Free form property rights for fisheries: The decentralized design of rights-based management through groundfish "sectors" in New England
Harvest cooperatives were implemented in several US fisheries over the last decade during a period when US law prohibited implementation of any new individual fishery quota (IFQ) systems. Harvest cooperatives provided an alternative to individual quotas as a means to end the race for fish and increase fishery profitability. The prohibition on new IFQ systems in the US was lifted, but harvest cooperatives remain a more feasible and perhaps a superior alternative to IFQs for some fisheries. The New England Fishery Management Council is on the verge of implementing a new management system for the groundfish fishery based on harvest cooperatives known as "sectors". This paper describes the New England sector management system and discusses a number of advantages but also some drawbacks relative to IFQs. It argues that a hybrid of the two approaches could have advantages over either.
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