Discussion Paper

Analysis of Flexibility Mechanisms for Quota-Catch Balancing in Multispecies Individual Fishing Quotas

Nov 22, 2005 | James N. Sanchirico, Daniel Holland, Kathryn Quigley, Mark Fina


Individual fishery quotas (IFQs) are an increasingly prevalent form of fishery management around the world, with more than 170 species currently managed with IFQs. Yet, because of the difficulties in matching quota holdings with catches, many argue that IFQs are not appropriate for multispecies fisheries. Using on-the-ground-experience with multispecies IFQ fisheries in Iceland, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada, we assess the design and use of catch-quota balancing mechanisms. Our methodology includes a mix of interviews with fishery managers, industry representatives, and brokers; literature review; and data analysis. We find that a combination of incentives and limits on use rates for the mechanisms provide sufficient flexibility to the quota owner without the fishery manager incurring excessive levels of overexploitation risk. Contrary to some opinions, these programs are evidence that it is possible to implement IFQ programs for multispecies fisheries and that they can be profitable and sustainable.