Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Catch Shares

Sector Description

Implemented in January 2011, the West Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program is a limited access privilege program under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. It consists of an Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) program for the limited entry bottom trawl fleet and two distinct cooperative programs for the at-sea hake mothership and catcher-processor trawl fleets. The bottom trawl fleets traditionally operates from the U.S./Canadian border to Morro Bay, California. The at-sea hake fleet operates off the coasts of Oregon and Washington.

Observer data is used to account for any IFQ discarded catch, including the mandatory discarding of Pacific halibut. Observer data, in combination with landings data, enable fishermen to track their individual fishing quotas and allow managers to monitor the progress of the fishery.

LE Bottom Trawl

Groundfish bottom trawl vessels range in size from 35 to 95 feet, with an average length of 65 feet. Vessels fish throughout the year in a wide range of depths and deliver catch to shore-side processors. Bottom trawlers often target species assemblages, which can result in diverse catches. A single groundfish bottom trawl tow often includes 15-20 species. Individual fish sizes and weights also vary widely within each catch. Groundfish trawl vessels retain the portion of their catch that is marketable and permitted to be landed. The portion of the catch which is prohibited by regulations or not marketable is discarded at-sea.

At-sea Hake Processing Vessels

At-sea hake vessels range in size from 150 to over 300 feet. Vessels target Pacific hake (Merluccius productus) with mid-water trawl nets and fish during the primary season from May through November. The catch is predominantly hake, but can include rockfish (Sebastes spp.) and salmon bycatch. There are approximately 9-15 vessels that participate in the fishery in any given year. The portion of their catch that can be processed is retained and the portion of the catch which is prohibited by regulations or can not be processed is discarded at-sea.

Selection Process

All vessels participating in the West Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program are required by regulation to carry a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)-certified observer during all fishing trips, as all catch of IFQ species/species groups must be accounted for. Vessels participating in Catch Shares include:

Coverage/Waivers

All trips taken by vessels participating in the West Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program are covered. Any vessel safety issues must be resolved before an observer is deployed, as no coverage waivers are granted.

Catch Share Reporting

Year of data Year of release Description Format
2011 Continual Data from catch share program (bottom trawl portion) Excel
2011 Continual Data from catch share program (at-sea hake processing) Northwest Region website