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Protecting Marine Biodiversity: A Comparison of Individual Habitat Quotas (IHQs) and Marine Protected Areas


  • Kurt Schnier

    (University of Rhode Island)

  • Dan Holland

    (Gulf of Maine Research Institute)


Fisheries managers in the United States are required to identify and mitigate the adverse impacts of fishing activity on essential fish habitat (EFH). There are additional concerns that the viability of noncommercial species, animals that are habitat dependent and/or are themselves constituents of fishery habitat may still be threatened. We consider a cap-and-trade system for habitat conservation, individual habitat quotas for fisheries, to achieve habitat conservation and species protection goals cost effectively. Individual quotas of habitat impact units (HIUs) would be distributed to fishers with an aggregate quota set to maintain a target habitat “stock” of EFH conservation. Using a dynamic, spatially explicit fishery simulation model we explore the efficiency and cost effectiveness of an IHQ policy versus alternative marine protected area (MPA) configurations, at reducing the risk of extinguishing a habitat dependent species of unknown spatial distribution. Our findings indicate that an IHQ policy with a conservatively established habitat target is better suited to the protection of non-target species than a rotating or fixed MPA policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Kurt Schnier & Dan Holland, 2005. "Protecting Marine Biodiversity: A Comparison of Individual Habitat Quotas (IHQs) and Marine Protected Areas," Working Papers 2005.116, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2005.116

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Fisheries management; Individual transferable quota; ITQ; Individual habitat quota; IHQ; Essential fish habitat; EFH; Marine protected areas; MPA; Non-target species;

    JEL classification:

    • Q20 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - General
    • Q22 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Fishery

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