The Council hosted an evening outreach/listening session in Kodiak on Tuesday, June 5. More than 50 stakeholders – including Council members – attended to comment on opportunities to help the halibut and sablefish IFQ fishery continue to address the program’s objectives. The session was specifically focused on entry-level opportunities and rural participation. The Council received an in-meeting report on the themes and proposals that emerged from the session and initiated two staff discussion papers that will be reviewed by the IFQ Committee then forwarded to the Council with recommendations. The topics of those discussion papers are described below.
The emergent theme of the listening session was that stakeholders perceive a dramatic reduction in opportunities to participate in the fishery that has occurred in the course of a single generation. Both entry-level fishermen and residents of remote Kodiak Island communities identified the following barriers to entry: high quota prices, high investment risk given trends in halibut stock abundance, an unfavorable lending environment, and a low-volume quota share (QS) market. As a result, young fishermen have little incentive to work or invest in the fishery relative to other opportunities, thus reducing the ready supply of physical capital (gear) and human capital (experience) when opportunities to enter the fishery do emerge. Three of the potential avenues for action identified in the meeting summary include: taxing QS transfers to create a quota pool for qualified participants; breaking up “blocks” of QS to make more small lots available on the transfer market; and establishing mechanisms to promote intergenerational transfer of QS within rural communities. Those and other proposals are further described in the aforementioned meeting summary, including rationale in opposition.
The first discussion paper tasked by the Council will scope mechanisms to promote the transfer of QS from initial QS issuees (those who use hired masters) to skippers/crew. The mechanisms to explore include, but are not limited to, a right of first offer (ROFO) similar to the one in place for Bering Sea crab cooperatives and possible modifications to the Federal loan program. The second discussion paper will review existing program outside of the North Pacific that facilitate fishery access. One example of such a program is Norway’s Recruitment Quota program. The paper will consider such program’s efficacy in their own context as well as their applicability to the North Pacific. Staff contact is Sam Cunningham.