"The difference is comparable to renting an apartment versus the house you own," says Costello. "If you own something, you take care of ityou protect your investment or else it loses value. But there's no incentive for stewardship when you don't own the rights to it."
The Alaskan halibut fishery is a prime example of success. In 1995, when the fishery converted to ITQs, the total season had dwindled from about four months down to just two or three days. These dangerous sprints resulted in boats with their holds crammed full of frozen fish; by the time the overloaded processing facilities could accommodate them, quality had suffered. Today, the season lasts nearly eight months. Because boats now haul in fresh, undamaged fish in manageable quantities, the per-pound price has increased significantly.
"Halibut fishermen were barely squeaking by but now the fishery is insanely profitable," says co-author Steve Gaines, Director of the Marine Science Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
The authors emphasize that for all their strengths, catch shares are not a panacea. Strategies vary widely, and must be carefully designed and continually fine-tuned to meet the goals of the ecosystems, economies and societies they are meant to serve. Controls such as consolidation caps, which prevent any one entity from owning too much of a given fishery, and community-owned quotas have worked in some cases to help maintain vibrant ports and fisheries. Some design features however, such as how shares are allocated between individuals and processors, can be contentious, as in the Alaskan king crab fishery and elsewher
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