Alternatives for the West Coast Groundfish Adaptive Management Program
Towne, Sarah Elizabeth
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The West Coast groundfish individual fishing quota program divided fishing rights among commercial trawl fishermen into transferable quota shares in 2011. Instead of allocating the full 100% of shares to fishermen, the Pacific Fishery Management Council made a bold decision to hold 10% of the quota shares for each of 28 species aside in an adaptive management program. These shares were an insurance policy for the substantial changes occurring under the new management regime; by holding something aside, the Council could later direct these shares toward one or more of the five adaptive management program objectives: stabilizing fishing communities, stabilizing fish processors, facilitating new entrants, addressing conservation concerns, or responding to other unintended outcomes of the individual fishing quota program. But after almost five years, the Council has not yet developed the adaptive management program and the shares have not been assigned to meet their intended objectives. Instead current quota share owners receive adaptive management program quota pounds in addition to what they already own. Here, I suggest six policy options for the adaptive management program to meet the Council’s stated objectives, and consider each option in terms of effectiveness, politically viability and implementation feasibility. While no policy can clearly be seen as superior to others using the dimensions analyzed, the strengths and weaknesses of the various options become more transparent. This assessment can contribute to continued discussion in the Council process.
- Marine affairs