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The Pacific Halibut and Sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program


By the late 1980s, the Pacific Halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepsis) and sablefish (Anaplopoma fimbria) longline fisheries off Alaska were seriously stressed by fleet overcapitalization. Seasons had shortened from months (in the early 1980s) to less than 48 hours/year in several administrative areas. Gear loss and conflicts, waste, excessive bycatch, poor product quality, vessels and lives at risk, and other manifestations of the "race for fish" characterized the fisheries.

In response, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) recommended, and the U.S. Secretary of Commerce approved, an Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) program for the fisheries. Implementation of the program began in 1993, and Quota Shares were initially issued to more than 5,000 persons in late 1994. Fishing under the program commenced in 1995.

Many of the program's design elements were put in place to avoid excessive consolidation of the harvest privilege associated with holding Quota and to protect the owner-operator nature of the catcher vessel fleet. The presentation will discuss the history of IFQ program, certain of its design elements, the program implementation and management process and pending and proposed changes to the program, including Cost Recovery, coastal community concerns, and the proposal to include sport charter fishing in the system. (Click here for presentation)

Source: Smith, P.J. 2000. “The Pacific halibut and sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) program.” In: Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade: Macrobehavior and Macroresults, July 10-14, 2000, Corvallis, Oregon. Corvallis, OR: International Institute for Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET).

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