Under the old system, fishermen faced a host of regulations designed to ensure the fleet did not overfish the resource.
These regulations included imposing gear restrictions, seasonal closures, area closures, limits on the number of boats, bimonthly catch limits and other regulations that make harvesting fish less and less efficient and more costly.
"Prior to the new system, an entire years' halibut was harvested in two, six-hour openings," said Weninger. "We're talking about thousands of boats going out there and filling their boats to the point of sinking on the way home with all of these fish."
While the new system has gained popularity in recent years, little was known about how much money would be saved industry-wide.
Weninger and Singh answered that question.
The $18 million to $22 million savings for the Pacific Groundfish fishery will result mainly from reducing the size of the fishing fleet from around 117 vessels, to around 40 to 60 that will be required to catch the government-set limit. That is a reduction of more than 50 percent.
"Basically the revenues stay the same [under the new system], but you're able to harvest those fish at a fraction of the cost," Weninger said.
The old systems had too many redundant boats providing the same service, he added.
The findings are published in the journal Marine Resource Economics.
Weninger said the cost savings could eventually lower prices at the supermarket.
Another benefit for consumers is the availability of fresh fish. In the past, since all the halibut had to be harvested in just a few hours, consumers had to settle for frozen fish for much of the year. Now, with the expanded time window to catch fish, there will be fresh halibut available for more of the year, he said.
Another benefit is safety. Since fishermen won't be required to fish dur
|Contact: Quinn Weninger|
Iowa State University