October 27, 2008

Coastal Jobs Coalition Points to Federal Fisheries Management Analysis Revealing Flaw in Unbalanced Quota Plan

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), which will meet in San Diego November 3-7 to vote on a preferred alternative for an Individual Quota system, released a report detailing potential impacts of an unbalanced plan. The report, pointed out by the Coastal Jobs Coalition, analyzes the scenario of 100 percent quota share granted to harvesters and the negative effects it would likely have on coastal communities and jobs. Coastal ports and processing jobs throughout the West Coast would be at risk under this scenario, making the case for a compromised preferred alternative plan to be adopted by the Council.

According to the PFMC's analysis document, in a system allocating 100 percent quota to harvesters, it is likely that processors would be the "least well off under this scenario when compared to the other non-status quo scenarios." The report also identifies processing centers at the highest risk under this scenario, which include those located in: Astoria, Ore., and Bodega Bay, Eureka, Fort Bragg, Half Moon Bay, Hawaiian Gardens, Morro Bay, San Francisco, San Jose, Sand City, Santa Rosa, Scotts Valley and Watsonville, Calif.

The PFMC's analysis also states that in an unbalanced plan, "...the fact that the harvesting sector has control over the quota share means that the fishery is likely to be prosecuted in a manner that benefits harvesters." A 100 percent allocation to permit owners offers no incentive for harvesters to cooperate with processors who want to buy and market the fish. However, a shared quota system provides incentive for harvesters to work with processors who can enhance their available catch. Consequently, a shared market would provide some certainty and a better possible outcome for the industry as a whole, not just one sector.

Individual quotas grant each federal permit owner a dedicated share of the amount of available fish based on a formula emphasizing historical participation in the fishery. In June, the Council voted in favor of allocating 20 percent of quota shares to processors and 80 percent to harvesters. This preliminary vote reflects a compromise position that emerged over four years of debate, analysis, meetings, public comment and review. The Council's final decision in November will have a far-reaching impact on preserving the economic viability of coastal communities and jobs.

A shared market quota system would recognize that both processors and fishermen have invested heavily in coastal jobs and capital equipment, and it could protect current jobs in coastal communities, guarantee fair access to resources, stabilize prices for consumers, and encourage environmental stewardship. The seafood processing sector alone supports more than 11,000 jobs on the West Coast and contributes more than $36.5 million in annual payroll, as well as more than $20 million in annual utilities, plant supplies, and equipment purchase and repair to its local economies.

Industry leaders have been joined by restaurant owners, local businesses and citizens in keeping a balanced allocation at the forefront of discussions for the benefit of coastal jobs and communities, seafood customers, sustainability and the industry as a whole. A sampling of the list of stakeholders can be viewed at www.coastaljobs.org.

NOTE: To view a full copy of the PFMC's analysis report, "Decision Document for the Pacific Fishery Management Council's Groundfish Trawl Rationalization Plan", visit http://www.pcouncil.org/groundfish/gffmp/gfa20/gfa20decdoc.html. The scenario highlighted above is located in chapter four of the report, pages 423-426.

More about Supporting a Shared Market

For more information about the proposed groundfish and Pacific whiting regulations and their potential impact on coastal jobs and communities, visit www.coastaljobs.org.