Cape Cod Fisheries Trust

The Cape Cod Fisheries Trust was founded with a vision of ensuring small-boat fishermen affordable access to groundfish and scallop quota. When management of those fisheries shifted to “catch share” systems, a group of fishermen collaborated with Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance to create the Trust. The Trust acts as a quota bank from which local small-boat commercial fishermen can lease quota at discounted rates. Working together with the Community Development Partnership, the Cape Cod Fisheries Trust offers financing, business planning, and technical assistance to fishermen who want to grow their own business.

What is quota?

Fisheries scientists determine the amount of fish that can be caught each year while still leaving enough in the ocean to support our ecosystem. Then the government gives each fisherman access to catch a share of that annual limit.

What is a catch share system?

In a catch share system, quota is allocated to different permits. While fishermen already have their own permits with various amount of quota, they often need to lease or purchase additional quota to maintain a sustainable and profitable small business.

In 2021, the Trust leased quota to twenty local fishing businesses. Species leased out include scallops, hake, cod, haddock, and smaller amounts of groundfish like dabs and flounder. The 2021 Trust leasing produced $3,455,873 worth of landings (ex-vessel value).

In 2015, the Cape Cod FisheriesTrust team published a handbook intended for communities who want to build a permit bank or have launched one and are learning to manage it as a nonprofit business. In it, we share some of our experience on Cape Cod, lessons learned from others and questions to consider at each step along the way.

Scallop dredge & scallops_FV Helltown

Banking on Your Fishing Future Handbook

How to guide, fund and sustain America’s small-boat
fishing traditions through the permit bank system