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Three Essays on the Economics of Fisheries Management


Problems arising from the common-pool nature of fisheries are well known (Gordon 1954). Recent research estimates the lost economic benefits from suboptimal fisheries production to be on the order of $50 billion annually (Arnason et al. 2009). Among the most promising management tools for improving fisheries performance are closed areas (marine reserves) and rights-based management (catch shares) (Worm et al. 2009). This collection of essays examines the emergence and performance of these two policy tools from an economics perspective.

The first chapter examines the determinants of the transition from command and control regulation to rights-based management in common-pool resources. I develop a conceptual framework describing a regulator's decision to adopt a rights-based management regime in a common-pool resource and empirically test the hypotheses advanced in the framework with a duration analysis of rights-based management program adoption in a group of federally managed Alaska fisheries. Consistent with the conceptual framework, I find that rent dissipation along input cost and product value dimensions increases likelihood of program adoption, and high transaction costs decrease likelihood of program adoption. I find mixed evidence that resource depletion increases probability of program adoption.

The second chapter examines the capacity of marine reserves to function as a cooperation mechanism in transboundary fisheries, stocks shared by two or more jurisdictions. Using a game theoretic model, we find that marine reserve implementation can achieve first-best equilibrium economic outcomes. We illustrate our theoretical predictions with a case study of the Chilean loco fishery.

The third chapter estimates the economic and biological outcomes of the implementation of a marine reserve network at the California Channel Islands in 2003 on the Santa Barbara Area red sea urchin fishery. The paper develops an integrated bioeconomic model of the fishery consisting of an age structured population model and a discrete choice model of fishermen behavior linked via the fishing mortality rate. We calibrate the model using a 15-year panel dataset of fishery data and use the calibrated model to simulate outcomes under a counterfactual no-reserve scenario. We find that eight years after reserve implementation, urchin biomass is 53.7% higher, fishery yield is 11.3% lower, and fishery revenue is 10.9% lower compared to simulated outcomes under a counterfactual no-reserve policy.

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