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Catch Shares

"Catch shares" is a general term associated with several fisheries management strategies that dedicate a secure share of fish to individual fishermen, cooperatives, or fishing communities for their exclusive use. This term includes Limited Access Privilege Programs (LAPP) and individual fishing quotas (IFQs). The first catch share program in the United States was implemented in 1990 in the Mid-Atlantic Surf Clam and Ocean Quahog Fishery. Currently, there are 16 catch share programs across the United States managed by six regional fishery management councils (councils). Additional programs are under development.

In the United States and worldwide, catch shares are beneficial in a number of ways including:
  • Ensuring annual catch limits are not exceeded
  • Reducing the costs to produce seafood
  • Reducing market gluts and increasing dockside prices
  • Extending fishing seasons
  • Reducing bycatch
  • Improving fishermen’s safety
Catch share programs are just one management option councils can choose to meet their management objectives. Catch shares are not required or appropriate for every fishery. NOAA Fisheries will provide technical and administrative support to councils and stakeholders wishing to consider, design, and/or implement a catch share program for their fishery.
Catch Share Policy
Guiding Principles
Identify specific management goals
Ensure fair and equitable allocations
Promote flexibility and access via transferability
Acknowledge distinctions among sectors
Define duration of program
Promote fishing community sustainability
Consider royalty provisions
Implement cost recovery
Track performance and conduct periodic reviews