institutional arrangements for fisheries. For example, the virtual community may not hold exclusive access rights to a fishery but may establish the conditions and constraints for those who do hold access rights in ways that combine long-term stewardship interests with shorter-term economic imperatives. Contractual arrangements among those with communal rights, for some purposes, and those with individual rights, for other purposes, also can be envisioned (Rieser 1997).
A popular, albeit controversial, management scheme for fisheries designed to alter economic incentives involves individual catch quotas. Commonly the individual quotas are transferable, and hence they are known as ITQs (individual transferable quotas). ITQ schemes have been put in place for halibut in Canada and Alaska (Box 5-5) sablefish in Alaska, wreckfish (Polyprion americanus) in South Carolina in 1992 (Gauvin et al. 1993), surf clams (Spisulas solidissima) and ocean quahogs (Arctica islandica) off the northeastern United States (McCay et al. 1995), and various species in many other parts of the world, especially Australia, New Zealand, and Iceland since about 1985. The basic idea is that the
Despite the existence of a limited-entry system in the Canadian fishery, the length of the season declined from 60 to 6 days within a decade. The industry approached the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) for help. DFO worked out an individual fishing-quota program for a two-year term in 1991 and 1992. Quota transfers were initially prohibited. The system was extended another two years with partial transferability, with no more than four shares per vessel. A modified system is still in operation, and quota owners consider the system to be a success. It is an improvement over previous systems from a conservation viewpoint because in the previous 10 years the quota had been overrun seven times and there was too much capacity in the fishery, resulting in significant waste. There are now higher exvessel prices (the price obtained by the fisher when the catch is sold to the wholesaler or seafood broker), fresh fish available throughout the year, and an increase in the number of buyers. Innovative marketing has been implemented. Users pay the monitoring cost. This is a good example of cooperative government-industry problem solving.
Similar difficulties affected the Alaska halibut fishery. The fishery's management had been successful in protecting the resource, but socially and economically it had unfortunate results. The fishery was characterized by overcapitalization and an extreme "derby" fishery (Buck 1995). As a result, an ITQ system was promulgated in 1995 (NMFS 1996a). The results have not been entirely to everyone's liking, but individual quotas have been well received by many segments of Alaska's halibut-fishing industry (Smith 1997).