Regulatory Change, Market Structure, and Fatalities: The Case of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Fishery
In fisheries, regime shifts from common-pool to tradable individual quota rights have led to a reduction in race-to-fish behavior—in particular under adverse weather conditions, and thus to a reduction in the rate of fatal injuries. At the same time, tradability of quota rights has led to some fleet consolidation, along with a shift to larger vessels, which may have also affected safety. We isolate the role of changing fleet composition and size in the overall reduction of fatal injuries by simulating a counterfactual scenario: what weather conditions fishermen would brave if quota rights were individual but not tradable and thus could not have been a factor in fleet consolidation. Looking at the specific case of the U.S. reef fish fishery in the Gulf of Mexico to calibrate our model, we find that consolidation boosts the safety gains by 10–15%: while the remaining active vessels are inherently less safe and target much larger annual catches (thus finding it more difficult to avoid poor weather conditions), they are also more efficient, thereby reducing overall labor-hours and exposure to risk.
KeywordsQuota Commons Occupational hazard Firm size Fisheries
JEL ClassificationJ2 Q22 K2 D2
The authors thank Devin Lucas of the Centers for Disease Control and James G. Law of the U.S. Coast Guard for data and Eric Thunberg for valuable feedback on an earlier version.
The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOAA, whose support Grant EA-133F-12-BA-0034 is gratefully acknowledged.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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