Despite their apparent economic benefits to harvesters, Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQs) have only been adopted in three U.S. fisheries: Mid-Atlantic surf clam and ocean quahog; South Atlantic wreckfish; and, North Pacific halibut and sablefish. During the 1996 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Congress temporarily blocked implementation of additional IFQ programs in U.S. fisheries. This Congressional action led directly to the emergence of a new institutional structure, the fishing cooperative. Cooperatives offer the advantage of eliminating production externalities that may remain under an IFQ program with relatively large owner classes. Development of IFQ programs appears to be increasingly overwhelmed by the proliferation of both equity concerns and seemingly interminable rent-seeking behavior—both issues that can effectively block adoption of IFQs. By reducing the scope of the equity issues acknowledged, the cooperative alternative narrows the pool of claimants and modifies the behavior of the remainder so as to make implementation more likely. Ironically, while IFQs are widely thought to be best designed at the local/regional level, part of the appeal of the cooperative model is that it appears to shortcut the often-protracted nature of the local/regional political process.
Criddle, K.R. and S. Macinko. Political Economy and Profit Maximization in the Eastern Bering Sea Fishery for Walleye Pollock. In: Microbehavior and Macroresults: Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade, July 10-14, 2000, Corvallis, Oregon, USA. Compiled by Richard S. Johnston and Ann L. Shriver. International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET), Corvallis, 2001.