||United States commercial fisheries are managed by regional councils whose jurisdictions
are circumscribed by political boundaries. Species range often spans management borders,
linking fishing regions by participation. On the East Coast, individuals commonly
prosecute several fisheries managed by different councils. This study tests both the
existence and magnitude of policy-induced transboundary impacts on fishery participation,
with the goal of providing a quantitative starting point for further investigation
into the economic and social impact of spillover fishing effort.
Regulatory structures vary across a spectrum from open access to individual harvest
rights. In 2010, the New England Fishery Management Council expanded a cooperative
rights-based management program – “sectors” – to enhance stock sustainability and
economic efficiency in the groundfish fishery. Groundfish sector management altered
the deployment of fishing effort in New England. Newly idled groundfish fishers possess
the potential to increase participation in regulated open access Mid-Atlantic fisheries
characterized by low entry barriers.
This study utilizes econometric methods to estimate the transboundary effect of sector
management on Mid-Atlantic fisheries. The use of a difference-in-differences estimation
strategy allows the author to evaluate the causal link between New England sector
management and altered fishing effort directed towards Mid-Atlantic managed species.
Econometric methodology is employed to control for exogenous factors that may also
affect fishing effort and to assess the unobservable policy counterfactual of present
day Mid-Atlantic effort levels in the absence of New England groundfish sectors.
The study finds that the establishment of groundfish sectors does affect Mid-Atlantic
fisheries, but impacts are not uniform across species nor are they uniform across
the 17 groundfish sectors. Further, effort redirection can be more or less pronounced
when looking at the behavior of enrolled sector members, or looking only at those
sector members who are now inactive in New England fisheries. Certain sectors are
identified as redirecting more effort towards Mid-Atlantic species.
While cumulative effort spillover does not seem to be pushing Mid-Atlantic fisheries
perilously close to capacity limits, the identified influx can impact profitability
in effort-receiving fisheries and could potentially have a negative effect on socioeconomic
outcomes in the greater regional fishing economy.