Fish Radio

Catch shares:  Seven elements to consider

October 2, 2015

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch …. Carving up Gulf groundfish – seven steps to consider.  I’ll tell you more after this —

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Next week fish managers will begin crafting a plan to reduce bycatch in Gulf of Alaska trawl fisheries. It will likely include catch shares of up to 25 groundfish species.

For any such program, seven straightforward topics should drive the decisions, says Duncan Fields, a lifelong Kodiak fisherman and a North Pacific Council member. Here is a sampler:

 Issue one:  Who gets the fish and why – vessel owners only? Directed species only?  Bycatch species only?   Would you distribute only by history, if so why, if not, why not.

If you distribute only by history, how do you address the concern about rewarding fishermen who have generally fished dirty?  Can you talk about equal distribution based on participation?   

The second major question is what kind of access rights would be given to the resource.

 Is it both the quota share and the annual IFQ?  Or could they be separated and the annual IFQ given in one way and the quota share retained. .  Would access only be through co ops?  Why? Would you preserve any open access fisheries as a way to address issues of entry level fishermen?   

 What how will you limit or restrict consolidation. What about caps?  Would the number of vessels be reduced?

 Who would you qualify to hold the access right to the quota?  Would there be a qualification based on vessel ownership, and for experience or active participation?   What about leasing issues? And transfer issues, who can, and  for what period? Would you assess a transfer tax   used to achieve another goal in the program?

Number three is who gets to process the fish and why?  The next consideration is community interests.

 What do we protect – infrastructure? Jobs – volume, taxes, local businesses, residency, new community opportunities – should Kodiak only forever be the only single port that trawl groundfish is processed in the Central Gulf?

 What about gear conversions?  How do we motivate and integrate gear conversions, and recognize the economic impact those conversions could have.  And don’t we have a responsibility as stewards of the resource to also think about habitat protections?  

How does the new program change the industry relationships we’ve built over time, between fishermen and their crews or processors and fishermen?  Finally, Fields says number seven is of utmost importance: what is the mechanism for programmatic review and change? He brings it home —

These programs are all about tradeoffs.  All about making these policy decisions about what is possible within the overall structure of the program.  



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