• Retrospective analysis of the Alaska halibut and sablefish individual fishing quota fisheries comparing the program with the anticipated outcomes and other limited entry fisheries

      Kotlarov, Alexander; Criddle, Keith; Greenberg, Joshua; Felthoven, Ronald; Naald, Brian Vander (2020-05)
      The Alaska Halibut and Sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) program is one of the largest and most successful catch share programs of the United States and the world. It has been successful in maintaining the economic value and owner-operated characteristics of these fisheries for the past 25 years. While most of the federal fisheries off Alaska have already transitioned to catch-share management systems, the development of new catch share programs for other regions could benefit from lessons learned in the development and evolution of the Alaska halibut and sablefish IFQ program. One of the main concerns of the policymakers with implementing an IFQ program was the potential loss of halibut and sablefish QS held by residents of remote communities in the Central Gulf of Alaska and the Southeast Alaska regions and the resultant long-term social changes. That concern remains, along with a related concern about perceived financial barriers to entry the Alaska Halibut and Sablefish IFQ program. The resilience of fishery-dependent communities depends on the state of the available fish resources as well as the extent to which community residents are vested in the fishery through ownership of limited license permits and quota share. This thesis consists of five chapters. The first is an overall introduction, which summarizes the entire thesis, and the final chapter is an overview conclusion of the research that was conducted. The three central chapters review the history of the fishery, gauge stakeholder attitudes about aspects of the program, and explore limitations to the successful adoption of measures intended to empower community engagement in these fisheries. Chapter 2 describes the evolution of the Alaska region Pacific halibut and sablefish fisheries over the past 139 years. This history can be divided into seven eras, each characterized by unique opportunities, challenges, and management innovations. The chapter shows that fluctuations in fish populations have been influenced by the interplay of management actions and environmental variation. The third chapter is a survey of Pacific Halibut and Sablefish Quota Share (QS) holders. This survey gathered information on crewmembers and operating costs in the Alaska halibut and sablefish fisheries. The results indicate that, on smaller vessels in certain areas, crewmembers tend to be drawn from the local region. In comparison, the crewmembers on larger vessels that fish in more remote areas tend to be drawn from outside those fishing areas. Results also indicate that residents of small fishing communities in remote areas had difficulty in obtaining financing to purchase QS for halibut and sablefish. In contrast, residents of larger communities expressed less concern about access to financing for QS purchases. The fourth chapter focuses on the evolution of the Alaska halibut and sablefish IFQ program. The impacts on the small communities following the transitions from open- to limited-access or share-based management were negative for some communities and positive for other communities. Over the past 16 years, several programs have been established to benefit fishery-dependent communities. Chapter 4 provides an overview of community-support measures developed for these fisheries and describes similar programs created for other Alaska region fisheries. These programs are not being fully utilized. In order to build their local fleets, communities need to increase cooperation and coordination to establish quota. Chapter 4 establishes a "roadmap" for sustaining and rebuilding community-based fisheries in Alaska. It requires the community to focus on its cooperative goals to enable them to take advantage of the community support measures included in fisheries regulation. There seems to be more interest in the younger generation in Alaska wanting to get involved in commercial fisheries. Evidence includes the popularity of the apprenticeship program developed by the Alaska Longline Association in Sitka and the keen interest in the annual Alaskan Young Fishermen Summit hosted by the Alaska Sea Grant. Rural communities could encourage the development of the next generation of fishermen by nurturing their youth's interest in fisheries and reestablishing their cultural heritage. This could be done by using the Federal halibut special permits for Ceremonial, Celebration, and Education fisheries. These permits are free and require a minimal amount of paperwork through the NOAA Fisheries Restricted Access Management program. The State of Alaska also has an educational permit program that is currently underutilized but has been successfully used in the past. Reestablished of these programs in local schools could foster youth's interest in their cultural heritage in fisheries. The positive outcome of this research is the information provided for rural communities to engage in more opportunities to generate fishing income for their community. Communities could have a real opportunity to bring commercial fisheries back into their rural areas. If the communities can navigate through all the regulations, it could provide a positive economic stimulus for the next generation of youth in their communities.