July 10, 2002
(10 July, 2002 — Washington) Environmental Defense today praised the House Resources Committee for voting to lift the current moratorium that prohibits regional fishing councils from adopting the use of new Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQs).

“In light of recent crises in both the New England and West Coast fisheries, it is imperative that regional councils have the option to use quota-based management systems as a way to help protect and preserve fish stocks and to assist commercial fisherman,” said Johanna Thomas, deputy director of Environmental Defense’s oceans program. “IFQs have a proven track record of providing environmental benefits while also increasing sustainability and safety for those who depend on the ocean’s bounty for their livelihood.”

Since 1996, a ban has been in place that prevents the nation’s regional fishery councils from adopting any new IFQ programs. The moratorium on the use of quotas is set to expire on October 1, 2002. Lifting the restriction will not require councils to adopt IFQs but will provide each council with the option to use this important management tool.

“The House Resources Committee today acknowledged that individual quotas are an important option for the management of the nation’s commercial fisheries,” Thomas said. “Under a quota-based system boat captains don’t have to choose profits over safety, more fresh fish is available for consumers and fish stocks can be maintained at a sustainable level.”

While Environmental Defense supports the use of IFQs, improvements must still be made in the bill to maximize future effectiveness. These include standards to help councils design IFQ programs that are equitable and consistent with community and conservation interests; allowing the issuance of “individual quotas” to harvest a quantity of fish, but not authorizing a separate quota program for processing fish; removing the requirement that the regional councils hold referenda before considering the development of an IFQ program; and providing regional councils with the ability to limit the duration of IFQ programs and to recommend eligibility requirements, consolidation limits and cost recovery fees.