Did the public cost of fishery management change?

Indicators: Appropriations, Grants and Expenditures | Pacific Shorebased ITQ Appropriations and Costs

Short Answer: Public investment in managing the West Coast groundfish trawl ITQ has decreased with implementation of a cost recovery program.

Key Findings

  • The primary cost to the public during the baseline period (2002–2010) were expenditures related to development of what eventually was adopted as the Shorebased IFQ Program.
  • An upfront investment, largely to support the 100% observer requirement, is seen in FY11. The declining trend for monitoring and enforcement once the program was implemented reflects the transition of observer costs to industry.
  • Overall national catch share program funding received an initial appropriation of $41 million in FY2011, then dropped and remained constant at levels below $28 million for FY2012-2016.

Interactive Chart Story

Metrics

Appropriations enacted by Congress to support fishery management by NMFS are shown in Chart 1. These are aggregate national figures, drawn from the agency budget. Operational support to the Pacific Council, including grants for development of the catch share program, is shown in Chart 2.

In Their Own Words

Although some of the quantitative data analyzed for this indicator exhibited clear trends, it was challenging to discuss the relationships between observed data trends and implementation of the respective catch share programs, especially in the Northeast. The Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares project team believed that those stakeholders most involved in the fishery, either as active participants or as representatives of an involved coalition of participants (e.g., sector managers in the Northeast), would be able to provide insight and help to explain trends seen in the existing quantitative data. The following quotes were selected to illustrate some of those perspectives and highlight trends such as effects on small vessels, the effect of avoiding “choke stocks,” fleet diversification, and product quality. The individual quotes do not represent findings or conclusions for this indicator, nor do they represent a consensus across any category of participants.

“What we’re doing now is the definition of insanity in my mind. It’s just doing more of the same or the same things over and over, trailing amendments, attempt to micromanage the fisheries through the Council process, and it’s going nowhere. These people are not business oriented. Maybe a few of them but not too many. And I think their intentions are good in many respects, but they just don’t understand.”
~ Processor

Analysis

Baseline: Before Catch Share Program

During the extended baseline, the Pacific Fishery Management Council and managers in the NMFS Northwest Regional Office received support for groundfish management activities through congressional appropriations, multi-year grants to support ongoing Council functions, and programmatic grants for specific work. Council deliberations explored interest in establishing a quota-based program, during the mid-1990s, but a moratorium on new catch share programs stopped consideration and public investments from 1997 through 2000. A major public investment in the fishery occurred in 2000, with an appropriation of $5 million in assistance as a response to a declared commercial fishery disaster (Disaster relief and other assistance).

Specific grants to the Pacific Council for development of the catch share program began in 2006. The first grant was “to allow continued progress on the development and analysis of the trawl individual quota program environmental impact statement.” During the baseline period, federal grants to the council for its operations varied from less than $3 million to $6 million in 2007. In that time, the Council received as part of its operating budget $1.42 million for costs related specifically to the Shorebased IFQ Program. In addition to regular appropriations for fishery management, Congress appropriated disaster relief to West Coast groundfish operations in 2000 and 2003 (Disaster Relief and Other Assistance ).

In addition to council activities, federal funding for NMFS activities in the Northwest Region (Merged with Southwest into Pacific Region as of 2013) are requested through the NOAA component of the Department of Commerce budget and approved by Congress. During the period reported, federal spending authority was provided by appropriations, transfers of money between budget lines, continuing resolutions to maintain funding levels, and line item add-ons by Congress. During the project baseline, in the absence of an appropriation to support development and implementation of the Shorebased IFQ, and in addition to amounts granted to the Council, NMFS expended more than $14 million in supporting its own activities related to the IFQ program development by using funds from other appropriated line items and programs (Appropriations and costs related directly to Pacific Shore-based ITQ).

Development of catch share programs also relied upon a variety of management actions funded in line items such as data collection, development and installation of vessel monitoring systems, socio-economic data collection, and data management systems. Funding for observers and for socio-economic data collection increased during the project baseline.

Though Congress did not enact any appropriations to implement catch share programs during the baseline period, NMFS supported the development of catch shares from other components of its budget. Activities identified in nationwide budget documents as public costs related to the development of catch shares include support of management teams, development of amendments or frameworks, required regulatory analyses, and support of the Council process. Development of catch share programs also relied upon a variety of management actions funded in alternative line items such as data collection, development and installation of vessel monitoring systems, socio-economic data collection, and data management systems. Funding for observers and for socio-economic data collection increased during the baseline period (See Chart 2).

During Catch Share Program

The cost of the transition to and implementation of the Shorebased IFQ is in part captured in the NOAA Fisheries Trawl Rationalization Program Cost Recovery Annual Report. Because this catch share program includes cost recovery, it is possible to understand incremental cost differences that represent the investment of managing the fishery under the rationalization program. However, costs represent the total costs incurred to manage the Pacific groundfish fishery, many of which are necessary regardless of whether the fishery is managed under the IFQ, or a different management regime (Appropriations and costs related directly to Pacific Shore-based ITQ).

Following catch-share implementation, both the Council and NMFS began to identify costs specifically related to the Shorebased IFQ Program as part of the development of the cost recovery program required by the MSA. These included work on trailing amendments, preparation of regulatory packages, creation of databases and computer applications, and issuing of permits and initial shares. Operational phase costs identified are enforcement, VMS tracking, adjustments to computer and accounting systems, and regulatory changes. In addition, the Shorebased IFQ Program required that observers be present on 100 percent of trips under the catch share program (Shorebased IFQ Program). This target represented a fivefold increase in observer coverage compared to the baseline period (Data Quality: Observer Coverage).

Grants to the Council from 2010 through 2016 provided for the costs of staff, meetings, and operations for the Council as a whole (managing nine fishery management plans). Though itemized costs are not broken out, the cost of activities related to the catch share program included improving fleet diversity, supporting sector management, promoting fishing business stability, addressing excessive shares, and implementing electronic monitoring, according to grant reports.

The amount of the Council’s operating budget identified to the Shorebased IFQ Program was $600,000 in FY2011, the same year Congress approved the first line item amount enacted to support the National Catch Share Program — $41.9 million. In subsequent years, Congress appropriated amounts averaging about $26.4 million annually. Congress enacted another disaster relief law, to enable those with loans from the buyback program to refinance payments, and appropriated funds for the measure in 2018 (Disaster Relief and Other Assistance ).

Data Gaps and Limitations

Public costs associated with development and implementation of the Shorebased IFQ Program are reported in a variety of sources but are not tracked by line item in the NMFS budget. Some are specified in Council grant documents. Although agency budget justifications call out numerous expenditures and activities related to catch share development and implementation, these costs are not identified by program to any of the 11 catch share systems in place during the project baseline, or the five additional programs that took effect from 2010 through early 2015. In January 2014, the Measuring Effects of Catch Shares Project submitted a data request to NOAA Fisheries to identify the amount of federal agency expenditures attributable to activities related to the Shorebased IFQ Program. In November 2016, NMFS provided data from FY2007 through FY2014. The data was provided in three categories, to capture portions of appropriations, as well as large Program, Project, Activity (PPA) funding lines directly related to the groundfish trawl program. These data are provided in the Appropriations and costs related directly to Pacific Shore-based ITQ as an enhancement to the aggregated national data in the charts. They could not be incorporated into the longer timeline because the fiscal years and the PPAs were not aligned in the same way. It was not possible to obtain information for FY2015 or FY2016 within the duration of the project.

Information Sources

Library of Congress. THOMAS Appropriations Committee Reports. Available online: thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app13.html

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Blue Books. 2002–2018. Available online: www.corporateservices.noaa.gov/nbo/

NOAA Fisheries. 2017. 82 Fed. Reg. 61753 (Dec. 29, 2017).

Pacific Fishery Management Council. 2018. Agenda Item F.4.a, Supplemental NMFS Report 2, April 2018. Available online: www.pcouncil.org/council-operations/council-meetings/past-meetings/

Pacific Fishery Management Council. 2017. Agenda Item F.12.a, NMFS Report, Trawl Rationalization Program Cost Recovery Annual Report, Calculation for 2017 and Fishing Year 2016 Payments, November 2017. Available online: www.pcouncil.org/council-operations/council-meetings/past-meetings/

Pacific Fishery Management Council. Briefing Book Archives: Budget Committee Reports 2002 – 2017. Available online: www.pcouncil.org/council-operations/council-meetings/past-meetings/

Pacific Fishery Management Council. Briefing Book Archives: Decisions March 2012. Available online: www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/0312decisions.pdf

U.S. Government Accounting Office. 2005. Individual Fishing Quotas: Management Costs Varied and Were Not Recovered as Required. GAO-05-241. March 2005.

Updated: June 2018

© 2018 MRAG Americas, Inc. All Rights Reserved.