Business Economics and Public Policy Papers

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

1-2012

Publication Source

Marine Resource Economics

Volume

27

Issue

1

Start Page

89

Last Page

105

DOI

10.5950/0738-1360-27.1.89

Abstract

Individual transferable quotas (ITQs) assign property rights in fisheries by granting individual fishers a tradable share of the total allowable catch (TAC). ITQs were originally proposed to enhance profitability and safety, but may also provide incentives for more conservation-minded fishing practices. Indeed, recent empirical evidence shows a reduction in the likelihood of stock collapse and a threefold increase in catches two decades after ITQ implementation. Yet these spectacular catch increases follow modest 20% reductions in reported catches. We used standard fisheries models to analyze whether these catch trends are consistent with the theory underlying conservation benefits from property rights. We find that it appears unlikely that catch increases are attributable to ITQs alone. Improved catch reporting systems are often enacted concurrent with ITQs and may plausibly explain sustained catch increases. The existence of this alternative explanation warrants caution about claims that property rights are the cause of sustainable catch gains.

Keywords

individual transferable quota (ITQ), property rights, catch share, fisheries, economic efficiency, sample selection, catch reporting

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Date Posted: 27 November 2017

This document has been peer reviewed.