Economic Outcomes for Harvesters under the West Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program: Have Goals and Objectives Been Met?
The West Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program was designed to achieve multiple economic goals and objectives, including increasing net benefits, profitability, flexibility, and utilization of harvest allocations. In this article, we leverage seven years of comprehensive cost and earnings data to evaluate progress towards these goals with a focus on harvesters. Our assessment shows that five years post-implementation, net benefits to the nation have doubled, and indicators of productivity and profitability have increased. The fleet that targets Pacific whiting has seen the largest gains, due in part to increases in total allowable catch and the elimination of the race-to-fish. However, increased revenues have not been realized to the degree that was expected for harvesters targeting non-whiting groundfish, partly due to lower than predicted consolidation and relatively low quota utilization. Economic outcomes indicate that tradeoffs exist between certain objectives of the program, specifically between achieving full utilization and flexibility for harvesters. Results are discussed in the context of the design and evaluation of catch share programs for diverse, multispecies fisheries.
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