Quotas, Productivity and Prices: The Case of Anchovy Fishing
I exploit a 2009 reform that introduced individual fishing quotas (catch shares) for Peruvian anchovy – the largest fishery in the world – to assess the causal impact of production quotas on within-firm productivity and market prices. Unique features of the data allow me to create two alternative counterfactuals: (i) anchovy fishing operations in a region of the country that was mandated to implement quotas with a delay, and (ii) variation in quota allocations across ships. I find that quotas do not increase within-asset or within-firm productivity in quantities. Instead, a 200% increase in anchovy prices benefits extraction firms through higher revenues, consistent with two mechanisms enacted by individual fishing quotas: more orderly industry operations reducing excess supply and an increase in bargaining power of extraction firms with respect to fish-processing. Several market characteristics across geographies differentially affect market prices after the quota regime. Supplementary evidence on fewer operational infractions, higher product quality, and a lower banking delinquency observed during the quota regime suggests the existence of efficiency gains rather than purely rent transfers.
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