Are Catch Shares on the Rise in U.S. Fisheries?

by Shawn Regan

Today the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a policy advancing the use of catch share programs in U.S. fishery policy. Catch shares are a form of rights-based fisheries management that allocates a portion of the total allowable catch to individuals, cooperatives, or other entities — an approach PERC has advocated for many years.

The Environmental Defense Fund, which has partnered with PERC in promoting rights-based fishing, explains why this policy is welcome relief for marine fisheries:

For too long the government has propped up a failed system of ocean fishery management. Conventional management has resulted in shrinking fishing seasons, fishery closures, and increased waste.  Fishermen are faced with burdensome and ineffective regulations. Because of this today’s fishing jobs are dangerous, part-time, and relatively unstable, and more than 60 federal fish stocks are classified as overfished or undergoing overfishing. Rebuilt fisheries could increase the dockside value of commercially-caught fish by $2.2B (54% above current value) in the US.

Catch shares management is the right approach because it improves the conservation of the fishery, drives economic growth, and empowers fishermen to have stable, profitable businesses. Unlike conventional management, which manages the details of how fishermen conduct their business, catch shares provide fishermen with flexibility — allowing them to be more targeted and efficient. This means overfishing ends, wasteful bycatch declines, and revenues increase.

The NOAA policy will make it easier to adopt rights-based fisheries management programs in the future — a change that could not happen too soon. Recent research warns that all of the world’s fisheries could collapse in 40 years and that catch shares have the power to stop or reverse this collapse.

About 275 fisheries around the world have implemented catch share systems, including 25 in the U.S. However, at a global level, less than 2% of the world’s fisheries have adopted such rights-based management.


  1. Steve Moore says:

    Stay away from the table that you have never been invited to. Your reasons for encouraging catch shares are outdated and false. Tell the truth and let the public know that your real reasons for promoting catch shares is to encourage corporate wealth. Did you not see the results of the Federal elections. Americans want jobs, not policies that eliminate them. Yours and ED’s push for catch shares imply that you who do not fish are smarter than those of us who do. You are an embarrassment to all of the small boat fisherman who bring a public resource to the public through hard work and dedication. The current laws are not always easy to follow but they are a far cry better than what you are suggesting. A push for good science and data may be an honorable thing to do, yet if you knew the truth it would really derail your project. Fortunately you have “Sweet Jane” diverting money from science and using it to implement catch shares. You and ED and the likes of you really just need to shut up and do something that you know about . Maybe tightening down on the oil company’s that support you.

  2. Great news! Shame that there are so many Steve Moores out there who think that just because they have a fishing boat they have the right to decide fishery policies, while those of us who do not should stay out of it.

    • Steve Moore says:

      Yes you are absolutely right. You should keep your nose out of where it does not belong, especially if you get your information from PERC and ED. You obviously have no clue as to what is really going on on the ocean. How does privatizing fish stocks make anything better. Read carefully what I said above and show me where I am wrong. These people have an agenda and it does not include the hard working fisherman in existence today or those who would like to participate in this honorable industry in the future