Prior Biological and Ecological Conditions in the Fishery

Pacific halibut and sablefish are both long-lived demersal species. Their range includes the continental shelf and slope areas from the Sea of Japan, through the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, and along North America's Pacific coast to central California. The distribution of sablefish extends as far south as Baja California. Each species is considered to be a single stock throughout its range. The coastwide biomass of halibut is currently above the 25-year average, but is declining and is expected to continue to decline in the near future. Sablefish biomass has been declining since 1986 and is currently 30% below the recent average (see Figure G.6).

Prior Economic and Social Conditions in the Fishery

In addition to being the focus of a directed commercial fishery, halibut is caught in treaty Indian fisheries, personal-use fisheries, sport fisheries, and as bycatch in a variety of other commercial fisheries. Sportfishing grew from 3% of the total 1984 catch to 11% of the 1996 catch (see Figure G.9). The treaty and personal-use fisheries account for a much smaller portion of the total catch. Halibut caught in the commercial fishery must be discarded if taken with other than hook-and-line gear, if taken when the fishery is closed, or if taken by a longline vessel that has already filled its available quota share. Similar restrictions apply to sablefish, although pots are a permitted gear in the Bering Sea, and a limited amount of the TAC is set aside for a directed trawl fishery. Analysis of the markets before IFQ implementation is limited for halibut (Herrmann, 1996) and nonexistent for sablefish. None of the models of halibut markets account for demand while simultaneously accounting for Canadian, U.S., and Russian supplies and export markets.

Participants in the halibut fishery were heterogeneous geographically, with home ports throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Although many vessels were specifically rigged for longlining, others were jury-rigged to fish for halibut for the duration of the short open seasons. Many halibut fishermen were engaged primarily in non-fishing occupations and took leave to participate in the short seasons. Halibut and sablefish have accounted, respectively, for 5% and 4% of the exvessel value of commercial catches off Alaska and are regionally significant (see Figure G.10).

Problems and Issues That Led to Consideration of an IFQ Program

The problems and issues that led to consideration of an IFQ program were allocation conflicts, gear conflicts, ghost fishing due to lost gear, bycatch loss in other fisheries, discard mortality, excess harvesting capacity, product quality as reflected in low real prices, safety, economic stability in the fishery and commu-



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