Sara Randall ‘12 Awarded Funding to Research Canadian Catch Share Programs

Sara RandallThis past fall, Sara Randall (M.A. Global Policy/ International Environmental Policy ’12) began researching Canadian catch share programs under a Canadian-American Center Fellowship. This fellowship gives Sara the opportunity to explore the Canadian catch share fisheries management process with the hope that lessons learned from Canada can inform US fisheries management; Canada has 30 years of experience with catch share programs.

Catch share programs privatize the fish resource by awarding certain fishermen dedicated rights to a percentage of the yearly Total Allowable Catch (TAC). Sara has been examining a certain aspect of Canada’s groundfish catch share system that was created to mitigate the negative effects of catch shares, such as consolidation and social inequality, on small-scale fishing villages in the Scotia- Fundy region of Atlantic Canada. The region’s groundfish communities have been split into 11 Community Management Boards (CMBs) that are allocated a certain percentage of Atlantic Canada’s groundfish TAC. The allocations are based on each community’s catch history from 1986 to 1993.

One community board in particular, the Fundy Fixed Gear Council (FFGC) of Digby county, rejected the concept of catch shares and have instead instituted a form of community-based management that allocates quotas for the three gear-type fleets to fish competitively. Weekly limits as well as trip limits are managed for the gillnet, handline, and longline small boat fleets by FFGC volunteers to ensure the Council does not exceed the TAC set by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The FFGC’s goal is to keep as many of the small fishing businesses in the community operating under the TAC to ensure the social, environmental and economic health of the community.

Sara is using this research to supplement her previous semester’s assistantship with Dr. Teresa Johnson of the School of Marine Sciences. That research project looks at the recent implementation of catch shares in the New England Groundfish fishery and how catch shares affect the small-scale fishing communities in eastern Maine. These fishing communities are of special concern because under the current sector they no longer have rights to access groundfish. Examining the impacts of Canada’s catch share programs, specifically the community-based management system of the FFGC, offers insight into broader catch share design questions. This Canadian research contributes significantly to the current need for designing catch share programs that preserve small-scale, fishery-dependent communities.