NOAA Fisheries and the Regional Fisheries Management Councils announced a new policy on reviewing allocations within fishery management plans on a regular schedule, with each council encouraged to develop a plan for allocation review.
ACA President Richard Yamada and Executive Director Jim Martin participated in a national conference call hosted by NOAA staff on August 2nd to discuss NMFS Fisheries Allocation Review Policy. Allocation between recreational, commercial, subsistence users as well as various gear-based fishing sectors can be the most contentious decisions made by fishery managers. Often these discussions are avoided completely. NOAA is proposing a regular review, with triggers that cause a review of allocations and timetables for making decisions based on the needs of all sectors.
In the case of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, this means Pacific Halibut, where allocation has gradually shifted away from recreational anglers without sound justification or guidance.
The North Council is currently considering the Recreational Quota Entity (RQE), which will allow the compensated transfer of commercial halibut quota to guided recreational anglers, providing the opportunity to relax harvest restrictions and to increase bag limits.
If the RQE fails to be adopted or is hamstrung by too many restrictions that prevent it from achieving relief in a timely manner, the new Fisheries Allocation Policy creates a roadmap through the regulatory process to readjust allocations.
To read more about the new policy, follow these links: