tives to the councils and NMFS. This review process could help reduce future challenges to the program being established by providing an opportunity for an additional perspective that is not affected by the proposals being developed and considered. Another option would be to develop and manage IFQ programs through a subset of a council, rather than the entire council. This option could have several advantages, including freeing the council to concentrate on broader management issues and allowing the subgroup to work more quickly and with greater focus.
Recommendation: The committee does not believe that creating an institution and process separate from the existing councils and NMFS to design, implement, and/or manage an IFQ program would best address the concerns of stakeholders. The major aspects of designing, implementing, and managing any potential IFQ program should remain within the purview of the regional councils and NMFS. The Secretary of Commerce should ensure that each fishery management plan that incorporates IFQs include enforceable provisions for the regular review and evaluation of the performance of IFQ programs, including a clear timetable, criteria to be used in evaluation, and steps to be taken if the programs do not meet these criteria. Provisions should be made for the collection and evaluation of data required for this assessment. The process could include review by external, independent review bodies.
Finding: During its review, the committee found that as IFQ programs have been developed and implemented throughout the United States, the regional councils and NMFS have learned from the implementation of previous IFQ programs. In examining the evolution of IFQ programs nationally from surf clams/ocean quahogs to the proposed red snapper IFQ program in the Gulf of Mexico region and the sablefish IFQ program in the Pacific region, newer programs have been designed to avoid past difficulties. It appears that design features related to accumulation limits, transferability, leasing, quota shares for crew members, and other aspects have been modified based on observations of the effects of previous programs. However, the exchange of information among various regional councils, NMFS, and other interested stakeholders does not appear to be well coordinated. The committee could not find a centralized source of data describing the effects of existing programs. Although some of the programs have documented important aspects of their effects, such as the accumulation of quota share, the degree of transferability, and the geographical distribution of quota, these data are often difficult to obtain. It appears that in some IFQ programs, this lack of readily available information has contributed to the controversy surrounding the implementation and management of the program. With the exception of the Alaskan halibut and sablefish IFQ programs, there is no regular periodic review of the changes in trends in critical elements in the distribution of