reauthorization of the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act as a way of allowing rural western Alaska access to the fishery. However, the program was not included in the final version of the bill. Discussions about a community development program continued in the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) during debates on two related issues: the split of the allocation of pollock quota between inshore and offshore processing operations and the proposed individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for the halibut and sablefish fishery.
The allocation of pollock quota between inshore and offshore processing operations is central to the management of the North Pacific groundfish fishery. Currently, a percentage of the pollock quota is allocated to inshore, shore-based processing plants that harvest the pollock with their own vessels, or purchase their product from catcher vessels operating in the BSAI pollock fishery. The remainder of the harvest is currently allocated to an "offshore sector" consisting of catcher-processors that harvest and process the pollock on board, processing motherships that receive pollock for processing at sea from catcher vessels, and catcher vessels that deliver pollock to catcher-processors. The allocations between the inshore and offshore sectors has been contentious and a focus of considerable debate over the years. Likewise, the decision to create an individual fishing quota program for the halibut and sablefish fishery was a contentious and difficult decision. In some cases, the CDQ program was linked to negotiations over the inshore and offshore allocations and the consideration of the Alaskan halibut and sablefish IFQ program.
Discussions continued over the next few months and in April 1991 the Council adopted a specific CDQ plan for analysis by council staff and inclusion in the inshore-offshore allocation proposal. The final inshore-offshore proposal (Amendment 18 to the Bering Sea and Aleutian Island Fishery Management Plan) included as a subpart the establishment of a CDQ program in western Alaska and allocated 7.5 percent of the total allowable catch (TAC), or one-half of the reserve quota, to communities on the Bering Sea coast. The decision to allocate 7.5 percent of the TAC (one-half the reserve quota) appears to be a decision based on a combination of factors such as stock assessment, management goals, and political factors. It is not based on specific biological, economic, or social criteria. The 15 percent reserve quota for the TAC is also somewhat arbitrarily defined, but is based on expectations of what percentage of quota might be appropriate to serve as a buffer to prevent overfishing. The allocations to the other species later included in the CDQ program were derived through similar decision-making processes. The plan was approved by the Council in June 1991 and was forwarded to the Secretary of Commerce. On May 28, 1992, the Secretary of Commerce approved the amendment and promulgated implementing regulations (Box 3.1).
In December 1992, state and federal officials finalized the regulations and procedures for the CDQ program. (See Appendixes D and E for state and federal regulations.) In 1995, sablefish and halibut were included in the CDQ program.