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The U.S. West Coast groundfish trawl fishery is now managed under a new, innovative program known as the Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program. Under this program, the total allowable catch in the fishery is divided into shares that are controlled by fishermen. These shares, which represent the number of pounds available to catch, can be caught at the vessel’s convenience throughout the season. The catch share program is intended to increase the fishery’s net economic benefits, create individual economic stability for participants, provide full utilization of the trawl sector groundfish allocation, consider environmental impacts, and achieve individual accountability of catch and bycatch.
The Fisheries Resource Analysis and Monitoring Division at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center is responsible for training and equipping at-sea observers and collecting and analyzing biological data and economic information. The final regulation, which was published in the Federal Register on December 15, 2010 ( 75 FR 78344), requires 100% at-sea observer monitoring of catch and yearly submissions of economic data.
Two features of the catch share program – observer coverage and economic data collection – were included by the Pacific Fishery Management Council to insure the integrity of the program by enhancing individual vessel accountability, enhancing data quality, and providing annual surveys of economic and conservation benefits. The observer program requires 100% observer coverage at sea and 100% monitoring of landings on shore. All catch (including both retained and discarded) will be independently monitored from its catch at sea to its landing on shore, and tallied after each trip throughout the year. This enables the fishery to be managed on an individual vessel basis, rather than solely via fleet-wide measures. Collection of economic data from industry members will be used to track changes in the fishery’s total economic benefits and determine whether the program’s goals are being met.
View more information on the catch share observer program.
View more information about the economic data collection program
Many agencies and departments are involved in the operation of the West Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program. They include:
NOAA’s West Coast Region Office formulates the management structure through development of regulations. The regional office also handles catch share allocation, an initial observer cost subsidy, and tracking and trains and supports on-shore catch monitors.
NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center trains and supports observers and collects and analyzes observer biological data and catch share program economic data.
NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement enforces the regulations governing trawl catch share at sea and shoreside program implementation.
The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission aids in tracking catch share quotas and provides an observer cost subsidy.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council recommended the design of the catch share program and enables regulatory updates and changes to the program.
Washington, Oregon and California state offices aid in the collection, recording, and enforcement of quotas.
Further information on national catch share policy and development can be found at: NOAA Fisheries Office of Sustainable Fisheries Catch Share Policy website.
For more information on the Economic Data Collection Program please visit: http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/research/divisions/fram/economics/economic_data.cfm
Economic Data Collection Program
For more information on the regulations, catch share allocations and management of the groundfish trawl fishery, please visit the NMFS West Coast Groundfish Catch Share Program.