Sunday, November 9, 2008

Individual quota proposal for Gulf of Mexico Grouper and Tilefish

Summary Information About the Potential IFQ Program


Note the range of issues that have to be settled before the program can begin.

The current management of Gulf commercial grouper and tilefish fisheries is based on a traditional command and control approach. This management approach has resulted in overcapitalization of the commercial grouper and tilefish fisheries which has caused increased derby fishing conditions and in some years has led to closures of these fisheries prior to the end of the fishing year. The purpose of implementing an IFQ program for the commercial grouper and tilefish fisheries is to rationalize effort and reduce overcapacity in the fleet. Actions in Amendment 29 include: Initial eligibility for participation in the IFQ program, initial apportionment of IFQ shares, IFQ share categories, multi-use allocation and trip allowances, transfer eligibility requirements, IFQ share ownership caps, IFQ allocation ownership caps, a procedure to accommodate adjustments to the commercial quota, establishment and structure of an appeals process, a ``use it or lose it'' policy for IFQ shares, a cost recovery plan, and approval of landing sites. The Council has selected its preferred alternatives for each of these actions through the normal Council process. If the referendum is approved, the Council, if it so decides, may continue with the submission of Amendment 29 to the Secretary for review and possible approval and implementation. More information on Amendment 29, including Frequently Asked Questions about the proposed IFQ program, may be found on NMFS' Southeast Regional Office's website at

1 comment:

Brandon Bloggin' 4 lib103 said...

If the fisheries can successfully implement this, it could be crucial for rebuilding Snapper-Grouper stocks in the South Atlantic. The big problem with this system will ultimately be the determination of individual quotas.

If quotas are issued based on past log books, newer operations are going to have little input into the fishery, if they can even survive in operation. While some of this is necessary, it is an ultimate effect. On the other side of this argument, if closures continue to happen, and populations continue to decline, the fishermen will be out of jobs anyway.

One of many other considerations is the government’s costs in regulating these fisheries. If several large operations hold the entire quota for the fishery, this could ultimately be good for the fishery. While this is bad for small business, capitalism, entrepreneurship, and the small independent business owners affected, it would allow for easier regulation. Whether America faces it or not, cuts in government spending are almost inevitable. With that being said, fisheries budgets will decline further, and will not allow for regulation of the industry at the current state. Currently, during the months of March and April several species of Snapper-Grouper are already banned for harvest commercially in the South Atlantic region. How would these types of laws be enforced with lessened budgets?

Another consideration must be entrants into the fishery at a later time. For the most part, commercial fishermen’s age is increasingly older and older. Most snapper-grouper fishermen entered into the business in the 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s. With increased costs (fuel, resin-boat costs, insurance, etc.), these fishermen will have more and more incentive to leave the business. Is the fishery going to allow for their quotas to be purchased or transferred to new entrants? I think this is very critical if the fishery will remain viable over the long-term. Otherwise, very little grouper will be offered in restaurants, and will be sold at a premium (that is caught in the US that it – Note: most of the local caught fish are sold to New York or Canada first anyway). However, perhaps lessened harvest, and more premium prices will offer greater profitability, and increased fish stocks (an economic and conservation median)?