Learning to Share the Fish: A Multiple Case Study on the Use of Market-Based Mechanisms in U.S. Federal Fisheries Management
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The problems of subtractability and low excludability often lead to overexploitation of common pool resources such as fisheries. Market-based mechanisms, or catch shares, are a collection of policy innovations increasingly employed in fisheries management to address a variety of policy problems including overfishing and overcapitalization. Catch shares have been successful domestically and internationally in protecting the productivity and sustainability of the resource, the industry, and the culture built around it. Yet, this policy instrument remains controversial for both its intended and unintended consequences and the trade-off between economic efficiency and social equity that is often at the heart of these issues. This thesis traces the innovation in the design and use of catch shares by the Regional Fishery Management Councils to more effectively reach policy objectives over time. I used a multiple case analysis framework based on the existing theory of policy and instrumental learning and policy diffusion to examine how new information, knowledge, and experience was or was not incorporated into a Council's development process of a catch share program. Additionally, I analyzed the learning outcome of each case based on the original design of the management program. Four distinct programs were analyzed that vary temporally from the first catch share implementation in the U.S. to one of the most recent. I found that significant learning occurred overall, however the process and outcome manifested in considerably different ways between the cases. The learning process incorporated the experience of other Councils in employing catch share management and prior experience of a Council had an important influence on later developments by the same Council for other fisheries. The program development in each case was inextricably linked with the unique contextual characteristics of the fishery; this finding emphasizes the importance of reinventing the development process for each new catch share program. The analysis of the four cases showed that Councils have continued to innovate in the development of catch shares, but continue to struggle with preventing unintended consequences such as consolidation. Therefore, learning must continue for catch shares to be an effective and successful tool for the long-term management of fisheries.
- Marine affairs