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Research Related to the Halibut Catch Sharing Plan

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To address long-standing allocation conflicts between the Pacific halibut commercial fishing sector and the recreational charter (for-hire) sector in Alaska, an Alaska halibut catch sharing plan (CSP) is being implemented in 2014 that has a provision allowing the leasing of commercial individual fishing quota (IFQ) to recreational charter businesses (see 78 FR 75844). This one-way inter-sectoral trading allows for the charter sector to increase its share of the total allowable catch while compensating commercial fishermen. This type of catch shares program is novel in fisheries.

In recent work, economist Dan Lew with the Economics & Social Sciences Research (ESSR) program and Isabel Call (UC Davis Ph.D. candidate) examine the literature on non-fisheries tradable permit programs (TPPs) that have similarities to the IFQ leasing component of the Alaska halibut CSP program. To this end, they examine several successful TPPs, drawing from emissions trading programs, water quality trading programs, and transferable development rights programs.  These programs are evaluated in terms of their similarities and differences to the Alaska CSP program.  Several characteristics not part of the current CSP that other TPPs have used that may increase the likelihood for the CSP to be effective in achieving its primary goals (if implemented) are identified.

In complementary work, and to help inform potential future policy discussions about the CSP, Dan Lew is developing a survey that will collect information on general attitudes toward the CSP and the guided angler fish leasing program from International Pacific Halibut Commission Area 2C and Area 3A charter boat businesses (Charter Halibut Permit holders), and ask them to indicate their preferences for hypothetically relaxing specific features of the angler leasing program along the lines identified in the work describe above.  This information could provide valuable information to the NPFMC in its evaluation of the current features of the CSP and provide information that may help it evaluate adjustments to the CSP.  The survey will also provide a broad gauge of attitudes toward the program and its impacts on the charter sector and anglers.  It is anticipated to be fielded in 2015.

By Dan Lew


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