2008 Annual Report
Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Spotlight on Community

Fisheries Technical Assistance Program

Monkfish Outreach

GMRI’s Fisheries Technical Assistance Program has extended outreach efforts to the monkfish fishery. Stakeholders involved in all facets of this fishery view the upcoming Amendment 6 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) as a potential turning point for the fishery. ¬†GMRI creates opportunities for monkfish industry stakeholders to discuss potential management changes and share key discussion points with the fishery management councils for inclusion in the formal process, ensuring participation from a broad range of industry stakeholders.

The U.S monkfish fishery spans from Maine to North Carolina and is managed as two distinct management areas. Due to its vast geographic range and stock composition, the New England Fisheries Management Council and the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council jointly manage the fishery. Currently, both Councils are considering implementing management changes through an amendment to the monkfish FMP.

GMRI recently participated in the formal Council-led scoping meetings leading into this  Amendment process, helping to provide background on the steps needed to develop and adopt a catch share system. Some stakeholders were open to this discussion, while others cited the considerable differences in fishing practices between the Northern and Southern management areas as major obstacles to implementing a new system.

GMRI also conducted a survey of monkfish permit holders through Market Decisions, a Portland-based consulting firm. This survey gathered baseline information on the monkfish industry. It also gauged the industry’s past engagement in fisheries management processes and interest in participating in informal discussion sessions that would further address concerns and ideas brought to light during the Council scoping process.

The survey revealed overwhelming support for informal GMRI led meetings. Over the next year, our Fisheries Technical Assistance Program plans to convene a series of meetings to bring together industry stakeholders, fishermen, managers, and decision makers in a neutral setting to discuss monkfish management options, alternatives, and concerns. By providing the Council with management recommendations compiled by fishermen and industry stakeholders during this series of outreach meetings, we envision cultivating a more active and informed stakeholder group and improved communications between industry and the Council.

 

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