RI DEM 2013 Management Plan for the Shellfish Fishery Sector & How it Differs from the RISMP

There has been some discussion after the March 20 SMP meeting around the RI DEM 2013 Management Plan for the Shellfish Fishery Sector. The sentiment was, “This looks like an SMP – is it? If so, why are we here today?”

In case others are wondering, here are some answers.

The DEM 2013 Management Plan for the Shellfish Fishery Sector is done on an annual basis and is narrowly focused on supporting commercial licensing as required by state law. DEM looks at fishery and stock performance as best they can to make recommendations on issuance of licenses and endorsements. Our SMP effort is much bigger and broader. DEM plans have been focused on supporting commercial licensing (and, accordingly, have been updated annually at the same time as commercial licensing regulations are updated). However, these have been expanded over the years to be a bit broader and to include issues beyond those directly associated with licensing. The latest updated plan includes information on shellfish, beyond that relating to licensing only.  However, the plans – there’s one for finfish, one for crustaceans, and one for shellfish — only focus on commercial (wild harvest) fishing, and therefore can’t be considered as appropriate substitutes or proxies for the type of broad focus envisioned for the SMP. The DEM 2013 Shellfish Fishery Sector Plan can be incorporated into the reference materials and discussions associated with the SMP, and consider potential ways in which the plan can/should be modified to address relevant issues.

The DEM plan emanates from Chapter 20-2.1 governing Commercial Fishing Licenses which was enacted in 2002. This states:

§ 20-2.1-9 Powers and duties of the director. – It shall be the duty of the director to adopt, implement effective January 1, 2003, and maintain a commercial fisheries licensing system that shall incorporate and be consistent with the purposes of this chapter; in performance of this duty the director shall follow the guidelines and procedures set forth below: (5) The director shall by rule, with the advice of the marine fisheries council, develop conservation and management plans for the fishery resources of the state, which conservation and management plans shall be adopted prior to and at the same time as adoption of any license restrictions on effort or catch. In the development of the fishery conservation and management plans, priority shall be given to those resources with the highest value to the state, either for commercial or recreational purposes.”

DEM then carries that statutory requirement into their commercial fishing licensing regulations per the following regulatory provisions:

(6.2) Management Plans

(6.2-1) Required – The management controls set forth in section 6.1 must be based on fishery management plans that have been adopted by the Department or by a federal agency or regional body of competent jurisdiction. Such plans may be species – or fisheries-specific or apply to whole endorsement categories.

(6.2-2) Purpose and Content – (a) The central objectives of all fishery management plans shall be (i) to prevent overfishing, while achieving on a continuous basis the maximum sustainable yield from each fishery; and (ii) to restore overfished or depleted stocks to sustainable levels. (b) Management plans shall be responsive to, and reflective of, changing stock and fishery conditions, and thereby support an adaptive management process. (c) Management plans shall seek to achieve the objectives set forth in subsection (a) above by establishing management measures that may include a mix of input and output controls, such as limitations or restrictions on effort, gear, catch, areas, times, and/or seasons. (d) Management plans shall specifically address, and make annual determinations on, the number and availability of licenses and endorsements, and the harvest and gear levels associated therewith. Such determinations shall be made in accordance with the objectives set forth in subsection (a) above, and with due regard to: (i) the social and economic well-being of fishers and fishing-dependent communities, particularly the interests of licensed residents who wish to continue fishing commercially in a manner that is economically viable; and (ii) the interests of residents who wish to fish commercially. (e) In considering the economic and social impacts of licensing and other management measures on fishers and fishing-dependent communities, as well as on the general public, management plans shall to the maximum extent feasible employ methodologies that are consistent with those employed by the National Marine Fisheries Service. (f) Management plans shall be based on the best scientific information available. (g) Management plans shall consider the effectiveness of management measures in reducing by-catch, by-catch mortality, and discards. (h) Management plans shall complement federal and regional management plans and programs and the reciprocal arrangements with other states. (i) Management plans shall be consistent with the national standards for fishery conservation and management set forth in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 USC, section 1851) and further delineated in RIGL §20-2.1-9(2)(iv). (j) Management plans may take into consideration other factors that the Director deems appropriate.

(6.2-3) Procedure for Adopting – (a) Management plans shall be adopted by rule consistent with the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act and as herein described on an annual basis no later than December 1 for the following year, provided that said plans may continue in effect for longer periods if it is determined that management conditions permit or may be adjusted more frequently if it is determined that management conditions require. (b) Plans shall be submitted to the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council [RIMFC] for review and advice at least sixty (60) days prior to any Department hearing on said plans. (c) RIMFC may recommend to the Director that a proposed plan be adopted, modified or withdrawn, and the Director may proceed to hearing on the plan as originally proposed or as revised by RIMFC, or both, provided that in all instances both the plan as originally proposed and as recommended by RIMFC shall be entered into the hearing record. (d) In adopting a proposed plan, the Director shall include a concise explanation of the principal reasons for its adoption and his or her response to positions entered into the hearing record.

Hope this helps to clarify.

If you have any questions, feel free to let us know in the comments section!