Among the problems associated with catch share programs is that it tends to promote consolidation of the fishing fleet into the larger boats, as smaller day boats have a more difficult time turning a profit in the new system. The reasons for this are many and they are complex. One approach to addressing this problem is through establishing permit banks, which are a collection of fishing permits that can be held by a private or governement entity. Today, Michael Pentony from NOAA presented the current permit bank program that allows Northeastern states to hold a permit bank. Six million dollars were given to these states to establish permit banks; 3 million to Maine, and 1 million each to Massachussetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. This money is intended to be used to purchase fishing permits that will provide quota that can then be leased out to fishermen at a reduced cost. Theoretically, this will prevent consolidation by providing more fish quota to smaller boats. Maine has already bought permits and sold quota to fishermen, while NH, MA, and RI are still organizing their programs. But will this help smaller boats compete with larger boats that can have higher fish allocations and more resources for purchasing quota? Only time will tell.
For more information on Catch shares, visit www.nmfs.noaa.gov/catchshares