Catch Efficiency in the Chilean Pelagic Fishery: Does size matter ?
This paper examines the determinants of technical efficiency for a sample of 204 industrial vessels operating in the Southern-Central pelagic fishery of Chile during the 1985-95 period. Data on vessel's annual landings and fishing effort, vessel's size, age, fishing experience and vessel's controlling firm are analysed considering a Translog stochastic frontier model à-la Battese-Coelli (1995), which includes a vessel-specific inefficiency model. Yearly averages for vessel efficiency vary from 50% to 86%. Close to 90% of the residuals' total variance is accounted by the inefficiency term, suggesting a significant disparity in vessels' catch performance. Vessel age and scale of operation are found to be significant in explaining efficiency. Larger vessels tend to be the most efficient and the ones showing least variance in their efficiency. Smaller vessels, which on average are also the oldest in the fleet, show greater dispersion and lower efficiency scores. We confirm prior results suggesting vessel-level economies of scale at this fishery, related to fishing effort intensity. Explanatory variables aggregated at the ship-owner level, which aim at controlling the firm's operating scale, are also significant as a whole when explaining vessel-level efficiency. We find positive search externalities associated to the number of vessels under control of a given firm, as well as external diseconomies related to each firm's fleet use. Overall, we report significant productive heterogeneity in the fleet under study where control variables associated to 'size effects' do indeed play a significant role.
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