Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
NMFS Alaska Region administers the halibut and sablefish individual fishing quota (IFQ) programs in the North Pacific. The IFQ programs are limited access systems authorized by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982. Fishing under the IFQ programs began in March 1995. Regulations implementing the IFQ program are set forth at 50 CFR part 679.
In 1996, the Magnuson-Stevens Act was amended to, among other things, require the Secretary of Commerce to “collect a fee to recover the actual costs directly related to the management and enforcement of any * * * individual quota program.” This requirement was further amended in 2006 to include collection of the actual costs of data collection, and to replace the reference to “individual quota program” with a more general reference to “limited access privilege program” at section 304(d)(2)(A). This section of the Magnuson-Stevens Act also specifies an upper limit on these fees, when the fees must be collected, and where the fees must be deposited.
On March 20, 2000, NMFS published regulations implementing the IFQ cost recovery program (65 FR 14919), which are set forth at § 679.45. Under the regulations, an IFQ permit holder incurs a cost recovery fee liability for every pound of IFQ halibut and IFQ sablefish that is landed on his or her IFQ permit(s). The IFQ permit holder is responsible for self-collecting the fee liability for all IFQ halibut and IFQ sablefish landings on his or her permit(s). The IFQ permit holder is also responsible for submitting a fee liability payment to NMFS on or before the due date of January 31 of the year following the year in which the IFQ landings were made. The dollar amount of the fee due is determined by multiplying the annual IFQ fee percentage (3 percent or less) by the ex-vessel value of all IFQ landings made on a permit and summing the totals of each permit (if more than one).
The fee liability is based on the sum of all payments made to fishermen for the sale of the fish during the year. This includes any retro-payments (e.g., bonuses, delayed partial payments, post-season payments) made to the IFQ permit holder for previously landed IFQ halibut or sablefish.
For purposes of calculating IFQ cost recovery fees, NMFS distinguishes between two types of ex-vessel value: Actual and standard. Actual ex-vessel value is the amount of all compensation, monetary or non-monetary, that an IFQ permit holder received as payment for his or her IFQ fish sold. Standard ex-vessel value is the default value on which to base fee liability calculations. IFQ permit holders have the option of using actual ex-vessel value if they can satisfactorily document it; otherwise, the standard ex-vessel value is used.
Regulations at § 679.45(c)(2)(i) require the Regional Administrator to publish IFQ standard prices during the last quarter of each calendar year. These standard prices are used, along with estimates of IFQ halibut and IFQ sablefish landings, to calculate standard values. The standard prices are described in U.S. dollars per IFQ equivalent pound for IFQ halibut and IFQ sablefish landings made during the year. IFQ equivalent pound(s) is the weight (in pounds) for an IFQ landing, calculated as the round weight for sablefish, and headed and gutted net weight for halibut. NMFS calculates the standard prices to closely reflect the variations in the actual ex-vessel values of IFQ halibut and IFQ sablefish landings by month and port or port-group. The standard prices for IFQ halibut and IFQ sablefish are listed in the tables that follow the next section. Data from ports are combined as necessary to protect confidentiality.
Section 304(d)(2)(B) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act specifies a maximum fee of 3 percent of the ex-vessel value of fish harvested under an IFQ Program. NMFS annually sets a fee percentage for sablefish and halibut IFQ holders that is based on the actual annual costs associated with certain management and enforcement functions, as well as the standard ex-vessel value of the catch subject to the IFQ fee for the current year. The method used by NMFS to calculate the IFQ fee percentage is described at § 679.45(d)(2)(ii).
Regulations at § 679.45(d)(3)(i) require NMFS to publish the IFQ fee percentage for the halibut and sablefish IFQ fisheries in the
16 U.S.C. 1801