The foreign experiences follow the same general format, although any comparison among the cases must be made carefully because of the different policy and management frameworks and political, social, and economic conditions under which these systems were developed.
Fishery managers in the United States have gained substantial experience with individual fishing quotas and related systems in the past eight years. In this section, three of the four existing IFQ programs (surf clam/ocean quahog, halibut, and sablefish), plus the spiny lobster transferable trap certificate program, are discussed in the order of their implementation. The wreckfish program is summarized in Chapter 3.
Each section describes the conditions that existed in the fishery prior to IFQs, including the factors that most directly led to IFQs (if implemented), and characteristics and outcomes of the program.
Surf clams (SC: Spisula solidissima) and ocean quahogs (OQ: Arctica islandica) are bivalve mollusks that occur along the U.S. East Coast, primarily from Maine to Virginia. Commercial concentrations of surf clams are found primarily off the Mid-Atlantic coast. In this region, they are found from the beach zone to a depth of about 60 m. Ocean quahogs have a similar distribution, overlapping considerably, but they are also found in deeper waters, from 8 to 256 m.
These two closely related fisheries are largely (but not entirely) conducted by the same vessels, in the range of 40-110 gross register tons (GRT), which employ hydraulic clam dredges. Most of the catch is shucked and processed into a variety of clam products (minced clams, clam strips, juice, sauce, chowder). Apart from a small bait fishery, the recreational fishery is insignificant. Surf clam fishing began in the 1940s; ocean quahog fishing began in the 1970s. In addition, a small fishery for ocean quahogs found in shallow waters in the Gulf of Maine began in the 1980s; its market is for fresh in-shell product.
The SCOQ fishery was the first to be managed under the Magnuson-Stevens Act in 1977; the first limited access fishery in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), through the moratorium created in 1977; and the first IFQ fishery in the EEZ, in 1990. Like the New Zealand IFQ program, but even more so, it is designed according to the prescriptions of free-market liberalism: there are few constraints on ownership eligibility, transfer, and other features, as described below.
Several features of the SCOQ fishery make it a relatively simple case for IFQ management. There is little competition for its product, although this is changing with the advent of clams from Iceland and elsewhere. The geographic range is relatively small; the number of vessels has never exceeded 140, and is now less