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Massachusetts Ocean Management Task Force
September 5, 2003, Meeting Summary
Essex Conference Center and Retreat
The Ocean Management Task Force met September 5, 2003 in Essex, MA. Present at this meeting were Task Force members: Mike Egan, Larry Wheatley, Randy Tucker, Paul Howard, John Simpson, Bill Adler, Vivian Li, Priscilla Brooks, David O'Conner, Paul Diodati, Susan Tierney, Susan Snow-Cotter (sitting in for Tom Skinner), Robbin Peach, Fara Courtney (sitting in for Greg Watson), Jim Hunt, Tim Timmermann, Chris Godfrey (sitting in for Col. Koning), Pat Kurkel, Rich McGuinness, Dale Brown, Jack Clarke, Bruce Tarr, Tony Verga and Judy McDowell.
The Chair, Sue Tierney, opened the meeting with a review of the agenda.
The Chair asked members to describe their impressions of the workshop, what information is still needed to come before the Task Force so it can achieve a common platform, and what additional issues need to be added to the ongoing issue list. Task Force members reported that they thought the presentations were very informative but there were requests for additional information on fisheries and more information on economic issues, while others noted information overload. A member questioned when "the other side "would have a chance to present to the Task Force on why things are the way they are. Task Force public outreach is an ongoing concern and needs to be pinned down. After some discussion, it was agreed that a small Outreach Working Group led by Robbin Peach would meet in short order to devise a plan for acquiring public input on the Task Force's work.
Sue noted that the Task Force is achieving a growing sense of understanding of its job. She clarified that our task was not to develop an ocean zoning plan or map, but rather to create a framework that will allow the Secretary to get to that level of detail. The development of recommendations by February will require that the Task Force break into Working Groups to really dig into the issues that we are faced with. A member asked that the Working Groups be co-chaired by both a public sector employee and a private sector employee to give the perception of balance. While many shared this perspective, Sue explained that she asked the proposed chairs to take on this responsibility based on their ability to shoulder much of the work by virtue of their public servant status. She hesitated asking other Task Force members to take on additional work, but left the option open.
The Principles Working Group consisted of David O'Conner, Randy Tucker, Larry Wheatley, Robbin Peach, Priscilla Brooks, Paul Diodati, Greg Watson, and Susan Snow-Cotter. Copies of the 8-20-03 draft Massachusetts Ocean Management Principles were distributed to Task Force Members in their informational package. Six principles with a preamble were developed by the Principle Committee lead by David O'Conner. The Task Force discussed the preamble and each principle individually. Some of the comments are included below.
Task Force members ask that specific communities such as the fishing industry and waterfront industries be included specifically. Other members preferred the general wording feeling every interest was included.
Protect the Public Trust
Task Force members questioned the definition of "visual access" and whether it was in the current Chapter 91 authority. Some thought that specific mention of these types of access favored them over other types and the mention of them should be eliminated from the sentence. There appeared to be consensus on removing the term "visual access". The second sentence was viewed as a cost benefit equation and not a balance, in addition "harm" was viewed as a subjective term from a regulatory perspective. Several alternatives were put forth such as balancing competing demands, maximizing benefits while minimizing adverse impacts. There was some interest in having public access be a separate principle from the public trust.
Respect the Interdependence of Ecosystems
Task Force members commented that damage to the ecosystem from point and non-point source pollution should be noted. The international level should be added to the jurisdictions noted in the last sentence. Senator Tarr offered the following wording "maximizes effectiveness and benefits that embrace disciplines and regulatory schemes that govern factors related to ocean health."
To be more specific the word "native" should be added before species. Questions were asked concerning the meaning of abundance of species versus numbers of species or individuals.
Encourage Sustainable Uses
The mention of specific needs such as food, energy and commerce at the exclusion of others was a concern. There appeared to be consensus on keeping the wording general and not refer to types of uses. The word "balanced" was questioned, as it is something that cannot always be accomplished. One use is authorized over another. The need to factor in cumulative impacts was discussed. The suggestion was made to add public values to the last sentence. The word "encourage" in the title of the principle was commented on as not strong enough.
Use Best Available Information
In the second sentence the word "should" is not strong enough and "data" should be added after "information" in the last sentence. Many questioned the words "professional judgment"; the suggestion for replacement was "expert advice". The decision process should include information from multi-disciplinary fields of science and the public.
Foster Public Participation in Decision-Making
The words "public education" were questioned. Working Groups members responded that "public education" should be interpreted in the broad sense. Some thought education should have its own stand-alone principle. There was support for the environmental ethic concept, but again, maybe it should be a separate principle.
Summary of Principles Discussion
The Principles Working Group will go back with the comments heard and discussed at the meeting and refine the current document. The document will then be given to the public for review, comment and discussion.
Issues and Working Groups
Sue asked the group if they had any issues that they wanted to add to the Task Force's running "issues list" for consideration. Issues added were as follows: endangered species, coordination of multi-agency review of projects, mapping of the ocean floor, resource indicators of ecosystem health to guide the state in policy, research on ecosystems, and research in general for both promotion and interpretation of plans.
Sue explained that the working groups are as follows: Principles; Public Outreach (develop public outreach strategy); Policy/Legislation (tools for managing ocean resources - fishery tools, regulatory legal tools, gaps, best practices in other areas identify as part of our view, identify where we are, identify what is out there, identify gaps); Data Trends and Needs (state of knowledge, information needs, information gaps both in public and private sector, recommendations from other areas); Characterization of Ocean Users (beefed up version of Regional coordinator talks on uses of the sea); and, Ocean Management Framework (development of a new comprehensive ocean management system).
The Task Force divided the on-going issues list among the Working Groups with some issues landing within several Working Groups. Task Force members self-selected what groups they would like to serve on. The group agreed that proxies could be sent to participate in working group work.
A draft agenda was distributed for the September 15th Task Force meeting.