History – ITQ or “ Defined Shares”
1) For reasons of safety at sea and market stability for commercial fishermen, DFO introduced an individual vessel quota system (IVQ) some years ago in which each license holder received a share of the Canadian Total Allowable Catch (TAC) based on the average of his/her landings over a previous number of years. However, instead of leasing these quotas to commercial license holders annually and thereby obtaining rent for commercial access to this public resource, the Minister of the day decided, without any consultation with the Sport Fishing Advisory Board (SFAB), to simply “gift” the entire Canadian share of the TAC to individual halibut fishermen as Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQ’s) who qualified under the landing criteria for their private use in perpetuity. At that time the halibut catch in the public fishery was assumed to be so low that it was simply ignored. Since our fishery was to be saved “harmless” in this change, there was no need to comment. Using ITQ’s, DFO has also gifted 100% of the Sablefish and Geoduc TAC to the commercial sector. Again, the sport catch of both species is such a small percentage of the TAC’s that it was, and still is, ignored.
2) By 2000, the commercial sector was concerned enough about the Public, Recreational Fishery, in their minds a re-allocation of their gifted quota, that they convinced DFO to strike a halibut allocation committee to establish a harvest sharing arrangement with our sector. The commercial harvesters wanted us capped at 5% of the TAC (at this time, we were unknowingly harvesting at least 7 or 8%) while we took the position that, since the resource was owned by the people of Canada, there should be no cap on the Public Fishery beyond reasonable bag/possession limits to prevent abuse of our right to harvest fish in tidal waters.
This stalemate was then turned over to an arbitrator for a decision and he recommended 9%. The DFO Minister of the day delivered an edict that capped public access to the resource at 12% of the TAC. At that time, DFO estimated our Recreational Sector was catching about 9% of the TAC, and their 12% decision, in their minds, gave us room for growth.
Minister Thibault also decided that part of the process in setting defined shares and fixed percentage allocation, any increase in catch requirements for the recreational sector beyond the 12% would have to be reached by the purchase of quota by the recreational sector from the commercial sector in a “market-based mechanism”
Unfortunately Minister Thibault, or his staff, failed to understand that the recreational community has no legal society or company, and therefore no means to raise or hold money, or purchase or lease anything.
Continue reading Halibut: The Executive Study