Groundfish: Not Your Average Catch Share Program

Anna Birkenbach, University of Delaware

Catch share programs typically result in longer fishing seasons and higher prices. Northeast Groundfish is not a typical fishery. Understanding the mechanisms by which different management regimes affect fishery outcomes is critical for accurate policy advice. We estimate a two-stage structural model of individual vessel behavior that is grounded in utility theory and designed to elucidate how catch shares influence species targets, timing of fishing activity, and the value generated from the resource. We implement this model using trip-level commercial fishing data from before and after the start of the sector program. We predict stock-specific production at the vessel-day level in a first-stage model and use these predictions in a second-stage discrete choice model of targeting decisions that controls for weather, costs, and prices. We include non-groundfish species in the choice set to capture outside/non-catch share options and policy spillovers into other fisheries. The structural parameters recovered from the second stage are used to simulate the effects of removing days-at-sea regulations and replacing them with catch shares, as well as the effects of out-of-sample policy changes. In addition, we link this model to stock projections under climate change to compare various economic outcomes under different management configurations and across different sub-sections of the fleet.



Anna Birkenbach is an Assistant Professor at the University of Delaware with joint appointments in the School of Marine Science and Policy and the Department of Economics. Anna completed her PhD in 2018 at Duke University in environmental economics and policy. She was a NMFS-Sea Grant Fellow in Marine Resource Economics and currently serves on the Scientific and Statistical Committee of the New England Fishery Management Council. Anna's research interests include behavioral responses to fisheries policy, rights-based fisheries management, modeling decision-making in human-ecological systems, and program evaluation. She has recently published papers in NatureThe Review of Environmental Economics and Policy (REEP), and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).