West Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program

In 2011, NOAA Fisheries implemented a new management system for the West Coast Groundfish Trawl Fishery. The new framework, known as a catch shares system, transforms how groundfish are harvested off the West Coast. The trawl catch share program, also called the trawl rationalization program, consists of an Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) program for the shorebased trawl fleet and cooperative programs for the at-sea mothership and catcher/processor trawl fleets.

Under this system, fishermen in the trawl fleet no longer depend on a single, fleet-wide quota to determine how many fish can be sustainably harvested. This traditional model encouraged fishermen to compete with each other to catch as many fish as possible before the fleet's allocation was met and the fishery closed. The new catch shares system divides the total amount of an overall allowable catch or quota into shares controlled by individual fishermen or groups of fishermen (cooperatives). These shares can be harvested at the fishermen's discretion, ideally more efficiently and at more profitable marketing times.

Catch shares are designed to benefit both fish and fishermen. The program holds fishermen accountable for their deliberate catch as well as bycatch. This means that all fish harvested are deducted from the fisherman's personal quota or the pooled quota (cooperatives), including fish that are discarded.

Recent Announcements & Publications

February 17, 2015:  NOAA Fisheries is exploring changes to the season opening date in the Shorebased IFQ Program for the midwater trawl fisheries.

December 24, 2014:  2014 Year-end and gearing up for 2015: fishing into the new year; cost recovery; quota pound and quota share transfers, etc. NMFS-SEA-14-29 pdf format 163kb

December 17, 2014:  NOAA Fisheries announces continuation of pass-through of Adaptive Management quota pounds for 2015 and reinstates NMFS' ability to issue quota pounds on January 1 even if final harvest specifications are not known by January 1.

December 2, 2014:  NOAA Fisheries announces changes to chafing gear regulations, effective January 1, 2015.