Groundfish management in New England changed radically on May 1, 2010. At that time the days-at-sea system was replaced by the catch-share system. Days-at-sea management resulted in a relatively small number of days fishing per boat, gross underfishing as well as overfishing, and exceeding some quotas. This was not satisfactory, so alternative management structures were proposed. As discussion progressed, NOAA directed the New England Fishery Management Council to implement catch-share management.
The catch-share system has been in operation for six months. Unfortunately, it does not appear to be an improvement over the unsatisfactory days-at-sea system. Success has been measured by proponents in terms of revenues which are slightly greater than last year. However, this is an incomplete index. Revenues do not take into account substantial added costs of the catch-share system that include, among other things, the uncertainty of lease costs, sector management and administration, and the cost of additional equipment. Ignored, as well, are social costs induced by laying off crew when quota is exchanged.
There is no available analysis by NOAA on the performance of the new system, but it does appear that the catch-share system has generated an economic crisis. The economic crisis was spelled out in a recent letter from Governor Patrick … To read the remainder of Dr. Rothschild’s speech, please click below.
This speech was originally given by Dr. Rothschild on November 9, 2010 at a forum hosted by the New Bedford Standard-Times called, The Future of Fishing: Catch Shares, Catch Limits, and Beyond – A Way Forward?