Today is the third and final day of the Maine Fishermen’s forum, and, in many ways, it’s the day to which I an looking most forward with several excellent seminars scheduled. Before I layout my plans for today (be sure to follow me on Twitter to get updates and observations throughout the day), I want to briefly recap yesterday.
Yesterday was primarily about Gulf of Maine fisheries management for me, especially management of the groundfish fishery. It began with a seminar on groundfish management presented by Jamie Cournane and Rachel Feeney of the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC). The bulk of the presentation was dedicated to Feeney’s in-depth overview of Amendment 18’s many alternatives. The timeline toward implementation on this Amendment to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan is at a critical juncture, and it will be important for all stakeholders to understand and comment on the proposed alternatives. Stay tuned for more from me on the alternatives.
Unfortunately, understanding, commenting on and ultimately implementing Amendment 18 is all the more challenging given all the uncertainties in the fishery–especially the iconic Gulf of Maine cod fishery. This uncertainty was a theme of an afternoon session called “Perspectives on Gulf of Maine Cod,” where Tom Nies (New England Fishery Management Council), Mike Palmer (Northeast Fisheries Science Center), Steve Cadrin (UMass School for Marine Science and Technology), and Vito Giacalone (Gloucester Fishing Community Preservation Fund) presented. Terry Alexander (F/V Jocka and NEFMC) was also on hand. Maggie Raymond (Associated Fisheries of Maine) moderated. I’m going to cover this seminar in a more detailed post, but the gist was a progression from Nies showing fisheries managers got it wrong with cod (but not for lack of trying) to Cadrin and Giacalone calling into question much of the public perception surrounding the plight of cod. In the middle, Palmer presented some pretty dismal data on GOM cod stocks based on the Center’s most recent assessment. For a preview of my upcoming article on the seminar, check out some of the quotations I tweeted live yesterday.
In addition to the two seminars summarized above, I also attended the NEFMC Public Hearing to scope for Amendment 8 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan. Lori Steele (NEFMC) gave a brief presentation on why NEFMC is seeking to establish a long term control rule for specifying acceptable biological catch (ABC) for the Atlantic Herring fishery, and the presentation was to be followed by public comment. An underwhelming desire to comment from the public brought the session to a premature end.
Finally, I attended a National Marine Fisheries Service Q&A, which was interesting but somewhat disappointing given that neither John Bullard, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Regional Administrator, nor Samuel Rauch, NMFS Deputy Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, were able to attend. Nonetheless, William Karp of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and Mike Pentony, NMFS Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries, did a good job of fielding questions, although the Q&A did devolve into a discussion largely about at sea observers and the impending crisis I tweeted about on the first day of the Forum. More to come on that.
Today I am looking forward to “Are Groundfish Showing Signs of Recovery in Eastern Maine?” (although I’m tempted by “Forecasts, Tools and Research to Support Fisheries in Adapting to a Rapidly Changing Gulf of Maine,” which is scheduled at the same time), “Electronic Monitoring – Implementation in New England and Nationwide; What it Means for Gulf of Maine Fisheries,” and “From Away: How to Compete in the Import-Dominated U.S. Seafood Market and Achieve Greater Value for Gulf of Maine Seafood” (although I’m again tempted by the public hearing on Amendment 3 to the Northern Shrimp Fishery Management Plan, which is scheduled at the same time), and finally “Aquaculture for Fishermen,” (although I’m sorely tempted by the concurrent seminar titled “Fishermen’s Knowledge and Oral Histories in Maine.”) It should be a great day.