Limited Access Privilege (LAP) Program for the South Atlantic Snapper Grouper Fishery?

At its December 2006 Council meeting in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council voted to explore a Limited Access Privilege (LAP) Program as a possible management tool for the Snapper Offloading-web.gifGrouper Fishery. The resources below provide additional background information on LAP Programs These include Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQs), Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs), Community Quotas, and quotas held by Regional Fishing Associations.

Limited Access Privilege Programs and Potential Application to the South Atlantic Grouper Fishery -- This presentation provides the fishery stakeholders, managers, and the public with basic information about Limited Access Privilege (LAPs) Programs, a description of potential benefits and drawbacks of this management tool, and an example of what a multispecies LAP Program might look like and how it may affect the South Atlantic snapper grouper fishery. The presentation also provides a summary of how other multispecies fisheries have used LAP Programs.

The recently reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Act, the primary legislation outlining national fishery policy, contains language supporting creation of Limited Access Privilege Programs for fisheries and provides specific guidelines and requirements for implementation of such programs. The presentation below (PDF) contains a summary of these requirements:
Limited Access Privileges (LAPs) and the Reauthorized M-S Act


What are Limited Access Privilege Programs?

Limited Access Privilege (LAP) or Dedicated Access Privilege (DAP) programs, in general, refer to the same thing. These terms have recently been used in place of the terms IFQ and ITQ since these new terms encompass allocation of a portion of the TAC or commercial quota to communities and groups of individuals. LAP Programs are limited access systems whereby federal permits are issued to harvest a quantity of fish representing a portion of the TAC.  LAPs may be distributed to individuals, communities, and held by Regional Fishing Associations.

Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) refers to a fishery management program that allows an individual or entity the privilege to harvest a percentage of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC). For our purposes, TAC would likely refer to the commercial quota.

Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) is an IFQ program that allows individual quota to be transferred from one person or entity to another. That is, the owner of the individual quota can sell his quota to another person permanently or lease his quota to another person for a temporary period of time. There are often restrictions on who can purchase or lease individual quota. For example, in order to purchase quota, it may be required that an individual or entity own a permit for the relevant fishery.

Community Quota is quota allocated to communities located within the Council management area that consist of residents that are dependent on fisheries for their livelihood.  In order for communitites to participate in LAPs they must meet certain eligibility and participation criteria specified in the reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Act.

Regional Fishery Associations (RFA) can receive harvest privileges if the RFA is a voluntary association with established bylaws and operating procedures and consists of participants in the fishery who hold LAP share.  RFAs can include commercial or recreational fishing businesses, processing businesses, fishery-dependent support businesses or fishing communities.  In order to harvest privileges a RFA must meet eligibility and participation criteria laid out in the reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Act.  RFAs cannot recieve an inital allocation of LAPs.  However, they may acquire such privileges after initial allocation.

How do they work?

A percentage of the TAC is allocated to each qualifying individual, business entity or community when the LAP program is implemented. Allocation has been accomplished in several different ways within the U.S. and in other countries. The allocation formula usually includes the historical landings associated with a Holding-Amberjack-Web.gifpermit or vessel, but also could include other considerations such as allocating a portion of the quota equally among qualifying fishermen.

The percentage of the TAC allocated to an individual is called the “share”. The share multiplied by the TAC for a particular year is called the “annual pounds.” In many cases, once allocation takes place, it is expensive for individuals or entities that were not originally allocated quota to enter the fishery. For this reason, a special program often is designed with a small amount of quota set aside for distribution to or purchase by new entrants and/or non-qualifying small-scale fishermen (those with landings too small to be allocated quota).

LAP programs usually are designed so that individuals, entities or communities are allocated quota for particular species. In this way, fishery managers can better and more easily manage species with small Maximum Sustainable Yields (MSYs) and TACs.

There is no single way to design a LAP program. In general, LAP programs are designed to serve the needs of the particular fishery and the communities they support. The Magnuson Stevens Act (MSA) requires consideration of certain factors and features by a regional fishery management council. For example, the MSA provides an upper limit on a cost recovery fee to pay for administrative and enforcement costs under a LAP program, and guidance on how to specify the maximum percentage of LAP an entity, individual or community can own.

Where have LAP programs been used?

No LAP programs have been implemented yet under the reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Act.  However, IFQ/ITQ programs have been implemented in U.S. federal waters in the Alaska halibut and sablefish fisheries, the south Atlantic wreckfish fishery, and the mid-Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog fishery.  IFQ/ITQ or LAP programs are currently being developed and/or implemented in the Gulf of Mexico red snapper and grouper fisheries, Alaska groundfish trawl fishery, and the Pacific trawl groundfish fishery. Internationally, IFQ/ITQ programs have been implemented in several fisheries in Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, and Australia as well as several other places.

Why implement a LAP program?

Possible benefits of LAPs include:

  • Ending derby fishing in fisheries where a derby exists prior to implementation of a LAP program;
  • Increasing flexibility for fishermen regarding when to fish during the year;
  • Increasing the level of individual accountability with improved monitoring and enforcement;
  • Achieving conservation goals such as fishing at or below the TAC; and
  • A more efficient (less overcapitalized), more profitable, and more sustainable fishery.

Possible drawbacks of LAPs include:

  • Redistribution of fishery infrastructure through market transfers, which often impacts communities economically and socially; and
  • Creation of a situation where new entrants and those who did not receive an allocation may have difficulty entering the fishery due to the cost of quota.

In recent years, special features within LAP programs have been incorporated at implementation to mitigate potential negative impacts. In other cases, the fishery management entity has incorporated additional rules and special programs after implementation to account for unforeseen consequences.