(a) Standard 5. Conservation and management measures shall, where practicable, consider efficiency in the utilization of fishery resources; except that no such measure shall have economic allocation as its sole purpose.
(b) Efficiency in the utilization of resources -
(1) General. The term “utilization” encompasses harvesting, processing, marketing, and non-consumptive uses of the resource, since management decisions affect all sectors of the industry. In considering efficient utilization of fishery resources, this standard highlights one way that a fishery can contribute to the Nation's benefit with the least cost to society: Given a set of objectives for the fishery, an FMP should contain management measures that result in as efficient a fishery as is practicable or desirable.
(2) Efficiency. In theory, an efficient fishery would harvest the OY with the minimum use of economic inputs such as labor, capital, interest, and fuel. Efficiency in terms of aggregate costs then becomes a conservation objective, where “conservation” constitutes wise use of all resources involved in the fishery, not just fish stocks.
(i) In an FMP, management measures may be proposed that allocate fish among different groups of individuals or establish a system of property rights. Alternative measures examined in searching for an efficient outcome will result in different distributions of gains and burdens among identifiable user groups. An FMP should demonstrate that management measures aimed at efficiency do not simply redistribute gains and burdens without an increase in efficiency.
(ii) Management regimes that allow a fishery to operate at the lowest possible cost (e.g., fishing effort, administration, and enforcement) for a particular level of catch and initial stock size are considered efficient. Restrictive measures that unnecessarily raise any of those costs move the regime toward inefficiency. Unless the use of inefficient techniques or the creation of redundant fishing capacity contributes to the attainment of other social or biological objectives, an FMP may not contain management measures that impede the use of cost-effective techniques of harvesting, processing, or marketing, and should avoid creating strong incentives for excessive investment in private sector fishing capital and labor.
(c) Limited access. A “system for limiting access,” which is an optional measure under section 303(b) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, is a type of allocation of fishing privileges that may be considered to contribute to economic efficiency or conservation. For example, limited access may be used to combat overfishing, overcrowding, or overcapitalization in a fishery to achieve OY. In an unutilized or underutilized fishery, it may be used to reduce the chance that these conditions will adversely affect the fishery in the future, or to provide adequate economic return to pioneers in a new fishery. In some cases, limited entry is a useful ingredient of a conservation scheme, because it facilitates application and enforcement of other management measures.
(1) Definition. Limited access (or limited entry) is a management technique that attempts to limit units of effort in a fishery, usually for the purpose of reducing economic waste, improving net economic return to the fishermen, or capturing economic rent for the benefit of the taxpayer or the consumer. Common forms of limited access are licensing of vessels, gear, or fishermen to reduce the number of units of effort, and dividing the total allowable catch into fishermen's quotas (a stock-certificate system). Two forms (i.e., Federal fees for licenses or permits in excess of administrative costs, and taxation) are not permitted under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, except for fees allowed under section 304(d)(2).
(2) Factors to consider. The Magnuson-Stevens Act ties the use of limited access to the achievement of OY. An FMP that proposes a limited access system must consider the factors listed in section 303(b)(6) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and in § 600.325(c)(3). In addition, it should consider the criteria for qualifying for a permit, the nature of the interest created, whether to make the permit transferable, and the Magnuson-Stevens Act's limitations on returning economic rent to the public under section 304(d). The FMP should also discuss the costs of achieving an appropriate distribution of fishing privileges.
(d) Analysis. An FMP should discuss the extent to which overcapitalization, congestion, economic waste, and inefficient techniques in the fishery reduce the net benefits derived from the management unit and prevent the attainment and appropriate allocation of OY. It should also explain, in terms of the FMP's objectives, any restriction placed on the use of efficient techniques of harvesting, processing, or marketing. If, during FMP development, the Council considered imposing a limited-entry system, the FMP should analyze the Council's decision to recommend or reject limited access as a technique to achieve efficient utilization of the resources of the fishing industry.
(e) Economic allocation. This standard prohibits only those measures that distribute fishery resources among fishermen on the basis of economic factors alone, and that have economic allocation as their only purpose. Where conservation and management measures are recommended that would change the economic structure of the industry or the economic conditions under which the industry operates, the need for such measures must be justified in light of the biological, ecological, and social objectives of the FMP, as well as the economic objectives.