Distributional effects of property rights: Transitions in the Atlantic Herring fishery
A principal challenge in developing any fishery management plan is the allocation of benefits and costs among participants in the fishery. This process is further complicated by imperfect information about future market demand and limited ability to predict the consequences of regulatory change. This paper offers a new approach to policymakers, using econometric analysis to simulate the potential impact of individual tradable quotas (ITQs) in a fishery. We compare the distribution of harvest across participants in the Atlantic Herring fishery under the current open access regime and under a potential ITQ regime, assuming two different levels of future demand. Our results show that production efficiency varies by vessel gear, home-port and relationship with buyers. Some of the predicted consequences of ITQs are: vessels from Massachusetts will gain share relative to those from Maine; trawlers will gain share relative to purse seine vessels; and independent vessels will lose share relative to vessels that are primarily contracted to specific processors or bait companies. These results will help policymakers in developing future management plans for the herring fishery. More generally, this analytical approach can help regulators in any fishery assess the potential impact of alternative policy changes under alternative future demand scenarios.
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