What Are Catch Shares?


Catch shares are a system within fisheries management that dedicates a secure share of fish to a fisherman, vessel, community, or fishery association. This share is allocated from a fishery stock’s annual catch limit (ACL)Annual catch limit (ACL): The limit of each stock that can be harvested by all vessels during each fishing year., which may change annually based on the assessed availability of the resource. Each recipient of a catch share is directly accountable to stop fishing when its exclusive allocation is reached. Catch shares are typically allocated based on historical participation in the fishery, although some programs set aside shares to allow new participants into the fishery.

One Tool for Fishery Management

The catch share approach is one tool in the fishery management toolbox. Catch shares may be useful for addressing certain types of management issues, but they may not be the best management option for every fishery.

Effects of Catch Shares in Different Fisheries

Because catch share programs typically differ greatly from the management systems they replace, they are likely to have different effects on the marine ecosystem and on the people connected economically and socially to the fishery. The purpose of the Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares project is to provide information about what those effects are in two U.S. catch share programs: the West Coast Shorebased IFQ Program and the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program.