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UCSB researchers to examine the effects of year-old NOAA West Coast 'Catch Shares' program
Date:3/21/2012

Santa Barbara, Calif. UC Santa Barbara resource economists Christopher Costello and Robert Deacon will be examining the ongoing effects of a fisheries management system implemented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in January 2011. Their effort is funded as part of a $1 million West Coast Sea Grant social science initiative, funded by NOAA Sea Grant and its partners.

The "catch shares" program was created and put into effect for the West Coast trawl fleet in response to concerns of overfishing and inadvertent catches of protected species and weak stocks in the highly valuable West Coast groundfish fishery, which collapsed in the late 1990's and was declared a federal fishery disaster in 2000.

The program incentivizes cooperation between fishermen, and allows them to switch from the non-selective trawl nets, which have the potential to catch sensitive species and low-value fishes along with the more desirable fishes, to more selective gear, which increases the likelihood of catching the higher-value, healthy fish populations. The program also rewards fishermen who are able to reduce harvests of sensitive, overfished species.

Meanwhile, catch and landings data, provided by NOAA Fisheries, documents the extent to which fishermen are engaging in activities that aid in the cooperative effort.

The program was controversial in its planning stages, with fishing interests reluctant to embrace the new system, as stakeholders, including the fishing industry, crafted the program over a six-year period.

"At the high view, we want to understand the role of catch shares in creating social and economic well-being," said Costello, who studies market-based approaches to resource management and conservation. "Up close, we are asking: 'What is the role of catch shares in solving the weak stock bycatch problem?'"

The researchers also include co-investigators Steve Gaines, professor at the UCSB De
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Contact: Sonia Fernandez
sonia.fernandez@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-4765
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert  

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