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Economics & Social Sciences Research Program

Gulf of Alaska Halibut IFQ and Small Remote Fishing Communities

Individual fishing quota (IFQ) programs, like other dedicated access privilege programs, are often criticized for their distributional consequences. In the Gulf of Alaska halibut fishery, many regulatory precautions were taken to preserve the character of the fishery. However, there is concern that fishing quota holdings are being reduced in small, remote Alaska fishing communities (SRFCs). Jennifer Sepez and Dan Lew have been working with University of Washington Ph.D. student Courtney Carothers to analyze quota share transactions from 1994 to 1999 to assess whether halibut fishing quota holdings are migrating away from SRFCs.

In this study, a community is a SRFC if it meets criteria based on population size, proximity to the coast, historical participation in Alaska fisheries, and designation as a rural area, which is a proxy for remoteness. Several size-based SRFC definitions are developed to account for sensitivity to population size threshold assumptions.

The data show that quota share did leave the smallest SRFC communities over the 5-year period, as evidenced by the net quota share change in these communities during that time. In more populated SRFC communities, the trend is generally reversed; that is, more quota share entered these communities than left. These results suggest the size of a SRFC community may influence whether its residents will sell or buy halibut IFQ and hence whether we see quota share leaving or entering the community in aggregate.

To more formally investigate the role of SRFC residency in decisions to buy or sell halibut quota share, the probability that an individual is a buyer or seller is modeled as a function of characteristics of the individual and analyzed using logit techniques. In this way, the influence of individual characteristics, such as age and the community's population, on buying and selling behavior can be separated from effects due to residency specifically in SRFCs.

The logit results indicate that the marginal effect due to SRFC residency influences the decision to buy or sell more than one's age (other individual and transaction-specific effects were precluded from the model due to data limitations). The size of SRFC communities matters as well. Additional analysis is planned to explore the extent to which specific characteristics of communities contribute to buying and selling behavior more generally and to investigate the reasons underlying the observed buying and selling trends in SRFCs.

By Dan Lew

Staff Appointments

Alan Haynie was appointed as an affiliate faculty member to the School of Marine Affairs at the University of Washington and to the expert panel for assessment of the economic impacts of climate change in Washington State.

Dan Lew was appointed to the editorial council of the Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, a peer-reviewed journal that publishes scholarly economic research on agriculture, natural resources, and related areas.

By Ron Felthoven

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