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Glossary of Catch Share Terms


1. Distribution of the opportunity to fish among user groups or individuals. The share a user group gets is sometimes based on historic harvest amounts; 

2. A quantity of catch, effort, or biomass attributed to a person, a vessel, or a fishing company or other entity. The allocation can be absolute (e.g. a number of tons) or relative (e.g. a percentage of the annual allowable catch).

Annual Allocation (Quota Pounds)

The annual amount of fish a participant is allowed to catch, usually defined in terms of total weight. It is often calculated as a percentage of the commercial quota based on a participant's quota shares. Varies according to changes in the commercial quota over time.

Annual Catch Limit

The maximum amount of fish that can be sustainably caught in a given year. Also known as Total Allowable Catch (TAC). 


[MSA 16 1802(3)] Fish which are harvested in a fishery, but which are not sold or kept for personal use, and includes economic discards and regulatory discards. Such term does not include fish released alive under a recreational catch and release fishery management program.

Catch Share Program

A catch share program is a generic term used to describe fishery management programs that allocate a specific percentage of the total allowable fishery catch or a specific fishing area to individuals, cooperatives, communities, or other entities. It includes more specific programs defined in statute such as Limited Access Privilege Programs (LAPPs) and Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQs). It also includes Territorial Use Rights Fisheries (TURFs) that grant an exclusive privilege to fish in a geographically designated fishing ground. The recipient of a catch share is directly accountable to stop fishing when its specific share of annual quota is reached. Not defined in Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA).


A change in industry structure wherein the number of businesses decreases and the size of businesses (e.g. number of employees) increases over time.

Cost Recovery Fee 

A fee charged by NOAA Fisheries to recover the costs of management, data collection and analysis, and enforcement programs that are directly related to and in support of a LAPP or community development quota program. The relevant costs to recover are the incremental costs, i.e., those costs that would not have been incurred but for the LAPP, since cost recovery is not authorized for non-LAPP fisheries. Such fee shall not exceed 3 percent of the ex-vessel value of fish harvested under any such program, and shall be collected at either the time of the landing, filing of a landing report, or sale of such fish during a fishing season or in the last quarter of the calendar year in which the fish is harvested.

Derby Fishing/Race to Fish

Fishing conditions characterized by short seasons and severe competition for fish, often resulting in low profits and harvests that exceed sustainable levels.

Economic Efficiency 

The use of resources in a manner that leads to the maximum production of goods and/or services. Economic efficiency is attained if no additional output can be produced without increasing the amount of inputs used to produce that output and if production occurs at the lowest possible per unit cost. 

Ex-vessel Value

A measure of the dollar value of commercial landings, usually calculated as the price per pound at first purchase of the commercial landings multiplied by the total pounds landed. 


A unit determined by an authority or other entity that is engaged in raising or harvesting fish. Typically, the unit is defined in terms of some or all of the following: people involved, species or type of fish, area of water or seabed, method of fishing, class of boats, and purpose of the activities.

Fishing Community

[MSA 16 USC 1802(17)] A community which is substantially dependent on or substantially engaged in the harvest or processing of fishery resources to meet social and economic needs, and includes fishing vessel owners, operators, and crew and United States fish processors that are based in such community.

Fishing Cooperatives

Defined under the Fishermen’s Collective Marketing Act (FCMA) of 1934 (15 USC 521). A group comprised of “persons engaged in the fishing industry as fishermen, catching, collecting, or cultivating aquatic products, or as planters of aquatic products on public or private beds, that may act together in association, corporate or otherwise.”  Not defined in Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA).

Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ)

[MSA 16 USC 1802(23)] A Federal permit under a limited access system to harvest a quantity of fish, expressed by a unit or units representing a percentage of the total allowable catch (TAC) of a fishery that may be received or held for exclusive use by a person. Such term does not include community development quotas as described in section 305(i).

Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ)

An individual fishing quota (IFQ) program where privileges can be transferred subsequent to initial allocations. Not defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA).

Limited Access Privilege

[MSA 16 USC 1801(26)] A Federal permit, issued as part of a limited access system under section 303A to harvest a quantity of fish expressed by a unit or units representing a portion of the total allowable catch of the fishery that may be received or held for exclusive use by a person. This includes individual fishing quotas, but does not include community development quotas as described in section 305(i).

Limited Access System

[MSA 16 USC 1802 (27)] A system that limits participation in a fishery to those satisfying certain eligibility criteria or requirements contained in a fishery management plan or associated regulation.

Northeast Groundfish Sector Program

An exclusive assignment of some portion of the TAC to a group of two or more individuals holding permits in the Northeast Groundfish fishery that have fulfilled council eligibility and participation criteria, and have agreed to collaborate, voluntarily and for a specified period of time, in order to achieve a common set of objectives. The group may be organized around a particular gear type, species or geographic area with its purpose being the receipt of an exclusive privilege to fish. Not defined in Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA).


The difference between harvest capacity and a management target catch level (e.g., ACL/TAC, quota, MSY, etc.). It is not synonymous with excess capacity, which is the difference between harvest capacity and actual harvest. 

Permit Bank

A collection of fishing permits held by an organization or individual for the purpose of leasing the associated fishing privileges to qualifying fishermen.

Quota Share

The percentage of the sector's catch limit to which the holder of quota shares has access to harvest. This percentage is used to calculate the annual allocation, and it is not affected by changes in the catch limit over time.


An allocation of labor and capital between fishing and other industries that maximizes the net value of production.

Regional Fishery Association

[MSA 16 1802(14)] An association formed for the mutual benefit of members to meet social and economic needs in a region or sub-region; comprised of persons engaging in the harvest or processing of fishery resources in that specific region or sub-region or who otherwise own or operate businesses substantially dependent upon a fishery.


Fees collected from the auctioning of initial or subsequent allocations of quota under a LAPP. The purpose of royalties is to collect resource rent. Resource rent is an economic term defined as a surplus value, i.e., the difference between ex-vessel value and production costs, which includes normal profit. Normal profit is the profit that a business owner considers necessary to make running the business worth his while (i.e., it is comparable to the next best amount the entrepreneur could earn doing another job). Potential reasons for collecting resource rent include ensuring a return to the resource owner (i.e., the public), avoiding an inefficient allocation of quota, and achieving distributional objectives. Rent recovery is not equivalent to cost recovery.

Share Cap/Allocation Cap/Accumulation Limit

The maximum percentage of the shares, amount of annual allocation, or level of landings any single entity can possess and/or land.


Within the context of catch share programs, a shareholder is an entity (individual, business, community, etc.) that holds a share of the quota in that program. Within the context of businesses, particularly corporations, a shareholder (or stockholder) is an entity that owns at least one share in that business.


Within the context of catch share programs, quota shares and/or annual allocation/quota pounds may be bought or sold.