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MD DNR looking for feedback on commercial striped bass proposal
Monday, April 6, 2015

Subject: Chesapeake Bay Commercial Striped Bass Fishery

Purpose:
The Commercial Striped Bass Industry Workgroup (SBWG) has recommended that the Department consider regulations to allow for the permanent transfer of a striped bass permit and/or quota shares. The Department does not currently allow for the permanent transfer of a striped bass permit and/or quota share without the inclusion of the seller's commercial fishing license (TFL, FIN, or HLI). Only temporary transfers/leases of permits and quota shares have been available to permit holders since the inception of the individual transferrable quota (ITQ) system in 2014. The Department is considering these changes to allow a striped bass permit holder to manage their permit and quota share in a way that provides the most flexibility in their business due to the SBWG recommendation.

Background:
This request would change the current regulations to allow a permit holder to sell their permit and/or quota shares independently of the commercial fishing license. This provision will allow individual permit holders to accumulate quota shares and hold more shares of the fishery than what was initially allocated to them. In addition, this would allow a permit holder to sell only quota shares and keep the permit (without any allocation) for future use, or to sell a striped bass permit without transferring away their commercial fishing license.

One outcome of allowing for permanent transfers is a consolidation of the fishery. Ownership of the quota will begin to condense to fewer and fewer active fishermen as individuals make the decision to sell their initial allocation. This was discussed by the SBWG and they provided a consensus recommendation to include 'limiting factors' within the regulatory proposal to slow down the accumulation of quota shares by a permit holder in any one year. The SBWG also provided recommendations regarding the factors limiting quota share accumulation. The recommendations and input of the SBWG are the basis for the regulations being considered.

Regulatory Ideas:
Individual Quota Caps (Ownership and Temporary)
Set a quota share ownership cap at 1%. This would allow all permit holders to permanently accumulate up to a 1% share in the total commercial fishery. For 2015, this is equal to approximately 15,000 pounds.
Set a total quota cap (ownership and temporary transfers) at 1.5% soft cap. This would allow a permit holder who already owns the maximum amount of quota shares to obtain more through leasing via temporary transfers. A soft cap means that the transferee can obtain more than 1.5% on the final lease transaction, however, once above 1.5% they are prohibited from any additional temporary transactions
This also means that someone who doesn't own the maximum quota share amount can accumulate up to 1.5% of the fishery on a temporary basis. For 2015, 1.5% is equal to approximately 22,500 pounds.
Quota Transaction Cap
Set a buyer cap at 3,000 pounds annually. This would limit any individual from buying more than 3,000 pounds of quota per year. This does not, however, limit a seller from selling more than 3,000 pounds a year. The seller would have to split up their sale to multiple buyers.
The exception to the quota transaction cap would be for a buyer purchasing an entire commercial business including the seller's commercial fishing license.
Permanent Transfer Time Period
Only allow the permanent transfer of permits and quota shares from August 1 - September 30. All transfers would be for the following quota year beginning on January 1.
The exception to the time period provision would be for a buyer purchasing an entire commercial business including the seller's commercial fishing license. This can occur at anytime during the year.
Permit Renewal / Waitlist
All permits must be renewed annually or they expire and go back to the Department for distribution to the waiting list. This includes multiple permits held by a single individual.
All permits returned to the Department (expired/revoked) will be offered to the next person on the striped bass waiting list with zero initial allocation. All quota shares associated with these permits will be re-distributed to all other permits with quota shares.
Common Pool Declaration
Prohibit an individual from entering into the common pool if they have less than the baseline quota share amount. This keeps people with a permit and no allocation from entering into the common pool and catching the fish that were contributed to the pool by others with quota.
The Department will be holding two public scoping meetings to obtain public input. The first will be April 7, 2015, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Chesapeake College, Education Center, Room 110, Wye Mills, MD 21679. The second will be April 8, 2015, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Calvary United Methodist Church, Fellowship Hall, 301 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis, MD 21401. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment.dnr@maryland.gov.

Feedback is due by COB Wednesday April 15, 2015.


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