Fisheries management

"Overfishing is a problem with far-reaching environmental and economic consequences," begins a Feb. 23 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the fourth in a series on fisheries management. This report concerns stakeholder participation in fishing quota decisions. "Stakeholders" here includes the states, vessel owners and crew, processors, fishing communities, environmentalists, consumers, and the public.

To curb overfishing and promote conservation, one of the management tools the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) uses is dedicated access privilege, DAP (pdf), programs. Under a DAP program, NMFS sets an allowable catch in a fishery and allocates portions to eligible parties, such as fishermen. Effective and equitable participation by stakeholders in quota decisions is critical but this participation may not be occurring. (NMFS is under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA.)

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (PL 94-265, codified as amended at 16 USC §§1801-1883) established eight regional fishery management councils to manage fisheries in federal waters. The councils develop fishery management plans, including DAP programs. Both NMFS and the councils are responsible for implementing DAP programs. GAO recommends that NMFS and the councils develop a framework for effective stakeholder participation. The report cites the Marine Resource Education Project (MREP) for its promising examples of cooperation, although the training may be costly and reach few stakeholders.

For this study, GAO reviewed four regional fishery management councils: the Gulf of Mexico, New England, North Pacific, and Pacific councils.

FISHERIES MANAGEMENT: Core Principles and a Strategic Approach Would Enhance Stakeholder Participation in Developing Quota-Based Programs, GAO-06-289
     Full report (pdf, 1MB, 55p.)
     Highlights (pdf, 60KB, 1p.)
     Abstract (html)

The three earlier reports in the series:

Individual Fishing Quotas: Management Costs Varied and Were Not Recovered as Required, GAO-05-241 (pdf, 616KB, 44p.), March 11, 2005

Individual Fishing Quotas: Methods for Community Protection and New Entry Require Periodic Evaluation, GAO-04-277 (pdf, 2.3MB, 51p.), Feb. 24, 2004

Individual Fishing Quotas: Better Information Could Improve Program Management, GAO-03-159 (pdf, 1.3MB, 56p.), Dec. 11, 2002

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