Moving Targets and Shifting Baselines: Evaluating Catch Shares in U.S. Fisheries


Suzanne Ludicello, Junkyard Dogfish Consulting


Catch shares (a.k.a. quota shares, limited access privileges, etc.) are the latest iteration of a fishery management strategy designed to slow the race to fish, enhance capacity to avoid bycatch, improve economic efficiency, and match fleet capacity to stock abundance. In the most recent reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Act, Congress decided that these programs must demonstrate performance, calling for evaluation after five years, and a National Catch Share Policy recommends periodic review. The challenge in evaluating these programs is steep: most do not have clearly articulated goals or objectives; ecological objectives take years to observe and document; change attributable to the catch share program—particularly in fishery operations and stakeholder behavior—rather than to other policy changes that accompany the action, is difficult to distinguish. Join us in comparing the standards of evaluation design from the National Policy and other sources, with what is feasible for programs designed prior to the evaluation requirement. We look forward to an open discussion of lessons learned from practitioners.

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