The Economic Performance of U.S. Catch Share Programs
Catch share programs are a fishery management tool that dedicates a secure share of quota allowing individual fishermen, fishing cooperatives, fishing communities, or other entities to harvest a fixed amount of fish.
With clearly defined fishing privileges, fishermen no longer need to “race to fish,” but instead can make harvest decisions based upon market conditions, improving economic performance, and weather conditions, which improves crew safety. These incentives can reduce the cost of taking conservation actions and can encourage individual fishing choices that are more consistent with sustainable fishing practices such as reducing low-value or undersized catch that is discarded at sea but is frequently associated with high mortality rates. The ability to align fishermen’s economic incentives with the long-term biological health of the fishery singularly distinguishes catch share programs from traditional fishery management strategies (i.e., trip limits, gear restrictions, etc.).