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

November 4, 2015  Process for divestiture of excess quota share in the Shorebased IFQ Program, effective November 4, 2015.

April 21, 2015:  Changes to observer and catch monitor regulations, including updated observer safety requirements and permitting for providers, effective May 21, 2015.

April 9, 2015:  Shorebased IFQ Program midwater trawl season north of 40°30' N. lat. opens May 15, 2015.