Broad stakeholder support and participation is present. Although consensus is not necessary, active stakeholder involvement throughout the design, implementation, and operation of an IFQ program is crucial.


     The fishery is amenable to cost-effective monitoring and enforcement.


     Adequate data exist. Because of the long-term impacts and potential irreversibility of IFQ programs, it is important that sufficient data are available to assess and allow the mitigation of, insofar as possible, the potential social and economic impacts of IFQs on individuals and communities.


     The likelihood for spillover2 of fishing activities into other fisheries is recognized and provision is made to minimize its negative effects.

IFQ-based management can be particularly useful, but more difficult to develop and administer, when fisheries have evolved to a point of overcapitalization. When IFQs are applied to overcapitalized fisheries, they can be expected to result in a reduction in the number of participants. However, IFQs can be even more valuable as a preventive measure when applied to fisheries that are not already in trouble.

As discussed in greater detail later, decisions to implement IFQs or to use alternative methods of fishery management should be handled by regional councils, rather than at the national level. The committee believes that fishery management—including the development of IFQs and other management programs—should continue to be the responsibility of the regional councils, subject to review by the Secretary of Commerce.

Evidence of the effects of IFQs for the conservation of fish stocks is mixed and there are few generalizable statements of fact that can be made (ICES, 1996, 1997). However, to the extent that IFQs are enforced, they can keep harvests within a TAC; open-access fisheries often exceed their TACs. Both OECD (1997) and the committee's examination of U.S. and foreign IFQ programs indicate that IFQs may increase or decrease bycatch discards and highgrading, depending on the fishery. It can be demonstrated, however, that highgrading is unlikely to be profitable (see Box 3.4). Neither the existence of quota busting nor the lack thereof have been demonstrated as a general feature of IFQs.

Discussed below are a number of recommendations to Congress, the Secretary of Commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service, the regional fishery management councils, states, and other fishery stakeholders related to a national policy for IFQs. Action on some of the recommendations in this report will require changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, regulatory language developed by the Secretary of Commerce, or rules implemented by regional councils.


Spillover occurs when one fishery becomes more restrictive in area, time, or number of licenses available and fishermen shift to other fisheries, increasing the capitalization and effort in these fisheries. This shift is possible when fishing skills and equipment are relatively transferable among fisheries with minor adjustments.

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