Did the efficiency of fisheries management change?
Short Answer: Since implementation of the Shorebased IFQ Program, the Pacific Fishery Management Council has spent less time debating and approving management measures.
- The development of the IFQ program required intense upfront investments of time by the council and fishery stakeholders in the years preceding implementation.
- Since 2011, the time spent by the Council on groundfish measures has fallen from nearly half to less than 10 percent.
- Similarly, the proportion of federal rulemaking on groundfish management was cut in half after implementation of the IFQ.
Interactive Chart Story
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 as an indicator of time required to manage the fishery. The “actions” used to develop the metric were decisions related to development of the Shorebased IFQ Program that the Council voted upon, approved, adopted, decided, recommended. Appointments, meeting notices, and general rules are not included. In-season adjustments and agency actions noticed in the federal register are used as a proxy for NMFS time spent.
Baseline: Before 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 groupwas 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.
During Catch Share Program
With approval 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 Amendments that created the program. Numerous trailing actions were implemented through 2017, including allocation issues, a cost recovery program (Private Cost of Management), clarifying actions, and responses to litigation. The Council completed a five-year review of the program in 2017.
At the conclusion of the sixth year of the program, groundfish decision-making took up slightly more than 30 percent of the Council’s actions on an annual basis, and the IFQ program actions represented 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) have remained below 10 percent from 2011 through 2016.
This indicator uses actions as a proxy for the amount of time the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the New England Fishery Management Council, and the National Marine Fisheries Service spent managing the respective fisheries. Actions related to groundfish management taken by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the New England Fishery Management Council, and regulatory actions by the National Marine Fisheries Service published in the Federal Register serve as proxies for time spent managing the respective fisheries. Council actions included in the analysis were limited to those identified as “approve,” “adopt,” “vote,” “decide,” or “recommend.” A comparison of actions taken for all managed fisheries over time is compared to actions taken for groundfish management to determine proportions of time spent managing groundfish. Actions taken for catch share management in the respective groundfish fisheries are examined as a subset of all groundfish management actions to isolate the proportion of time dedicated to developing and managing the catch share programs. Rule-making, as recorded by notices of FMP amendments, openings, closures, and adjustments to catch limits, provides the proxy for time spent by NMFS regional office staff (at the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office and the West Coast Regional Office). Interviews and text analysis provided additional information in support of observed data on management time.
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.
Federal Register. 2002 – 2017. NOAA Rules for Pacific Groundfish FMP. Available online: https://www.federalregister.gov/
Pacific Fishery Management Council. 2018. Meeting briefing books, minutes, agendas. 2002 – 2018. Available online at: https://www.pcouncil.org/groundfish/background/document-library/
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