distance commuters (e.g., between New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Cape May, New Jersey). Crew members often come from the hinterlands of port communities; thus, the Atlantic City fleet has little directly to do with Atlantic City; the owners and crew members live primarily in old "baymen" towns like Absecon and Tuckerton, New Jersey. In ports such as Cape May and Wildwood, the New Jersey clam fleet is part of a much larger fishing fleet, all embedded in a seasonal tourist economy, where fishing is one of the very few year-round occupations.

Occupational health and safety issues loomed large in this fishery; vessels frequently sank and men's lives were often lost each year in New Jersey and Delmarva waters by the late 1980s. A study of mortality rates in New Jersey showed that fishing was one of the most dangerous occupations in the state, and these rates resulted almost entirely from the surf clam and ocean quahog fisheries (P. Guarnaccia, personal communication, September 14, 1998). For example, five clam vessels capsized in New Jersey waters in 1989. A study of fishermen's perspective on marine safety showed that sea clamming was widely seen as one of the most dangerous fisheries, partly because of its technology and partly because of the regulatory system, which created pressures to harvest and bring in as much as possible in a very short period of time, often in bad weather (McCay, 1992). Disasters affect the larger community, and in the Cape May region the resident fishing community responds by hosting parties to raise funds for the families of fishermen lost at sea. The larger community has responded by raising funds for a memorial to the region's fishermen lost at sea.

Problems and Issues That Led to Consideration of an Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) Program

The moratorium on new clam vessels (through the MAFMC) was widely considered a success in preventing overharvest of surf clams and fostering development of the ocean quahog fishery, but it was a cumbersome regulatory system that was costly to monitor and enforce. It was characterized by numerous regulatory changes (seven amendments to the FMP between 1978 and 1987). It was complicated by the fact that after 1980, the New England Fishery Management Council took responsibility for managing the smaller fishery in the New England area (Nantucket Shoals; for a short while also Georges Bank).

Many provisions of the FMP and its implementation were seen by industry and NMFS alike as burdensome, inflexible, and in need of change. A prime example is the use of restricted fishing time to ensure relatively even distribution of the harvest over the year, to benefit the processors. Until 1987, the NMFS Northeast regional director specified the number and length of allowable trips per week or other period (up to two weeks). The vessel owner chose the day or days he or she wished to fish, notified the regional director, and then had to "use or lose" the days. In the winter, one could obtain a makeup day, but if this day also was missed, the opportunity was lost. When combined with the inability to



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement