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Addressing questions on the social and economic outcomes of an individual transferable quota fishery Edwards, Danielle Noella

Abstract

In Canada, fisheries are expected to contribute to prosperous coastal communities and the maintenance of stable and viable fishing fleets, alongside other objectives that include conservation and complying with legal obligations to Indigenous Peoples. Individual transferable quotas (ITQs) have been promoted as a management approach to improve the conservation and economic outcomes of fisheries. The use of ITQs in British Columbia (BC) groundfish fisheries is widespread, following successive introductions of ITQs into the fisheries since 1990. There has been no comprehensive evaluation of the social and economic outcomes of ITQ management in the BC fisheries during this time, despite more than a decade of fishery participants and Indigenous and coastal community representatives raising concerns about the negative impacts of quota ownership and leasing. With a focus on the BC Pacific halibut fishery, I construct a database for licences and quota, including ownership and leasing. I examine changes in the ownership profile of the fishery over a 25-year period and consider the extent to which processors exercise control over the quota market through leasing. I construct a financial enterprise model based on accounting principles to assess the impact of quota ownership and leasing prices on the financial performance of owner-operator halibut vessels. I compare the results of this research against objectives for fisheries in Canada, determined through an extensive search of the literature, including current and historical policy and legal documents, conference proceedings, testimony to Senate and House of Commons committees, speeches and briefing material dating from the 1970s. Owner-operators have been increasingly marginalized in the halibut fishery. Owner-operators that have entered the fishery since 2001 catch 15% but own less than 1% of the halibut quota. Lease fees for halibut have regularly exceeded 80% of the landed price, reducing lessee fishing enterprises to minimal earnings that do not support reinvestment or renewal of the fleet. The BC halibut fishery is not meeting objectives for fisheries in Canada with respect to fleet viability and the equitable distribution of benefits. I provide an overview of measures that can be used for a just and fair transformation of fisheries to achieve socio-economic objectives.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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