Report Gets Beyond Controversy with Concrete Ways of Spreading Benefits
Washington, D.C. - A national, bi-partisan panel of 11 experts is releasing a report with 16 recommendations to strengthen the resilience and prosperity of fishing communities under a new Catch Share Policy.
America’s fishing communities generate $163 billion in revenues each year and support 1.9 million jobs; however, there has been a notable lack of implementation of existing provisions for communities in the nation’s fisheries law.
“This isn’t about being pro- or anti-catch shares. Catch share policy is coming and, done right, it can significantly bolster fishing communities and increase jobs,” said Paul Parker, Director of the Cape Cod Fisheries Trust. “These recommendations are about putting boats on the water and boots on the deck.”
The National Panel on Community Dimensions of Fisheries Catch Share Programs developed a 36-page report over the past year to address ways the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the eight U.S. Regional Fisheries Councils should include communities in their implementation of catch share policy. One example is to encourage NOAA to grant initial allocations of fish quotas to community entities.
Catch shares are a flexible means of managing fisheries by allocating a specific portion of the total allowable catch of a fish stock to individuals, cooperatives, communities or other entities.
During a national telepress conference, two panelists and an Alaska fisherwoman shared the Panel’s findings and recommendations.
The Panel’s recommendations include urging NOAA to further define and develop guidelines for implementation of the community provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to be applied by all fishery management councils.
“As we move increasingly to a catch share model of fisheries management in the U.S., we need to get beyond a sense of who’s winning and who’s losing,” said John Campagna, managing partner at Restore Capital. “NOAA can help do that by requiring the councils to recognize community fishing associations and grant part of the catch allocation to them.”
Another Panel recommendation is that the agency and councils expand their financial tools to include public-private partnerships, loan guarantees, and a dedicated loan program to help communities purchase catch shares.
“We should be looking at how communities can participate in catch share programs, including through fishing associations and coops, and with creative financing mechanisms,” said Theresa Peterson, a veteran fisherwoman from Kodiak, Alaska. “We don’t want to encourage an absentee system where folks who own catch shares sit at home, then turn around and lease their shares to other fishermen at a big profit.”
Panelists, fishermen and policy specialists will be visiting Congressional members and NOAA Fisheries staff this week to share the Panel’s findings.
To read the executive summary or entire report, please visit: www.ecotrust.org/fisheries
Although communities are included in the definition of catch shares, there has been a notable lack of implementation of existing provisions for communities in the nation’s fisheries law.
Here are the Panel’s Recommendations:
Community-Based governance recommendations
➤ NOAA should seek approaches to support fishing communities in the development, expansion, and diversification of community-based initiatives.
➤ NOAA should require the development of Community Fishing associations (CFAs), Regional Fishing Associations (RFAs) and other community structures now authorized in the MSA (Section 303a) within any catch share program.
➤ NOAA budgetary resources should be applied to further define and develop guidelines for implementation of the community provisions of the MSA to be applied by all fishery management councils.
Programmatic and Financial Innovation recommendations
➤ NOAA should develop a dedicated loan program to assist communities and new entrants in the purchase of catch shares, and to act as a reserve for existing or future programs that have excluded communities from the initial quota allocation.
➤ NOAA should require a significant and appropriate baseline percentage of fisheries quota be anchored in communities in each council region through entities like Community trusts, such as the Community quota entity program in Alaska.
➤ Councils should design catch share programs to include predictable, performance-based renewals as an alternative to allocations in perpetuity.
➤ Catch share program design should include mechanisms such as quota auctions with revenue recycling into coastal communities, and other strategies to improve the effects of quota programs on long-term sustainability and community stability.
➤ NOAA and councils should ensure that standards and costs for monitoring are appropriately scaled to the size and income capacity of boats.
➤ NOAA should convene a working group of representatives from key federal and state financing programs (USDA, EDA, Treasury, SBA and HUD) to formulate a funding initiative for CFAs, and to engage financial intermediaries in support of capacity building technical assistance and investment.
➤ NOAA should invest in the research and development of business models for new private financing mechanisms that promote its program goals, as well as the capacity of fishermen and communities to utilize these mechanisms.
➤ Councils should establish baseline data and a system for socioeconomic monitoring of catch share programs so that a comprehensive understanding of how programs are working can be developed rather than relying on piecemeal evidence to date.
➤ Councils should require the effective participation of the fishing industry and communities in catch share program development from the beginning.
➤ NOAA should work within fisheries and look to other industries, such as pollution trading, to learn from other transparent trading and reporting mechanisms and apply those to catch share transactions using best available technology and expertise.
➤ NOAA should invest in new or additional capacity in catch share design expertise at the council staff level.