Management Efficiency


Ecological | Economic | Social | Governance

Has the efficiency of fishery management changed?

Indicator: Management Efficiency

This indicator shows the proportion of Pacific Fishery Management Council actions and National Marine Fisheries Service rule-making actions dedicated to managing the groundfish fishery versus other fisheries in the West Coast region.


In the absence of a record of the amount of time the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) spend on various topics, this indicator uses actions; appointed committees, task, and work groups; in-season adjustments, and agency actions such as federal register rule notices as a proxy for time spent. The actions used to develop the metric were decisions related to development of the Shorebased IFQ Program that the Council approved, adopted, decided, recommended, or appointed. Prior to development of the Shorebased IFQ Program, Council actions related to groundfish management represented about half the actions discussed at Council meetings. The number of ad hoc working groups devoted to aspects of the catch share program increased after the 2003 control date used to decide eligibility for an IFQ program, with a peak in 2009. Following implementation of the catch share program, time spent on actions related to the program has decreased. This indicator also considers management efficiency as measured through the number of actions the Council and NMFS have taken to make in-season adjustments, which also have declined.

Baseline Years: Prior to Catch Share Program

The Pacific Fishery Management Council meets five times per year to discuss its five Fishery Management Plans (FMPs; Salmon, Pelagics, Highly Migratory Species, Pacific Halibut, and Groundfish), along with administrative and legislative topics and trending topics such as essential fish habitat, ecosystem-based management, and marine protected areas. Therefore the indicator presents as a proxy for time changes in the number of actions related to development of the Shorebased IFQ Program that the Council approved, adopted, decided, or recommended, and the number of regulatory actions published in the Federal Register taken by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Although certain meetings may have a focus on one FMP, during the baseline period of 2002–2010, every meeting had at least some discussion of all FMPs. Groundfish actions represented an average of more than half of the Council’s yearly decision-making through the period.

Development of a catch share program had been under discussion as early as the 1980s, but discussion resulting in actions related to groundfish management increased after the Congressional moratorium on the creation of new IFQ programs expired in 2002. A control date used to decide eligibility for an IFQ program was set in 2003 (i.e. catch history after this date could not be considered for deciding an initial allocation in the program), and the first working group, an ad hoc committee on the Shorebased IFQ Program, was named in 2004. From 2004 through 2010, the Council created a dozen ad hoc groups to work on aspects of the Shorebased IFQ Program development.

The numbers of Council, NMFS and industry participants, and subcommittees, ad hoc and ancillary groups spending time developing the catch share program as a subset of discussion on the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP peaked in 2009, when Amendment 20 was drafted (Management Framework). In the development phase, Council actions devoted to groundfish management and to developing the catch share program exceeded Council actions on all other FMPs combined.

Catch Share Program

With the implementation of Amendment 20 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish FMP implementing the Shorebased IFQ Program in 2011, time spent on catch share program actions decreased. The Council continued to spend time on trailing amendments, which had been planned as follow-on to FMP Amendment 20. Numerous trailing actions were implemented in 2013 and 2014, and the Council has set priorities for action on remaining issues. Now in its fourth year, groundfish decision-making takes up slightly more than 40 percent of the Council’s actions on an annual basis, and the IFQ program actions represent about 10 percent of the Council’s time. In terms of time spent by NMFS, the percent of groundfish actions as a portion of all rules pertaining to the Pacific Council, declined after implementation of the program; the percentage of in-season adjustment rules pertaining to groundfish (catch share and non-catch share) varied from 2011 through 2014.


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Data Gaps and Limitations

This indicator uses a comparison of all Council action items, groundfish action items, and groundfish catch share actions as a proxy for time. Rulemaking, as recorded by notices of FMP amendments, openings, closures, and adjustments to catch limits provides the proxy for time spent by staff of the NMFS Northwest Regional Office. Fishery managers were consulted for advice on what action types to include.

Information Sources

Federal Register. 2002 – 2014. NOAA Rules for Pacific Groundfish FMP. Available online:

Pacific Fishery Management Council. 2002–2014. Briefing Books, Meeting Minutes, Decisions. Available online:

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Management Efficiency (pdf) – June 2015 (updated results)

Archive of previous versions:

Management Efficiency: Management Time (pdf) – January 2015 (minor editorial revisions)

Management Efficiency: Management Actions (pdf) – September 2013 (initial release)

Updated: June 3, 2015