The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has approved the first comprehensive review of the first halibut and sablefish individual fishing quota program since the IFQ program began 20 years ago.
Subsequent to finalization of the document, the council said it plans to reconstitute the IFQ Implementation Committee to provide recommendations to the council on potential future revisions to the IFQ program. The council asked current members of the IFQ committee to express their interest in continuing to serve, and the council is also soliciting nominations for new members, with membership intended to represent a broad range of stakeholders in the IFQ fisheries.
Nominations are due Nov. 11.
Based on findings from the IFQ program review, as well as discussion at the council meeting, several issues were identified for consideration by the IFQ Committee, ranging from the sweep-ups of small blocked quota share units, and the use of the medical lease provision to geographical distribution of new entrant quota ownership and the use of hired masters in the IFQ fisheries.
The new version of the IFQ Committee will be chaired by council member Buck Laukitis of Homer, Alaska. Laukitis, a commercial fisherman, is the former president of the North Pacific Fisheries Association.
Council economist Sarah Marrinan said the council hopes to receive a committee report responding to issues that stem from the program review at the NPFMC's February meeting in Seattle.
In other action, the council completed an initial review of a regulatory amendment package that would allow community development quota groups to lease halibut IFQ in Areas 4B, 4C and 4D in years of low halibut catch limits in regulatory areas 4B and 4CDE. In effect, the proposals would allow CDQ groups to lease halibut IFQ for use by residents on vessels less than 51 feet, subject to IFQ use regulations and the groups' internal management.