Monday, March 5, 2018

Down with quotas

Economists hail the ITQ- individual transferable quota- as a success story, limiting catch to protect a fishery while also improving safety. What economists are blind to is the distributional impacts.

Economists argue that free trade is a great thing, improving the "size of the pie" rather than just moving money from one person's hand to another. Although economists acknowledge that trade always has winners and losers, our mantra has always been, "If the winners compensate the losers, then everyone can end up better off." That may be true, but how often do the winners compensate the losers?

The same idea is happening in fisheries. As more and more ITQs fall into the same hands- and, importantly, in most cases these aren't the hands of the people doing the fishing- some negative consequences emerge. I don't want to spoil it for you: take a look at the complaints of the fishers in this article. Hat tip to Ngaio Hotte, @nhotte, a great Twitter follow for Resource Econ issues.

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