FISH TRAP REDUCTION STEERING COMMITTEEST. CROIX DISTRICT
VOTING MEMBERSTHOMAS DALEY- ChairmanGERSON MARTINEZ –Vice chairWAYNE HARVEYHOMER KELLYFRANK JOHNSONSTACHEL PARKERNORRIS BENJAMIN
NON-VOTINGTONY IAROCCIEDWARD SCHUSTERCARLOS FARCHETTEROY PEMBERTON --(DIRECTOR – DFW)
COORDINATOROBSERVERSJONATHAN BROWN – DPNR/DFWDept. of Planning and Natural Resources HEATHER BLOUGH - NOAA/SERODivision of Fish and Wildlife DR. WILLIAM ARNOLD –NOAA/SERO
This final draft Fish Trap Reduction Program proposal, developed by the STX Trap Reduction Steering Committee, addresses the STX fish trap fishery only. The STX lobster trap fishery will be addressed in a separate proposalOn March 16, 2011, DPNR announced that anyone entering the USVI fish or lobster trap fisheries after February 10, 2011, is not assured future access to the fishery. That control date serves as the basis for the eligibility and initial allocation criteria in this proposalThis proposal represents the STX Steering Committee’s view of a sustainable management program for the STX fish trap fishery. It is a proposal only, developed in response to the Council’s charge, and would require rulemaking or, potentially, legislative action before taking effectIf approved and implemented, this proposed Fish Trap Reduction Program would be reviewed by the STX Steering Committee in coordination with DPNR at least once every five years relative to program, territorial and federal management goals and objectives
Program Goals and ObjectivesPreserve and protect the historical and cultural STX fish trap fishery in a sustainable manner by:Limiting participation in the fisheryCapping the maximum number of allowable traps/fisherReducing the total number of traps in the fishery by 10% relative to the sum total of the maximum number of traps recorded by each individual fisher in association with STX landings between February 10, 2008 and February 10, 2011, (Control Date)
EligibilityCriterion:Who Can Participate In The Program?All fishers who held a valid USVI commercial fishing license and recorded STX landings on commercial catch records with fish trap gear between February 10, 2008 and February 10, 2011 would be eligible to participate in the program.Any fisher who feels excluded or has questions about participation in the program will have an opportunity to present their case to an Appeals Board.
Administration:How Will Participants Be Identified and Managed?Eligible participants would be identified by a STX fish trap endorsement to their USVI commercial fishing licenseOnly fishers with a STX fish trap endorsement would be authorized to utilize fish traps on the STX shelf and/or to land in STX fish that have been harvested with trap gear within the St. Croix Territorial WatersEach fisher with a STX fish trap endorsement would be authorized to set a specific number of fish traps on the STX shelf based on their past 3 years of participation in the fisheryEstimated Effect: How Many Fishermen Will Qualify?Based on DPNR commercial catch record data, 38 fishers would meet this eligibility criterion
Initial Allocation/Effort Reduction StrategyCriterion: How Will DPNR Allocate Fish Trap Tags Among Program Participants?The number of fish trap tags allocated each program participant would be equal to 10% less than the maximum number of traps they recorded on commercial catch reports between February 10, 2008 and February 10, 2011.
Administration: How Will Fish Trap Tags Be Issued And Managed?DPNR would administer the fish trap tag programTags would be sequentially numberedTags would be composed of a durable material so that they are not easily destroyedTags would be color-coded so they are distinguishable from STT/STJ tagsThe maximum number of trap tags that any qualifying licensed trap fisherman could receive as an initial allocation is 150 traps.
Estimated Effect: How Many Fish Traps Will Be Authorized In The Fishery?This allocation/effort reduction strategy would result in 527 registered traps in the STX fish trap fishery. This represents:A 14% increase in fish traps relative to the sum of the maximum number of fish traps recorded by each individual on DPNR commercial catch records during the 2010-11 fishing year (463).A 2% decrease in fish traps relative to the maximum number of traps fished annually, on average, over the last three years (537).
A 17% decrease in fish traps relative to the maximum number of traps fished annually, on average, over the last five years (635)A 42% decrease in fish traps relative to the total number of traps currently reported in the fishery through the STX fisher survey (908)An 87% decrease in fish traps relative to the total number of traps estimated in the fishery prior to Hurricane Hugo (4,000)
Criterion: Who May Buy Into The STX Fish Trap Program?STX fish trap endorsements and tags would be transferable to immediate family members, helpers and anyone who holds a USVI commercial fishing license.Any person/corporation holding a USVI commercial fishing license would be eligible to purchase the STX fish trap endorsement and/or tags of a trap program participant.Trap program participants could transfer their STX fish trap endorsement, tags and license as a package to an immediate family member or to a helper.Trap program participants could transfer tags among themselves without the transfer of a USVI commercial fishing license or STX fish trap endorsement
Administration: How Will Transfers Be Managed?DPNR would validate and process all transfersAll fish trap endorsements and tags would be specific to the STX district and would not be valid on STT/STJ districtThe maximum number of trap tags that any person or corporation could hold at any given time is 150Estimated Effect: How Will This Transfer Provision Affect Fishery Participation?This transferability provision would support the participation of local fishermen in the fish trap fishery over the long term.
AppealsCriterion: What Would Be Considered Valid Reasons To Enter The STX Fish Trap Fishery Through The Appeals Process?Data discrepancies (i.e., fisher can provide copies of USVI commercial catch records documenting he/she meets the eligibility criteria in this proposal)Investment in the fishery (i.e., fisher can demonstrate substantial investment in the fishery prior to the February 10, 2011 control date but does not have recorded landings between February 10, 2008 and February 10, 2011)
Appeals Cont.Administration: How Will The Appeals Process Work?An Appeals Board would be established to include STX Fish Trap Reduction Steering Committee members, the Director of DPNR’s Fish and Wildlife Division or designee and a DPNR’s legal council.All appeals would be heard/considered separately during a specified time period before initial allocations are made under the trap reduction program. That time period would be announced in local papers.
Appeals Cont.Appellants would be required to submit all documentation they wish to be considered in their appeal in advance of the date on which their appeal will be heard, and, must also appear in person before the Appeals BoardThe Appeals Board would review each case privately and issue their findings that same dayAll Appeals Board decisions would be final.
EnforcementOnly fishers with a STX fish trap endorsement would be authorized to utilize fish traps on the STX shelf and/or to land in STX fish that have been harvested with trap gear on the STX shelfAll fish traps set on the STX shelf must be identified by a uniquely numbered STX fish trap tag issued under this programAll lost or stolen fish traps must be reported to DPNR through submission of a Lost or Stolen Fish Trap Report which details:The specific location each trap was placed and lost or stolenThe date the loss or theft was discoveredHow the fisher discovered the trap(s) was lost or stolen
Enforcement Cont.The specific number(s) of the lost trap(s); andAll steps taken to locate the lost or stolen trap(s)Replacement tags may be requested from DPNR through submission of a Fish Trap Tag Replacement Applicationonwhich the applicant certifies under penalty ofperjuryThefish trap tag number(s) listed on the application were issued to the applicant for the current year, were secured to the applicant’s traps, and were lost, stolen ormutilatedThe applicant filed the required “Lost or Stolen Fish Trap Report” with DPNR (a copy of the lost or stolen report must be attached to the application)
Enforcement Cont.The specific number(s) of the lost trap(s); andAll steps taken to locate the lost or stolen trap(s)The fish trap tag number(s) listed on the application were issued to the applicant for the current year, were secured to the applicant’s traps, and were lost, stolen or mutilatedThe applicant filed the required “Lost or Stolen Fish Trap Report” with DPNR (a copy of the lost or stolen report must be attached to the application)If the original tag(s) is ever found or recovered, the applicant will immediately return it to DPNR
ReviewDPNR and the STX Steering Committee would review this program after the first three (3) years and thereafter review every five years relative to program objectives, territorial fishery conservation management goals, and, (as appropriate) Federal fishery conservation and management goals.PenaltiesAny person who knowingly takes or attempt to take, with the aid or use of any vessel, any fish pot/trap belonging to another unless otherwise provided by law, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction, be subject to a fine not to exceed $50,000, suspension of license as authorized by law or imprisonment for not more than one (1) year, or to both such fine and imprisonment