Supplement - Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for Amendments 42/42 to the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Groundfish FMP and the Gulf of Alaska Groundfish FMP
Amendments 42/42 contain management measures applicable to the Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program for Fixed Gear Pacific Halibut and Sablefish Fisheries In and Off of Alaska.
During the first year of fishing under the IFQ Program in 1995, IFQ fishermen and their representatives reported to the Council that the prohibition against using or transferring QS across vessel categories limited their ability to improve the profitability of their operations. Many fishermen reported that they had received QS that represented far fewer pounds than their recent catch history prior to the IFQ program. Small boat fishermen reported the scarcity of medium- and large-size QS blocks greater than or equal to 5,000 lb (2.3 mt) available to smaller vessels. They requested that the Council enable them to purchase shares from QS holders in larger vessel size categories. Also, category B vessel operators reported difficulties in using or marketing small category B blocks. They requested the opportunity either to downsize operations or to sell smaller QS blocks to owners of smaller vessels.
These amendments address the above concerns by allowing QS initially assigned to a larger vessel category to be used on smaller vessels, while continuing to prohibit the use of QS or its associated IFQ assigned to smaller vessel categories on larger vessels. QS will continue to be assigned to vessel categories by existing criteria at § 679.40(a)(5)(i)-(v) and will retain original vessel category assignments. However, halibut and sablefish QS and their associated IFQ assigned to vessel category B can be used on vessels of any size. Halibut QS assigned to vessel category C likewise can be used on vessels of categories C and D. The regulations continue to prohibit the use of QS and IFQ on vessels larger than the maximum LOA of the category to which the QS was originally assigned.
This rule does not apply to halibut in IFQ regulatory areas 2C or to sablefish east of 140 deg. W.long. Halibut QS assigned to vessel category B in IFQ regulatory areas 2C and sablefish QS east of 140 deg. W. long. are prohibited from use on vessels less than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA except in QS blocks equivalent to less than 5,000 lb (2.3 mt) based on the 1996 Total Allowable Catch.