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A requiem for the IFQ in U.S. fisheries


  • K. Criddle
  • S. Macinko


Despite their apparent economic benefits to harvesters, Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQs) have only been adopted in three U.S. fisheries: Mid-Atlantic surf clam and ocean quahog; South Atlantic wreckfish; and North Pacific halibut and sablefish. During the 1996 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Congress temporarily blocked implementation of additional IFQ programs in U.S. fisheries. In this paper, we argue that because of the emergence of an alternative, the cooperative, it is unlikely that new IFQs will be adopted in federally managed U.S. fisheries. From an economic perspective, cooperatives offer the advantage of eliminating production externalities that may remain under an IFQ program with relatively large owner classes. More significantly, development of IFQ programs appear to be increasingly overwhelmed by the proliferation of both equity concerns and seemingly interminable rent-seeking behavior—both issues that can effectively block adoption of IFQs. Ironically (and paradoxically?), by reducing the scope of the equity issues acknowledged, the cooperative alternative narrows the pool of claimants and modifies the behavior of the remainder so as to make implementation more likely. A further irony exists in that IFQs are widely thought to be best designed at the local/regional level while part of the appeal of the cooperative model is that it appears to shortcut the often protracted nature of the local/regional political process by relying on direct Congressional intervention.

Suggested Citation

  • K. Criddle & S. Macinko, "undated". "A requiem for the IFQ in U.S. fisheries," Working Papers 2000-23, Utah State University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:usu:wpaper:2000-23

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    Cited by:

    1. Fina, Mark, 2003. "Can a novel management plan for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands crab fisheries succeed?," 2003 Annual meeting, July 27-30, Montreal, Canada 22255, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    2. Keith Evans & Quinn Weninger, 2014. "Information Sharing and Cooperative Search in Fisheries," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 58(3), pages 353-372, July.
    3. Call, Isabel L. & Lew, Daniel K., 2015. "Tradable permit programs: What are the lessons for the new Alaska halibut catch sharing plan?," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 125-137.
    4. Lawrence J. White, 2006. "The Fishery as a Watery Commons: Lessons from the Experiences of Other Public Policy Areas for US Fisheries Policy," Working Papers 06-18, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
    5. Boyce, John R., 2004. "Instrument choice in a fishery," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 183-206, January.
    6. Zhou, Rong & Segerson, Kathleen, 2014. "Individual vs. Collective Quotas in Fisheries Management: Efficiency and Distributional Impacts," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170601, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

    More about this item


    Individual fishing quotas; fishery cooperatives;


    This item is featured on the following reading lists, Wikipedia, or ReplicationWiki pages:
    1. Socio-economics of Fisheries and Aquaculture


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