Last week, Marine Policy released a study by the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) analyzing the relationship of enforcement and compliance behavior in the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) program, a catch share program implemented in 2007. The goal of the study was to better understand how catch shares management affects enforcement and compliance behavior.
The results of the study show that compliance has improved under the IFQ program. Over the past five years, the total number of violations has decreased. The analysis also reveals shifts in the type of violations detected: Violations pertaining to permits, illegal sales, closed seasons and catch limits have decreased, while reporting and record keeping violations have become more common following catch share implementation. The reduction in overall violations is good news and the increase in recordkeeping violations were anticipated as fishermen adjusted to new landing and reporting rules.
United States fisheries are increasingly relying on catch share programs for fisheries management, but the relationship of these programs with compliance and enforcement behavior is not well understood. This study uses historical enforcement records and surveys of fishery participants to investigate how imposition of catch share management in the Gulf of Mexico commercial reef fish fishery has altered patterns of fisheries violations and fisher perceptions of changes in compliance. This fishery has been partially managed under individual fishing quotas (IFQs) since 2007, allowing for comparison of compliance and enforcement prior to and after introduction of catch share management. The shift to catch shares in this fishery has yielded minor but expected changes in enforcement activity. The overall number of cases declined, and the mix of cases shifted: enforcement incidents related to reporting and recordkeeping became more common and catch limit and permit cases declined. These changes are consistent with expectations about the effects of catch shares. However, confidence in these results is limited by the low number of applicable cases, the effects of enforcement effort on case frequency, and the effects of other management system changes during the study—most notably, new vessel monitoring system (VMS) and observer program requirements. Limitations in the enforcement data and survey data both suggest that noncompliance in the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery is higher than suggested by the low number of relevant records in the federal enforcement database, but that compliance has improved in the sector under catch share management. The study concludes that increased enforcement resources may be justified to ensure continued compliance benefits and to ensure the accuracy of landings records.
Reference: Enforcement and compliance trends under IFQ management in the Gulf of Mexico commercial reef fish fishery. Read D. Porter, Zachary Jylkka, Greta Swanson, Environmental Law Institute, 2000 L Street, Suite 620, Washington, DC 20036, USA