Finding the accelerator and brake in an individual quota fishery: linking ecology, economics, and fleet dynamics of US West Coast trawl fisheries
In 2011, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council implemented an individual transferrable quota (ITQ) system for the US West Coast groundfish trawl fleet. Under the ITQ system, each vessel now receives transferrable annual allocations of quota for 29 groundfish species, including target and bycatch species. Here we develop an ecosystem and fleet dynamics model to identify which components of an ITQ system are likely to drive responses in effort, target species catch, bycatch, and overall profitability. In the absence of penalties for discarding over-quota fish, ITQs lead to large increases in fishing effort and bycatch. The penalties fishermen expect for exceeding quota have the largest effect on fleet behaviour, capping effort and total bycatch. Quota prices for target or bycatch species have lesser impacts on fishing dynamics, even up to bycatch quota prices of $50 kg−1. Ports that overlap less with bycatch species can increase effort under individual quotas, while other ports decrease effort. Relative to a prior management system, ITQs with penalties for exceeding quotas lead to increased target species landings and lower bycatch, but with strong variation among species. The model illustrates how alternative fishery management policies affect profitability, sustainability and the ecosystem.
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