HTML _ 95-849 - Individual Transferable Quotas in Fishery Management
25-Nov-1995; Eugene Buck; 23 p.

Abstract: An individual transferable quota (ITQ) is an allocated privilege of landing a specified portion of the total annual fish catch in the form of quota shares. This differs from the traditional open-access approach to commercial fisheries. ITQs divide the total annual catch quota into smaller individual portions. ITQs are generally transferable, which means fishing vessel owners can sell their ITQ certificates or buy others' certificates or, in some cases, lease their quota shares depending on how much (or whether) they want to participate in the fishery. ITQs are not considered property, but a privilege to catch a share of the total allowable catch of fish or shellfish in a given year. The initial allocation criteria for ITQs are controversial decisions established by Regional Fishery Management Councils, usually based on the historical catch of vessels, to benefit current active fishing vessel owners. Currently, three Federal ITQ programs operate in the United States -- for surf clam and ocean quahog in Mid-Atlantic and New England waters; for wreckfish along the South Atlantic coast; and for halibut and sablefish off Alaska. Internationally, New Zealand introduced the first major ITQ program in 1986. Other countries with ITQ management programs include Australia, Canada, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, and South Africa. ITQ programs are intended to reduce overcapitalization, promote conservation of stocks, improve market conditions, and promote safety in the fishing fleet. ITQ programs guarantee a share of the catch, thus generally slowing or eliminating the ¨race to fish'' and allowing fishermen flexibility over the rate and timing of their fishing. ITQ programs have been criticized for increasing the incentive for fishermen to file false catch reports and to ¨high-grade¨ their catch. In some cases, it is also possible for processors or wholesalers to obtain effective monopoly control over the landings. ITQs could discourage new entrants into a fishery because of the additional capital investment required to purchase or lease quota shares. In addition, ITQ programs may require additional enforcement expense and could cause substantial unemployment and socioeconomic dislocation in coastal communities. Finally, the equity of current approaches to initial allocation of ITQ shares is questioned for their creation of wealth and windfall profits and their exclusion of processors and crew. Knowledge and understanding of ITQ programs is evolving rapidly and much is being learned. Many of the early problems with ITQs resulted from program design and may not be inherent in the concept of ITQ management. However, analysis of ITQ program implementation is scant, to date. ITQ programs have generated substantial concerns, but how much of that criticism will prove valid and how much of the benefits claimed by proponents might be realized is still to be determined. [read report]

Topics: Marine

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