Pacific Whiting Harvest:

Controversy Surrounding 1993 Allocation Between Processing Sectors

RCED-94-122: Published: May 10, 1994. Publicly Released: May 10, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Commerce's allocation of the 1993 Pacific whiting harvest between at-sea and shoreside processing sectors, focusing on: (1) whether the decisionmaking process complied with existing procedures and regulations; (2) whether the Pacific Fishery Management Council's allocation recommendation was adequately supported; (3) why the Secretary of Commerce's decision was made on the day before the allocation was to take effect, rather than earlier; and (4) the amount of nonwhiting fish caught during the whiting harvest.

GAO found that: (1) Commerce's allocation decision for the 1993 Pacific whiting harvest complied with federal decisionmaking procedures and fishery regulations; (2) the Secretary rejected the Council's allocation recommendation, which essentially reversed the actual 1992 allocation, due to inadequate support; (3) the Secretary allocated the 1993 Pacific whiting harvest to the two processing sectors in the same proportion as their 1992 shares; (4) the Secretary delayed its allocation decision until the day before the allocation's effective date because of the considerable deliberation of the Council's proposed major shift in the 1993 allocation between the two processing sectors; (5) only a few numbers of nonwhiting species were inadvertently caught during whiting harvest; and (6) the allocation decision for the Pacific whiting harvest for 1994 through 1996 proceeded more smoothly than the 1993 decision due to the involvement of the fishery sectors and their agreement with the Council's allocation recommendation which Commerce implemented.

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