Hidden Flexibility: Institutions, Incentives, and the Margins of Selectivity in Fishing
The degree to which selectivity in fisheries is malleable to changes in incentive structures is critical for policy design. We examine data for a multispecies trawl fishery before and after a transition from management under common-pool quotas to a fishery cooperative and note a substantial shift in postcooperative catch from bycatch and toward valuable target species. We examine the margins used to affect catch composition, finding that large- and fine-scale spatial decision making and avoidance of night-fishing were critical. We argue that the poor incentives for selectivity in many systems may obscure significant flexibility in multispecies production technologies.