Fisheries catch share programs are a means of managing fisheries by allocating a specific portion of the total allowable catch of a fish stock to individuals, cooperatives, communities or other entities.
Although communities are included in the definition of catch shares, there has been a notable lack of implementation of existing provisions for communities in the nation's fisheries law. As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the eight U.S. Regional Fishery Management Councils begin implementing NOAA's new Catch Share Policy, both agency and councils have an important opportunity to emphasize and support fishing communities and jobs in the development of catch share programs.
The National Panel on the Community Dimensions of Fisheries Catch Share Programs is the first national, bi-partisan panel to address the important issue of how communities can participate and benefit under a catch share model of fisheries management. Comprised of 11 diverse experts in academia, rural economic development, social/conservation finance, and fishing community leaders, the panel spent a year reviewing existing and emerging catch share programs, and issued a report and recommendations on March 15, 2011
The Panel was convened by Ecotrust with the purpose of advancing the understanding, development and implementation of catch share programs such that they benefit communities whose economic, cultural and social fabric may depend upon fisheries.
The Panel's 16 recommendations include:
General Programmatic Recommendations
- Fishery management councils developing catch share programs must incorporate the goals and objectives as set forth in the Magnuson Stevens Act (MSA) and its National Standards, including National Standard 8 on Fishing Communities, with a clear strategy for revising programs if performance goals are not met.
- Councils should include ecosystem-based management (EBM, as defined in the National Ocean Policy) as a central, guiding element of any fisheries management program, including catch share programs.
Community-Based Governance Recommendations
- NOAA should seek approaches to support fishing communities in the development, expansion, and diversification of community-based initiatives.
- NOAA should require the development of Community Fishing Associations (CFAs), Regional Fishing Associations (RFAs) and other community structures now authorized in the MSA (Section 303a) within any catch share program.
- NOAA budgetary resources should be applied to further define and develop guidelines for implementation of the community provisions of the MSA to be applied by all fishery management councils.
Programmatic and Financial Innovation Recommendations
- NOAA should develop a dedicated loan program to assist communities and new entrants in the purchase of catch shares, and to act as a reserve for existing or future programs that have excluded communities from the initial quota allocation.
- NOAA should require a significant and appropriate baseline percentage of fisheries quota be anchored in communities in each council region through entities like Community Trusts, such as the Community Quota Entity program in Alaska.
- Councils should design catch share programs to include predictable, performance-based renewals as an alternative to allocations in perpetuity.
- Catch share program design should include mechanisms such as quota auctions with revenue recycling into coastal communities, and other strategies to improve the effects of quota programs on long-term sustainability and community stability.
- NOAA and councils should ensure that standards and costs for monitoring are appropriately scaled to the size and income capacity of boats.
- NOAA should convene a working group of representatives from key federal and state financing programs (USDA, EDA, Treasury, SBA and HUD to formulate a funding initiative for CFAs, and to engage financial intermediaries in support of capacity building technical assistance and investment.
- NOAA should invest in the research and development of business models for new private financing mechanisms that promote its program goals, as well as the capacity of fishermen and communities to utilize these mechanisms.
- Councils should establish baseline data and a system for socioeconomic monitoring of catch share programs so that a comprehensive understanding of how programs are working can be developed rather than relying on piecemeal evidence to date.
- Councils should require the effective participation of the fishing industry and communities in catch share program development from the beginning.
- NOAA should work within fisheries and look to other industries, such as pollution trading, to learn from other transparent trading and reporting mechanisms and apply those to catch share transactions using best available technology and expertise.
- NOAA should invest in new or additional capacity in catch share design expertise at the council staff level.
Download and read
Community Dimensions of Fisheries Catch Share Programs: Integrating Economy, Equity, and Environment report, March 15, 2011 (564kb PDF)
2pp. executive summary (2.5mb PDF)