Chairman Wise said that the idea behind a control date is generally to specify a point in time in which a license or permit of some sort will be put in place and if you do not have one by a specific date, you would be unable to receive a license. There is a proposal under development in the State Legislature that would establish a control date for State commercial striped bass and fluke harvest permits of June, 2011.
Mr. Wise said it’s very unusual for the Council to have access to a legislative proposal this early in its development. Councilor Tom Jordan opined that he didn’t believe a control date could be set retroactively, so the June 2011 date would have to be changed to something in the future. He said a control date is just a tool, setting it doesn’t really change anything. However, without a control date, some problems in fishery management are more difficult to manage. Councilor Paul Risi thought a retroactive control date was possible/legal. John Mihale agreed, saying that a control date of 2005 was set for the sea scallop fishery in 2008 or 2009. Councilor Davi questioned how this would affect transferring one of these permits? Would that option no longer be available?
Mr. Wise said you can’t look at the control date in isolation from the other things that affect these permits. The Council has recommended that the striped bass commercial harvest permit be marketable. Councilor Witek asked what was the asserted utility of a control date on these permits - what would be gained? Councilor Davi suggested that moratoria (on the issuance of new permits) can run out; with a control date you wouldn’t have to continue the moratorium. Mr. Wise said there is a body of people out there who might qualify for one of these permits who have not applied for one. A control date would forestall these people for whatever reason from jumping into the striped bass and/or fluke fisheries who thus far have not. Mr. Gilmore said that control dates keep things more practical and standardizes the rules for everyone. Councilor Jordan said that a control date would be useful in the fluke fishery because approximately 50% of the permits are and remain inactive. By having a control date it would allow them to later establish regulations where people wouldn’t jump in speculatively. He was talking about those who already have a fluke permit but don’t use it, holding on to it in the hope that it might one day become transferable (and, thus, worth something). In his view, a control date would help to prevent the latency in the fluke fishery.
Councilor Davi expressed reservations with control dates. In his view, management and the Council should focus on protecting New York’s marine fishery resource. Socio-economic issues such as regulating access/egress to a fishery are not the proper focus. Chairman Wise said that he respects Mr. Davi’s opinion. However, most of the time the Council’s discussions, in fact, deal with socio-economics. A variety of management measures are accepted by a regional fishery body (usually, ASMFC) as achieving the conservation objectives for a species. The Council ends up devoting most of its time to deciding which of these is least painful in socio-economic terms. Councilor Risi added that most of New York marine fisheries are primarily regulated by a hard harvest quota, except tautog. To follow Mr. Davi’s philosophy, we would have open access to every permit and would have to shut down every fishery in May or June. What we’re doing is protecting 1,100 people with licenses and 500 people with striped bass permits – it’s a matter of the quality of income that you want to provide to each participant. Control dates will help in that regard.
Mr. Davi reiterated his view the compartmentalizing commercial fishermen, preventing or hindering them from moving between fisheries as necessity or desire dictates, is wrong. John Mihale agreed with Councilor Davi but was concerned that we do not know who wrote this particular piece of legislation proposal and yet this will determine what the regulations will be. It was the consensus that the Council should go back to the legislators involved and give them our opinion. This will be placed on the agenda of the Council’s January 2012 meeting.