Allocations to Communities

Findings: Catch history, as a measure of participation in a fishery, reflects the participation not only of individuals and occupational groups, but also of fishing communities. From this perspective, communities may be entitled to initial quota allocations. Community development quotas (CDQs) have been implemented in the Western Alaska-Bering Sea region to stimulate development of commercial fishing activities in communities adjacent to the fishing grounds and having few other economic opportunities. A separate National Research Council (NRC) committee has reviewed the Alaskan CDQ program and considered whether a similar program would be feasible and desirable for communities in the Western Pacific region (see NRC, 1999a). The definition of IFQs in the Magnuson-Stevens Act includes quotas held by a community association or local government but does not include community development quotas (Sec. 2[21]).

"Community fishing quotas" could contribute to community sustainability in areas that are heavily dependent on fishing for social, cultural, and economic values and/or are lacking in alternative economic opportunities. They may also be considered as ways of delegating some management responsibility and authority to communities. Shares of a TAC may be awarded to designated communities—whether politically defined or defined as groups of fishing crews working in or from the same area—which then have the opportunity to determine how they will allocate the shares and manage the fishery, whether by open access, trip limits, or individual transferable quotas.

Recommendations: The committee recommends that councils consider including fishing communities in the initial allocation of IFQs, where appropriate, and that the Secretary of Commerce interpret the language in the Magnuson-Stevens Act pertaining to fishing communities (Sec. 303 [b][6][E] and National Standard 8) to support this approach to limited access management. Congress should allow, through a change in the Magnuson-Stevens Act if necessary, councils to allocate quota to communities or other groups, as distinct from vessel owners or fishermen. Where an IFQ program already exists, councils should be permitted to authorize communities to purchase, hold, manage, and sell IFQs. These communities could use their quota shares for community development purposes, as a resource for preserving access for local fishermen, or for reallocation to member fishermen by a variety of means, including loans. If the communities chose to allocate the rights to individuals, they could be constrained by covenants or other restrictions to be nontransferable.

Regional fishery management councils should determine the qualifying criteria for a community that is permitted to hold quota. A range of factors, such as proximity to the resource, dependence on the resource, contribution of fishing to the community's economic and social well-being, and historic participation in the fishery, may be among the factors that a council considers when setting criteria

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