Risk Analysis in Setting Allowable Harvests: Annual Catch Limits under the Magnuson Stevens Reauthorization Act Public Deposited

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  • Under the reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSRA), US fisheries management councils must specify an annual catch limit (ACL) for each managed species and institute accountability measures (AMs) to ensure that actual harvest will not cause the stock to be overfished. While the details of implementation are still being developed, a set of Proposed Guidelines for performing ACL analysis has been developed. The purpose of this paper is to provide a preliminary assessment of these guidelines. The MSRA specifies two principles to be used as a framework for determining how Councils can comply with the ACL and AM measures. Both deal with uncertainty in the overall fisheries management process. The first is the separation between science and policy in setting the upper level on allowable harvests. The second is the requirement to take strong management actions to ensure that, given real world enforcement issues, the actual harvest in any year does not surpass the allowable harvest level. The procedure for applying the principles is quite complex and it goes beyond a strict interpretation of the written language in the law. However, it is consistent with current procedures and with commonly accepted principles in fisheries management policy. The Proposed Guidelines suggest that a distinction be made between scientific and implementation uncertainty. While the distinction may follow from the two principles, a preliminary look at the logical process of developing the required control rules for specifying Acceptable Biological Catch and Annual Catch Targets raises questions about the usefulness of this distinction in actual policy analysis.
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  • Anderson, Lee G. and Kathryn Alese Semmens. 2008. Risk Analysis in Setting Allowable Harvests: Annual Catch Limits under the Magnuson Stevens Reauthorization Act. 11 pages. In: Proceedings of the Fourteenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade, July 22-25, 2008, Nha Trang, Vietnam: Achieving a Sustainable Future: Managing Aquaculture, Fishing, Trade and Development. Compiled by Ann L. Shriver. International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade, Corvallis, Oregon, USA, 2008.
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