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The Economics of Political Participation and Distribution in Fisheries Management


Economists have characterized efficient policy remedies for market failures, but inefficient institutions persist. When changes in policy also result in a change in distribution of wealth, even the most efficient policies can be politically infeasible. In many settings, successful policy adoption requires a trade-off between efficiency and distribution. In a common pool resource setting, the transition to secure, tradeable property rights can be economically beneficial and improve the health of the resource, but is often met with resistance. Individual transferrable quotas (ITQ), have encountered a considerable amount political opposition despite their well-documented improvements of harvesting efficiency and fishery health. This paper provides an empirical examination of the role of distributional concerns that influence an agent's preference for a proposed change in the Alaskan sablefish (blackcod) and halibut fisheries. I construct a data set of consisting of nearly 4,000 public political participation records regarding ITQ implementation in the Alaska halibut and sablefish fisheries. I use a novel individual level dataset of public comments and catch data to test whether fishers who show that the allocation of catch influences whether a person or entity is in favor of the policy.

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