Social and Economic Effects of ITQs on the West Coast Groundfish Fishery: Solving the Weak Stock/Bycatch Problem


In 2011, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council and NOAA Fisheries established a West Coast groundfish catch-shares program to help rebuild vulnerable stocks within the complex of groundfish species caught by trawlers. This project is examining the social and economic consequences of the new management system. In work to date, scientists have compiled an extensive database of trawl activity in the fishery. This database will be used to document changes in groundfish landings, bycatch, fleet size and ex-vessel prices of catches since 2011. A bioeconomic model has also been developed to explore the pros and cons of no-take marine reserves vs. catch shares in rebuilding depleted groundfish stocks. One of the hoped-for advantages of catch shares management is to incentivize market-based, industry-led solutions to the fishery's bycatch problem. Yet another goal of this project is to evaluate whether one such emerging solution - the formation of risk pools, in which members pool their quotas of weakstock species - is working as intended. In particular, researchers will examine whether risk pool members are more likely to catch their full quotas of healthy stocks and less likely to have high rates of bycatch than other fishery participants. Initial findings from this project will be shared with fishermen, managers and regulators at a workshop this spring.

Co-principal Investigators

  • University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)