Right now NPR is running an excellent story on ITQs (individual transferable quotas) in fishing. Will post the link when it’s live.
UPDATE: Here’s the link to the transcript and the audio. From the transcript, check out this good discussion of ITQs:
Randy Smith’s share of the catch didn’t increase as much as he expected when he agreed to buy out his colleagues. That’s partly because the allowable catch factors in a certain amount of waste.
“Right now we’re on a two-month quota,” he explains. “We’re given so much fish we can catch in two months, period. That creates waste because when you meet the quota, and when you go over the quota, you’ve got to throw fish away.”
Dead fish just get dumped overboard. Smith says he can’t help that if he wants to work within the rules.
“The net’s on the bottom and you can’t see it, and if you tow for 15 minutes too long, you could have too much fish.”
To address that and other problems, the Pacific Fishery Management Council recently approved a major change to the rules. They’re instituting a new scheme called individual transferable quotas.
Here’s how they work: Smith will get a quota he can fill throughout an entire year, so he’ll have only one deadline to worry about, not six. And he doesn’t have to catch all the fish himself. He can buy, sell or trade quotas. So for example if he accidentally catches too many petrale sole, he can get on the radio and buy shares of petrale quota from another fishermen instead of dumping his fish — dead — back into the sea.