Individual fishing quotas and fishing capacity in the US Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery
Overcapacity (OC) and excess capacity (EC) are serious obstacles affecting the sound management of commercial fisheries around the world. The use of individual fishing quotas (IFQs) has been proposed as a promising management tool to cope with these challenges. However, the empirical evidence on the efficacy of this instrument is scarce. Drawing on a stochastic distance frontier analysis, we investigate the impact of the US Gulf of Mexico red snapper IFQ program on fishing capacity, capacity utilisation (CU) and OC. The paper also offers an alternative approach to compute species-specific capacity measurements for multispecies fisheries. Our findings show that following the introduction of the IFQ program, fishing capacity decreased, primarily due to the exit of a large number of fishing vessels. CU increased marginally indicating modest decreases in EC. Conversely, we find that OC remains high. Our estimates suggest that about one-fifth of the actual fleet could harvest the entire quota.