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This article reviews the authors' earlier attempts to incorporate the theories of capital and investment into fisheries economics and argues that such dynamic analysis is now of immediate policy relevance. It also discusses some limitations to the earlier analysis and means of addressing them. It then goes on to point to two areas of potential future research, with the first of these being an expansion of work initiated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and others on the economics of the required massive investment in hitherto overexploited capture fishery resources, giving particular emphasis to the consequences of non-malleable human capital. The second concerns intra-EEZ management of fishery resources and the growing need for greater application of game theory to the management of such resources.
The fishery-dependent data used to estimate fishing production technologies are shaped by the incentive structures that influence fishermen's purposeful choices across their multiple margins of production. Using a combination of analytical and simulation methods, we demonstrate how market prices and regulatory institutions influence a dominant short-run margin of production—the deployment of fishing time over space. We show that institutionally driven spatial selection leads to only a partial exploration of the full production set, yielding poorly identified estimates of production possibilities outside of the institutionally dependent status quo. The implication is that many estimated fisheries production functions suffer from a lack of policy invariance and may yield misleading predictions for even the most short-run of policy evaluation tasks. Our findings suggest that accurate assessment of the impacts of a policy intervention requires a description of the fishing production process that is sufficiently structural so as to be invariant to institutional changes.
Conventional empirical models of fisheries production inadequately capture the primary margins of behavior along which fishermen act, rendering them ineffective for ex ante policy evaluation. We estimate a conventional production model for a fishery undergoing a transition to rights-based management and show that ex ante production data alone arrives at misleading conclusions regarding post-rationalization production possibilities— even though the technologies available to fishermen before and after rationalization were effectively unchanged. Our results emphasize the difficulty of assessing the potential impacts of a policy change on the basis of ex ante data alone. Since such data are generated under a different incentive structure than the prospective system, a purely empirical approach imposed upon a flexible functional form is likely to reflect far more about the incentives under status-quo management than the actual technological possibilities under a new policy regime.
Recreational fisheries regulations frequently consist of possession limits, size limits, and seasonal closures that constrain the ability of recreational fishermen to catch or land fish. It is difficult to predict how these regulations will influence angler participation and recreational fishing mortality. This research integrates a utility-theory consistent model of demand for recreational fishing trips with an age-structured stock dynamics model to provide policy relevant advice to managers of the groundfish fishery in the Northeast United States. The recreational cod and haddock regulations implemented in 2014 have high costs in terms of foregone angler welfare and minimal positive impacts on stock conditions after three years. The ability of policies that generate large amounts of discarding, like high minimum size limits, to meet conservation objectives are also found to be quite sensitive to assumptions about the recreational discard mortality rate.
The debate in commercial fishery management has evolved from whether well-defined rights are necessary for sustainability to measuring the impacts of different rights-based system designs. Most assessments are on developed world fisheries. Using a unique collection of datasets, we develop counterfactuals to evaluate the economic impacts of the Chilean jack mackerel catch share program. We investigate vessel and trip characteristics, as well as trip costs and revenues, before and after the implementation of the program. We find an increase in higher value products and associated revenue, as well as consolidation of catch on larger vessels, vessels taking longer trips, and those catching more per trip. Overall, we estimate that the program led to a measureable increase in fishing profits, mainly due to movement toward higher-value products. A back-of-the-envelope calculation results in an implied annual quota rental rate on the order of approximately 15–19% of ex-vessel prices.