The rationalization of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands crab fisheries has created a substantial need for economic analysis of the impacts of the program along many dimensions of the fishery. The cessation of the derby system has likely created considerable flexibility for vessel owners, skippers and other decision makers to alter many dimensions of their fishing effort to maximize the value of catch rather than to try to out-compete other vessels for the largest possible share of the TAC. In addition, unique features of the BSAI crab rationalization program - such as the availability of quota share for crew and the loosening of certain quota use restrictions for vessels participating in cooperatives - create additional incentives for decision makers to alter their behavior from the status quo. The margins along which these decisions may occur are numerous. At the micro-scale, rationalization may affect decisions of when and where to place gear in what quantities and the variable intensity of gear usage (e.g. "soak time") and what quantities/grades of crab to land or discard. At higher scales of decision making rationalization may affect the decision of when to leave port (with consideration of anticipated weather conditions) and the usage of fixed (capital inputs such as horsepower, hold capacity, etc.) and variable (fuel usage, labor) inputs. Understanding the effects of rationalization on these operational decisions is critical to the larger scale assessment of the economic benefits and costs of rationalization and their distribution across sectors. We will use data from before and after rationalization to try to understand how these aspects of decision making have evolved.
Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission
October 2008 - August 2011