. These areas were selected based on VTR reports, fishermen’s knowledge and information from the (ME/NH) trawl survey.
Stratified random survey

Platts Bank – a lot of really small scallops – mostly in 2 tows (6 minutes each) – a lot of seed. Mt. Desert – a little bigger. Machias Seal Island – mostly bigger, little sign of recruitment. Stellwagen and Cape Ann - different pattern – a whole range of sizes.

Shell height to meat weight (which shows the relative “health” of the scallop meat)
Stellwagen – best condition, Cape Ann next best, Mt Desert and Machias Seal Island– relatively poor. Platts Bank – really poor meat quality.

There was no specific dredge efficiency study, but the estimate is around 40%

They found the most biomass around Machias Seal Island and Platts Bank – but they didn’t put much effort into those locations
Hardly anything around Mt. Desert Rock
Stellwagen and cape ann – estimate less than the highest areas

Biomass (meat weight) – estimate 103,000 kg – range 53,000 to 186,000
2008 – about 10,000 lbs landed, 2009 – about 15,000 lbs out of a 70,000 lb TAC

2009 exploitation rate – between 0.10 and 0.15

A lot of spatial and temporal variation
Next step is to answer the question what causes the variation?

Togue – With an estimated biomass of up to 200,000 pounds, wouldn’t that suggest the TAC will be lowered?
Kevin – Biomass may be even lower - there’s much uncertainty. Also, there aren’t a lot of fishable concentrations…didn’t find too much of that.
Togue and Kevin discussed the current situation concerning the NGOM TAC: state waters landings are counted against the TAC, but were not included in the development of that TAC. There was consensus from the audience that federal permit holders from Maine were severely disadvantaged by the way in which the TAC was developed. Togue said DMR tried to prevent this from happening, but were unsuccessful. DMR will try to get this situation fixed.

Doug – You got all that seed using 4 inch rings?
Kevin/Sam: No – 2 inch rings.

Doug: Who was the captain on the survey?
Kevin: Wally.
Someone in the audience asked how the areas were selected. Kevin responded that the areas were selected in the survey design, not by the captain
General discussion of historic concentrations of scallops in NGOM. Doug – We saw the blue meats around Duck Islands, then the population collapsed

Dana Morse noted that it would be good to have the presentation posted to the DMR website

DMR updates:
Togue noted the public hearings for the urchin season would be held the following week in BB and Ellsworth. She also noted that this rule will implement mandatory harvester reporting in Zone 1. George asked why it was exclusively for Zone 1, Togue explained that the SUZC is particularly interested in getting more data on Zone 1, as they feel the resource is doing better than the survey shows. She also noted that the Department is concerned at whether or not the data provided by Zone 1 harvesters would be worth the expense, and would like feedback from harvesters.

Togue explained that changes had been made to SAC composition in order to ensure broader geographic representation. Two new people were added:
Arthur Alley – dragger from western Pen Bay.
Jimmy Ackley – dragger from Machias (fishes out of Jonesport).
Tim Harper and Junior Kelley are no longer on the Council. Togue stressed that both Tim and Junior were productive and valued members of the SAC, and that they might be in the future as well: the replacements were not reflective of performance in any way.

She outlined the agenda: today, need to set the season, discuss opening the closed areas, limited entry.
Togue noted that right now, the Whiting Bay/Dennys Bay closure is set to open up in 2011, one year ahead of all the other closures. Previously, SAC members had suggested that the opening date should be moved up to match the others. They worried that opening one closure up early, in an area where everyone knew there would be an abundance of scallops and urchins, would create a gold rush. At the time it was suggested, the Department noted that the two year closure was enacted after working with the CBFA. The Dept. would want their input prior to considering making this change. Since then, the Dept. has spoken to members of the CBFA, who supported the change.

Farrell – It would be more sensible to open all the closures at the same time, rather than one or two at a time. People won’t travel if there are local openings – it would spread the boats out more if they all open at the same time.

Scott (CBFA member and acting chair)– That’s what we figured – same idea – spread effort out and make it even for everybody.

Togue – We can conduct this change through rule. If we want to do this, we may as well do so now, while we’re making rule changes to set the season, assuming you guys support it.
Doug – it’s a good idea for the reasons mentioned, I also agree with the safety issue (to get to Whiting Bay/Dennys Bay Closure, you need to pass through the Reversing Falls).
Terry – I think it makes sense.
Barry – If you open it up first, everybody will go there. But all the boats will go there locally anyway, it’s a very small area – it will be beat to death no matter what. We should be rotating closures around the bay.
Doug – Should we have a mechanism to make sure they don’t get overfished?
Barry – all the areas should have that. People say 70 days is hurting us, but it is still too much for down home. Now people stay the whole season – it’s not working.
Doug – Postponing the opening would give another year of recruitment.
Junior and Dennis – It’s has been shut for 2.5 years already
Has there been a recent survey?
Kevin: Last October
Jimmy - It makes sense to open them all at the same time
Jimmy – I make a motion to open them all at the same time. Second – Terry Gray.
Doug – It seems odd that the CBFA changed their mind – what’s the background?
Scott – We thought two years was long enough originally, but now we think it is fairest and most sensible to open them all at the same time
Note: it’s closed to both urchins and scallops.
Doug – If it’s closed for another year, you’ll get more U10s

Brian Preney raised concern at the fact that DMR was running this meeting, asked if there’s a vice chair of the council.
Togue pointed out there is no vice chair, need to elect one at the next meeting. Also pointed out that prior to his arrival, she had explained the situation to the SAC and asked if they wanted to designate someone to run the meeting from their ranks, or have her run the meeting. They voted to have her run the meeting.

George – I thought (Whiting Bay/Dennys Bay) was closed for 2 years because they were going to rotate around the bay.
Togue: The CBFA put forth an idea for rotational closures, it was not ultimately adopted.
Doug – I’m just concerned that this is the first I have heard of this idea, and I’m worried about the impact on the public.
David – I just want to clarify, it would be part of the rule-making – there will be a public comment period and there will be public hearings.
Maurice – I have concerns where urchin harvesters are going into closed areas.
George – I would want to know what the urchin harvesters think. When we voted to support this originally, we said we’d do so, but wanted DMR to ask the SUZC what they thought.
Togue pointed out there would be a SUZC meeting the following week, although attendance looked spotty so it wasn’t definitely going to be held. She said she would let them know of the request for comment.
Vote: 5 in favor, 1 opposed (George Freeman), 1 abstaining (Barry)

Draft Plan for Reopening of Closed Areas:
A lot of fishermen have become engaged in this process as a result of the closed areas. Everyone benefits when there is good local input.
Togue explained the outline for the new means of incorporating increased input.– ad hoc advisory committees, 9 areas, rotation of the SAC meetings.

Dennis Sergeant – (noting on the draft plan the possibility of limiting who can fish in the areas): How will you limit people from fishing in these areas?
Togue: This was included because people have requested a means to do so – it is controversial, but it’s come up again and again and it’s something DMR is willing to consider.
Brian Preney – are any of these people here?
Doug – it has come up in Cobscook Bay and Stonington, and Southwest Harbor too. Seems like it is being talked about more all the time.
Kendall – Swan’s island cable area did not help seed anything in. A lot of them died. It was wiped out at nighttime.
Brian – I would like to caution the council against making any changes to the controversial closure system given the change in administration. At least 50% chance there will be a change in governor this fall. DMR people might be gone as a result.
Farrell – I’d like to caution against keeping people out of areas because what happened in the gulf could happen here too, and people might want to go elsewhere. There is a lot of seed right now – wait a few years, and there will be good scalloping the whole length of the coast.

Togue notes that as far as the future of scallop management is concerned, everyone can rest assured that the Department’s commitment will not waver. In fact, she will soon be able to devote more time to scallops.
David – yes, the Department is aware that scallop management will take more department time, ongoing. We are going to hire another person to deal with changes in groundfish management. That will take groundfish off Togue’s plate – will free her up to devote more time to scallops.

Dennis Sargent – Didn’t the state just put a 200 lb limit on? When it was good in the past, we never had that. That may be enough – maybe you should just leave things alone.
Togue - Maybe it will be enough, but the Department isn’t willing to just hope it will and keep our fingers crossed. We want something in place to ensure the areas aren’t overharvested. If, after they’re opened, evidence shows restrictions could then be changed (possibly relaxed), we can consider it. But it would be a shame to spend all this time to bring back scallops in the closed areas, and then have them all depleted quickly.

Season recommendation
Please look at the survey results –
Togue asked everyone to look over the survey results (which included comments). Results were clear: majority favors a single (no split) season with days off beginning December 15. She also gave opinions of two scallop buyers (shippers) she’d spoken to – don’t like Saturday, Sunday closures because Monday is a busy shipping day and they don’t like having to ship older scallops.
Terry Gray - those are high end markets – it’s worth protecting those markets because if you can sell to them, it makes a big difference on whether it’s worth going if the price is good.
George – I’d like to see a 4 day week, 3 days off. How about a Wednesday through Saturday week, with Sunday through Tuesday off?
Maurice – What about urchiners? They’d have Monday and Tuesday to fish for urchins still.
Jimmy Ackley – I’ve spoken to guys in Machiasport, Jonesport, Cutler – They’d like Monday through Friday, roughly the same season as last year
Farrell – The season was fine last year, one of the best ideas was sending out the survey, giving people a chance to say what they thought. Thank you Togue, if it was you.
Lots of discussion about which days should be on, which off, how many a week, etc.
Togue points out that there are questions that should be addressed separately: how many days a week; and which days should they be? They also need to confirm that they’re going ahead with the results of the survey.
Scott – You should start December 1, and get the extra dollar a pound (last year when the Canadian fishery opened, the price dropped a dollar).
Doug – Getting more time before Christmas would get you more money.
Discussion of gear conflict, some suggested it was just to the West.
Junior – There would be gear conflict in our area too on December 1
Doug – They aren’t tending that gear, so there’s going to be a conflict no matter when you start.

Togue reminds them of the need to determine whether or not they’re going with what was recommended by the survey

Jimmy – asks if the rule still has to go to public hearing
Togue – explains the process. Yes, this recommendation will go to the Department,
Doug – I wonder if fishermen realize the difference in price between December 1 and December 15.
Maurice – Fishermen want the 15th
Clifford Johnson – I’m not sure there is more money if you go earlier. I’d like to see a split season, more days off earlier, fewer days off later.
Tom – last season, we got $6 to start, then $5 when the Canadians opened up

Brian Soper– I’m the first to admit I don’t like the survey results. I wanted a split season – but I like that you put the survey out. I’m on the urchin council, and if I were presented with a survey that showed the majority of industry wanted something, I’d have to go with it. As much as I hate what the survey says, I would still go by the survey.

More discussion, agreement by the crowd.
Doug – I make a motion to accept the survey results
Jimmy – seconded
Vote – 6 in favor, 1 opposed (Doug)

Togue: OK, now, which days do you want to take off?
George – take 3 days out to lengthen the season.
Arthur – but the gear conflict problem gets worse in the spring
Barry – the problem is, the lobster industry is pushing us around

Dennis (Sargent?)– the state is the one that initiated the law changing the season to December 1.
Doug – I would like to see weekends off.
George – Sunday, Monday, Tuesday off

Brian Soper – A 4 day week is better for divers. You can’t dive the whole week straight. Plus, I’d like to be fishing in April.
Dennis – 5 day week, take Saturday and Sunday off
George – Taking the entire weekend off impacts people unfairly.
Jimmy – I make a motion for a five day week, seconded by Terry.
George – I would rather see a four day week
Doug – I can live with a four day week
Jimmy – A lot of people want a five day week with Saturday and Sunday off
Dana – Did you track prices over the past few years?
Could get that, but it would differ along the coast

Vote: 5 in support
1 opposed (George)
1 abstained (Dana)

Doug makes a motion for Saturday and Sunday off, seconded by Jimmy.

George – too exclusionary to leave out both weekend days. What happened to not allowing this?
Togue: The Department is going to be silent on which days are taken off – it’s up to the SAC to make their recommendation.
Brian Soper – I support weekends off.
Terry – I would like to have one day on the weekend, to be able to take my son
Arthur – Monday is the best market day
Terry – Markets won’t buy on Fridays, so if we fish on Friday you have no choice but to peddle. I would like to see Fridays off.
Mike – I like weekends off.

Vote:
In support – 4
Opposed – 2
Abstained – 1

Someone points out that they still need to address holidays.
Jimmy – I make a motion to make same days off as last year – December 24 and 25, and January 1. Togue clarifies: because of the days of the week, the only “additional” day off would be Friday, December 24.
Barry – seconded.
Vote – unanimous (7)

Limited Entry
Togue describes the timeline: Limited entry is set to sunset in May of 2012. We have the authority to enact an entry system through rule (and have been directed to do so). Sunset in legislation needs to be repealed, otherwise the licenses open back up in May of 2012.
So we need to go ahead to design the entry system. Limited entry system will be adopted in rule, beginning this fall. We have questions to address: do we want to have a few fishermen making a lot of money or a lot of fishermen making some money?
David: The Department views this fishery as a supplemental fishery, so that commercial fishermen can engage in a variety of fisheries.
We have various options: we could flat line the participation at a 1 to 1 ratio, or establish a ratio that will decrease it slightly
Want to have an allowable number of at least what it has been for the past couple of years.
Brian Preney– extending the sunset for one year may make sense, but otherwise wait for the new administration
Mike – We need to get some input from the industry – use the area meetings
Brian S – With a possible change in administration, don’t want to give it up to the legislature. Republican candidate has said publicly will get a new commissioner
Jimmy – in the urchin fishery, you let in people for a little while, but then there was a complete freeze – is that what you are talking about
David – we are proposing some way to allow entry of new participants – not additional – just new. You could keep the number of licenses the same or you could set something up so that it would decrease.
Audience: Would a dragger out mean a dragger in, or a slot for either gear type? Up for discussion.
Arthur – Would want people who used to hold a license to get preferential treatment?
Brian Soper – the reason we stopped entry in the urchin fishery is because we only have 10 days.
Doug – We should eliminate the sunset clause. Bring licenses to a lower level, and then when they are at that lower level, allow transfer of licenses.

David – The state has not allowed transfer of licenses.
Why not?
Because the people of the state of Maine own the resource, we have opposed allowing the licenses to take on value. In other fisheries, that is what has occurred.
Doug: we’ve done lots of new things in this fishery that haven’t been done in others.
Brian Soper – The legislature made a way for limited entry to be established (through rule)?
Yes.
Brian Preney – There’s no responsible way to open up the closed areas in a short time. In urchin fishery, it was the new entrants that ruined the fishing. You can’t just let people come in without some background, or with a conservation time requirement. You should get more time from the legislature.
David – It makes sense to have apprentice program in the lobster fishery, whether it makes sense in this fishery is also something that should be discussed – everything is on the table.
Togue – We won’t come to a conclusion today, but wanted you to know we need to think about it.

Brian S – Can this wait until the second session?
David explains the timeline – even if we were able to introduce it as emergency legislation, timeline doesn’t allow it. Legislation wouldn’t go into effect until July 2012, limited entry sunsets in May 2012, there would be two months when anyone who wants to could get a commercial scallop license.

Brian Preney – you have no data on the closures, so you should just ask for another year.
Jimmy – Do we know how many are actively fishing?
Togue: We have that information from the landings program.
Jimmy: Some people are not getting their logbooks.
Togue: We can provide you information regarding the range of landings. Let me know what else you need in terms of information in order to have this conversation.

Continued discussion of continued reopening of areas
Togue asks everyone to look at page 2 of the handout. Are there things that need to be on this list that aren’t? Please e-mail me if you think of things that should be added.

Diseased Scallops:
Dana passes around a handout of pictures of diseased scallops. Gotten reports of funky looking scallops from fishermen. Some causes are known, some are unknown.
Top right – examples of shell blisters
Bottom right – infected scallop with pussy spots in the meat – marine bacterium isolated by Deb Bouchard at UMaine
Left side – South Bay in Cobscook – ugly
You see scallops every day – some things you see may be known, some may not – some may have implications for enhancement – what if you are moving infected scallops to clean areas?
It would be nice if there was a mechanism for a fisherman to hold a weird, live scallop long enough to bring it to someone that could make a determination about what it is.
A brochure to get to industry some information about the state of what we know.
How to work with the industry so that you know how to care for the sample?

David explained how DMR dealt with the similar issue of shell disease in the lobster fishery.
Togue and Dana will talk and determine what needs to be done to move this forward.

Designation of next meeting:
Togue – under the policy of moving the meetings around, the next meeting would be in Wiscasset
George – Why not Hallowell?

Barry – I make a motion we hold the next meeting in Hallowell, Terry seconded
Unanimous

Date –
Doug – Wednesday July 21st
Arthur – seconded
Unanimous
4:00 pm start time.

David – need to address bylaws at next meeting and elect a vice-chair.

Doug – motion to adjourn
Dana – seconded
Unanimous
Adjourned at 6:55 pm.