Rights-Based Management, Competition, and Distributional Equity in Hawaii’s Largest Commercial Fishery

May 14, 2020

Many global fisheries have transitioned to rights-based management to improve bioeconomic outcomes, but several fishing communities have experienced negative social impacts.

Many global fisheries have transitioned to rights-based management to improve bioeconomic outcomes, but several fishing communities have experienced negative social impacts. Negative social impacts are often attributed to a focus on economic efficiency and resource sustainability, with less focus on the distributional equity among fishery participants. Among rights-based systems, limited entry has been used for over a century to reduce excess fleet capacity. In 1991, a limited entry permit system was initiated in the Hawai‘i longline fleet, following years of rapid growth. The Hawai‘i system did not set an ownership cap, which presented a natural experiment to examine distributional equity in the fleet over time. We examined permit ownership changes in the Hawai‘i longline fishery using 27 years of permit transactions, then linked it to logbook landings and commercial dealer data to examine revenue inequality using the gini coefficient. We also analyzed property rights components to better understand how institutional factors affected ownership changes. We found that three distinct permit ownership groups emerged and permits, landings, and revenue became increasingly consolidated among multiple permit owners. The gini coefficient indicated that how the fishery was analyzed significantly affected measures of revenue inequality. One measure indicated that revenue inequality in the Hawai‘i limited entry system was similar to other U.S. fisheries managed by catch shares. Without an ownership cap, distributional equity in the Hawai‘i longline fleet changed significantly over time. Our findings indicate that distributional equity should be considered prior to initiating rights-based transitions in other global fisheries.


Ayers AL, Chan HL. 2020. Rights-Based Management, Competition, and Distributional Equity in Hawaii's Largest Commercial Fishery. International Journal of the Commons. 14(1):262-277.  https://doi.org/10.5334/ijc.996.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 08/24/2020