Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Individual Transferable Quota Fishery

September 03, 2019

2019 Cost Recovery Cage Tag Fees

We are announcing the 2019 cost recovery fees for cage tags used in the Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog individual transferable quota (ITQ) program. These fees will be used to recover costs associated with the operation of the 2018 ITQ program. The fees apply to ITQ permit holders that received an initial allocation of cage tags at the start of 2019 (i.e., quota share). The initial quota shareholder who first received the allocation of cage tags is responsible for the fee for each tag used to land clams or quahogs, even for tags that are leased, sold, or otherwise used by someone else. Cost recovery bills based on these cage tag fees will be sent in early 2020 based on the number of cage tags used during the 2019 fishing year. Shareholders will have 30 days from the bill date to submit payment. Late payment may be subject to administrative fees and/or interest charges as required by federal law.

We have calculated the fee for each cage tag based on the number of ITQ cage tags that were used to land surfclams or ocean quahogs during the 2018 fishing year, and the costs associated with operating the program in 2018. These fees are separate from, and in addition to, the price ITQ permit holders currently pay to the tag vendor to obtain cage tags each year.

2019 Cost Recovery Per-Cage Tag Fees

Atlantic Surfclam


Ocean Quahog



Frequently Asked Questions

Why are you collecting fees from this fishery?

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires us to collect the “actual costs directly related to the management, data collection, and enforcement” of any limited access privilege program, such as the surfclam and ocean quahog ITQ.

Don’t we already pay a fee per cage tag?

The cost to purchase the physical tags from the vendor at the start of the year is separate and is not affected by this cost recovery fee.

How did you calculate these fees?

We divided the 2018 direct program costs by the total number of tags used in 2018. For Atlantic surfclams this was $60,627.92 and 66,038 cage tags, and for ocean quahogs this was $54,936.12 and 99,860 cage tags.

Why is the tag fees higher than last year?

The total costs of managing the surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries vary from year to year depending on the exact amount of staff time spent on specific management tasks that are considered eligible for cost recovery.

Does the Magnuson-Stevens Act Limit these fees?

The Magnuson-Stevens Act limits cost recovery fees to no more than 3 percent of the ex-vessel value of the fishery. The actual incremental costs in 2018 represent just under 0.2 percent of the ex-vessel value for the surfclam fishery ($29,968,694) and just over 0.2 percent for the ocean quahog fishery ($25,113,492). 

What if I have ITQ quota share for both surfclam and ocean quahog?

We treat the surfclam and ocean quahog ITQ fisheries separately for cost recovery. Each fishery has a different per-tag fee, and separate bills will be sent for each fishery. 

What if you collect more or less money than you expected?

If we collect more or less than the incremental costs of the surfclam and ocean quahog ITQ program, we will apply the difference when setting the per-tag fee in the following year. This is the first year we have had to make such an adjustment to the recoverable costs.

What if I sell my quota share?

If you were allocated surfclam or ocean quahog cage tags at the start of the 2019 fishing year, you are responsible for any cost recovery fee that results if those tags are used to land surfclams or ocean quahogs at any time during the year. This applies even if you lease the tags or permanently transfer your quota share allocation to someone else.

How do I pay my bill?

Instructions for payment will be included in the bill. All payments will be made through the website using either a credit card or the account number and routing number from a bank account.


For small entity compliance guides, this bulletin complies with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement and Fairness Act of 1996. This notice is authorized by the Regional Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, Greater Atlantic Region.

Last updated by Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office on September 03, 2019