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

September 6, 2016 Proposed Rule: Amendment for Electronic Monitoring in two sectors of the limited entry trawl fishery

March 3, 2016 Notice of intent to prepare an EIS for gear changes in the Trawl Catch Share Program and public notice 

December 21, 2015 Trawl Rationalization Program: 2015 Year-End and Gearing Up for 2016 133kb

December 21, 2015 Workshop Steering Committee announces 3rd Pacific Groundfish Quota Program Workshop, February 16-18th in Portland, Oregon 408kb

December 14, 2015  Clarifying changes to regulations pertaining to vessels using midwater trawl gear in the Shorebased IFQ Program, effective January 13, 2016.

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