NEWBURYPORT, Mass. __ Spokesperson Rachel Feeney said the Council is working to prevent over-consolidation of the groundfish industry.
"It'll be one of several pieces of information that the Council will be using to create alternatives to seeking an excessive share limit," Feeney said.
The Council will consider the report, titled "Recommendations for Excessive Share Limits in the Northeast Multispecies Fishery" and prepared by the economic consulting firm Compass Lexecon, as it looks into measures for accumulation caps and preserving fleet diversity. A formal peer review of the final report is expected to take place early this year. Officials are concerned that too few vessels may be able to control too much of the catch, which in turn could lead to price manipulation.
"The was an interest expressed in creating some sort of consolidation cap, or ownership cap of either permits, or quota or how much to be leased, that sort of thing to try and avoid overconsolidation of the fishery," said Feeney. "People don't want it to all consolidate down to just one or two boats."
In 2010, fishery officials implemented a management strategy called "catch share program" that sets a total quota of groundfish. Under this program, fishermen hold shares of the quota. Spokesperson Rachel Feeney says the New England Fishery Management Council will consider report recommendations aimed at preventing any one entity, or person, from controlling the price of fish, price of permits, or price of leased quotas.
"It'll be a formal peer review of the report is expected to take place early this year," Feeney said.
The New England Fishery Management Council creates rules for large and small-scale commercial and recreational fisheries that operate up to 200 miles off the coastlines of five New England states, including Maine.
Although the final report has been accepted, there have been no formal decisions made by the Council about whether to have accumulation limits for the groundfish fishery and what form those limits may take. This report is one piece of information that the Council can use to help make its decisions.