Overfishing may have significant environmental and economic consequences. One tool used to maintain fisheries at sustainable levels is the individual fishing quota (IFQ), which sets individual catch limits for eligible vessel owners or operators. This is GAO's third study on IFQ programs. For this study, GAO determined (1) the costs of managing (i.e., administering, monitoring, and enforcing) IFQ programs and how these costs differ from pre-IFQ management costs; (2) what, if any, IFQ management costs are currently being recovered by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS); and (3) ways to share the costs of IFQ programs between government and industry.
Matter for Congressional Consideration
|If the Congress would like NMFS to recover other than incremental costs, it may wish to clarify the IFQ cost recovery fee provision of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.||The Magnuson-Stevens Act was reauthorized and amended in January 2007. However, Congress made no change to the cost recovery fee provision for individual fishing quota and other limited access privilege programs to clarify that Congress would like the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to collect other than incremental costs. In November 2007, NMFS issued guidance to the fishery management councils stating that relevant costs to recover are the incremental costs.|
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Commerce||To comply with the cost recovery requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of NMFS to implement cost recovery for all IFQ programs.|
|Department of Commerce||To comply with the cost recovery requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of NMFS to develop guidance regarding which costs are to be recovered and, when actual cost information is unavailable, how to estimate these costs.|