With all the papers, people and scheduling, Council meetings can be pretty confusing to those who are new to the process. These are a few answers to the most common questions we receive about the Council meetings and process. Feel free to call the office for more information (907) 271-2809, or email the administrative staff: Peggy Kircher or Shannon Gleason.
1) “I don’t know what all these acronyms stand for. Where can I find a list?”
Here is a list of our commonly used acronyms and abbreviations and their definitions. We will continually keep this list updated; however, if you find one not on the list, don’t hesitate to contact our admin staff.
2) “It looks like there is more than one meeting going on. How do I know which one to go to?”
There are three major meetings that make up a typical North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting. The Scientific and Statistical Committee (the SSC) and the Advisory Panel (AP) take up the same agenda the Council does—they just begin a day or two in advance so they can provide their recommendations to the Council. The SSC is made up of scientists and economists and the AP’s membership covers a variety of fishing industry sectors as well as conservation groups. Representatives on the SSC, Council, and AP are from Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. The public can comment in each meeting, but usually a person will choose to comment in the AP and repeat his or her comment in the Council meeting.
3) “They keep referring to documents on the Agenda. Where are they, and can I get a copy?”
The NPFMC process has gone mostly paperless! The Council members, SSC, AP and staff now refer to the meeting materials in electronic format on an app called iLegislate. Anyone (including YOU!) can download that application, log into npfmc.granicus.com, username GUEST and password NPFMC. You can also get copies of every document on npfmc.legistar.com, or through the Agenda link that is posted electronically on our website. The Agenda contains links to the “action memos” which are summaries of the action required, documents being discussed, background information, public comment, presentations, and even results of the meeting (see #6 below).
We currently still provide a reference binders at the back of each meeting room (i.e., Council Briefing Book) containing the above items. However, due to so many items being presented electronically and handed out during the meeting, it’s impossible to keep these binders current, which is why we refer you to the Agenda links as the official meeting material repository. Because of the size of these books and the time required to put them together, they are not available to the general public, but everything in them is put on the table in stacks out in the hallway. If you sent a written comment before the deadline, it will also be in the books, and in the copies in the hallway.
4) “How do I know when the item I am interested in will be discussed?”
The AGENDA provides brief information on the items to be discussed, but for timing, you will be interested in the SCHEDULE which gives the order and a general time of when the items will be discussed in each of the three meetings. Sometimes the Chairperson of each meeting will announce that an issue will be taken at a specific time; usually called “time certain.”
Otherwise, discussion on an item can run over a specified amount of time, or on occasion, finish early. It is good to view the schedule as a guideline. If you have questions, or have to catch a flight later in the day, you may want to check with a staff member. Usually they have a general idea as to how long an agenda item may continue. You can also listen in during the Council’s meeting at npfmc.adobeconnect.com.
5) “I want to tell them what I think, I have it written down, and I want to pass it out. What should I do?”
Great! It sounds like you are prepared. If you have something you’d like to hand out to any of the members, BRING YOUR COPIES WITH YOU and have your name and date on it. Better yet, email the Council secretary. She can upload it so it appears on everyone’s device. The AP, SSC and Council will always have sign-up sheets in the back of the room for each agenda item. (The SSC takes public testimony only on scientific issues). The Chair of each meeting will pull this list right before the start of public comment on that agenda item, and will begin calling names. When your name is called, go to the table. If you have something to hand out, you can give your copies to the secretary seated at the front of the room. Remember to introduce yourself. Because of time constraints, public comment is limited to 3 minutes for individuals and 6 minutes for groups/organizations.
6) “How do I find out the results of the meeting? Are the minutes available?”
The AP and the SSC finish their meetings before the Council does, and their draft minutes are always available once their meetings are completed. A representative from the SSC and the AP use them to give a report to the Council, and copies will be handed out to the public. They are also posted to the Agenda under “In Meeting Minutes” (Item A3). Since the AP and the SSC are only advisory bodies, their minutes are much more “informal.” The Council does not have “minutes” but rather each agenda item that has a motion is available through links on that agenda item. A Council Meeting Summary containing all motions considered and voted on is prepared between meetings and posted to the Agenda as soon as it is available.The Newsletter provides a comprehensive summary of a majority of the actions the Council took, and can provide you with contact information for a specific issue, and in some cases direct you to a specific website for detailed information or a motion. Newsletters are generally available a week following the meeting.
7) “Are the meetings recorded?”
The Council meeting is recorded and the audio files are available through downloads on BOX.NET.
8) “How do I get notified of Meetings and Newsletters?”
You can subscribe to receive an electronic Agenda and Newsletter as soon as they’re available by adding your email to our Mailchimp list located at the bottom of our homepage.
9) “So the meeting is over, now what?”
If you want to remain involved, make sure the staff has your email address. The agenda and newsletter are quickly distributed that way, and occasionally updates are e-mailed out to the public. Check the Council website for current information—most items are posted there before the meetings. Above all, if you have questions, ask. A staff member can give you a place to start. If you are a member of the commercial fishing community or if your business serves recreational fishers, you may want to get involved. You may not have control over the weather, ocean conditions, or market prices, but if you get involved in the Council process you can have some input into the decisions that affect your business and the conservation and management of the North Pacific resources.