Trevor Branch (Washington Lead), University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
Ray Hilborn, University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
Washington Sea Grant partnered with California Sea Grant to examine IFQ impacts on the fishery. WSG-funded researchers are focusing primarily on fleet-wide catches, status of fish stocks, and discard practices in the fishery. Results are contributing to team participation in a larger national project to provide neutral, science-based information about catch share performance that compares Northeast and West Coast groundfish programs.
Washington Sea Grant partnered with California Sea Grant to examine IFQ impacts on the groundfish fishery. The California researchers focused on social and economic consequences while the Washington team investigated effects on catch and bycatch levels and the condition of fish stocks.
Findings were surprising. With the greater flexibility afforded by catch shares, researchers expected fleets to come closer to filling their allowed quotas. Instead, the overall catch-to-quota ratio declined significantly in the three years following implementation, from 41 to 29 percent. Meanwhile, nearby Canadian catch ratios declined much less, from 70 to 62 percent. This seems to reflect vigorous U.S. enforcement to protect depleted rockfish species, inhibiting fishing effort generally. Even a pool established by three California fishing communities to spread the risk of quota overages did not produce higher catches. In 2014, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee invited testimony on the team’s findings at a hearing to inform changes in federal fishery laws.