Political Structure and Jurisdictional Issues


Findings: The individual fishing quota is one of many legitimate tools that fishery managers should be allowed to consider and use. Sufficient experience and analysis of existing programs is available, both nationally and internationally, to suggest that IFQs can address some fishery management problems that are not easily addressed with other measures. Specifically, IFQ programs can have advantages over alternative management measures in addressing problems of overcapacity, efficiency, and utilization, if appropriately designed in relation to other objectives.

Recommendation: Congress should lift the moratorium on the development and implementation of IFQ programs established by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996, provided the other recommendations and suggestions of this report are considered and followed. Furthermore, the existing federally managed IFQ programs (Mid-Atlantic surf clams/ocean quahogs, Southeast Atlantic wreckfish, and North Pacific halibut and sablefish) should be allowed to proceed under the stewardship of their respective councils, again with the committee's recommendations in mind.

A related issue involves the two proposed systems that were stopped by the moratorium, the Pacific coast fixed-gear sablefish fishery and the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery. It would be desirable in both fisheries to take advantage of the work expended in developing the plans and to avoid changing control dates that would force the fisheries to start from a new, more intensely capitalized condition than before the moratorium. Both fisheries show evidence of overcapitalization (MRAG, 1997; PFMC, 1997).

Roles of Regional Councils Versus the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and Congress

Findings: Circumstances in fisheries vary widely and require different mechanisms to address the diverse conditions. Regional management is more likely than a national authority to be able to respond effectively to regional biologic, economic, and social conditions. It is a general principle that in dynamic, complex systems, it is better to design interventions as close as possible to the source of the problem (see later section on the delegation of management to local authorities). The Magnuson-Stevens Act creates a forum for the development of fishery management plans (FMPs) by those directly involved in the fisheries of each region. However, the history of the act's implementation provides many examples of congressional intervention in the regional management process (Shelley et al., 1994; NRC, 1997). The committee received testimony and has found examples nationwide of congressional action to prevent

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