The staff of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council has written an interesting discussion paper on the idea of dropping processor shares from the crab rationalization program.
Already lost? Let's review some history.
In August of 2005, the competition for Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands king and Tanner crab ended and we moved to a "rationalized" fishery. That is, fishermen received individual quotas to catch crab, and landings were apportioned by region.
The fisheries also were divided another way: among processors. Essentially, the established processors received buying rights, just as the existing fishermen received fishing rights.
While processors believe it's vital for their plant investments to have a guaranteed stream of crab deliveries, some fishermen and other critics hate processor shares as restraint of trade.
Anyway, there's my quick and no doubt inadequate overview of crab rationalization.
Now let's get back now to that discussion paper, titled "Extinguishing processor shares."
The paper was written at the request of the council, which is looking at the idea of dropping processor shares.
My aim today isn't to summarize the entire 16-page paper for you, but to spotlight one intriguing part: The idea that getting rid of processor shares might be a very involved and difficult thing to do.
Because crab rationalization without processor shares could be such a fundamental change that it "effectively creates a new limited access privilege program" as defined under the recently reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
The act requires the council to consider a host of issues before adopting a new LAPP.
"This includes respecification of the goals of the program, reconsideration of allocations (including allocations to small owner-operated vessels, fishing communities, and set asides for entry, captains, and crew), and the consideration of the auction of shares and the collection of royalties in the fisheries," the paper says.
Wow, can you imagine a whole new slugfest over who gets how much?
And auctions and royalties?
Anyway, Deckboss recommends you add this paper to your reading list.