Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Seine ITQ Fishery in Area 4 Skeena

Some folks might have noticed with alarm that we mentioned seiners would be open for 4 consecutive days in Area 4 this week. Believe us we were also surprised, but have since learned more about this Demonstration Fishery for the seiners. It is called an ITQ or Individual Transferable Quota Demonstration Fishery.

For this Demo Fishery the 107 seine licenses divided up a Total Allowable Catch, or TAC, of 53,500 sockeye and 107,000 pinks. This works out to 500 sockeye and 1000 pink salmon per license for the week. They have 4 days to catch that quota. If they catch it prior to the 4 days, they are done and must return to port. The weekly quota does not carry over to the next is caught or not....and the next week starts with new fish numbers in the quota.

While at first we must admit to alot of trepidation seeing seiners fish continually for 4 days ( and possibly longer if they behave according to DFO) in the Skeena rivermouth area, after some reflection, this has the potential ( heavy emphasis on 'potential') to be a beneficial way to fish. But, for this fishery to succeed the seiners must be on their best behaviour and follow the long shopping list of regulations properly.; the enforcement presence must be enough to garner strong compliance within the fleet; and independant observers must be aboard to verify everything goes according to plan. If none of that occurs, this could end up being just a seiner free-for-all in the Skeena rivermouth at the worst possible time for steelhead and weak salmon stocks....
Next post on ITQ's we will present some pros and cons from a variety of sources.


Anonymous said...

ITQs are the best way to allocate fishing time and fish stocks. They have been used in New Zealand with success. Of course, there has to be good enforcement to ensure that netters do not exceed their quotas. And the penalties for breaking quota have to be substantial, including loss of license, as well as reducing the quotas of the other people fishing by the amount of overage - this gives everybody an incentive to monitor each other.

All in all, though, it is definitely a move in the right direction.

westslope said...

Well enforced quotas over a longer period of time are preferable to tight first-come, first-serve time and area openings.

However, ideally none of the crew or the owners should be elegible for employment insurance income top ups. I'll bet they still are.

Paul Holden said...

The other important thing is that ITQs must be transferable. Fisherman holding them must be able to sell them