UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Eyal Frank, University of Chicago

Regulating Biological Resources: Lessons from Marine Fisheries in the U.S.

Date and Location

Thursday, May 16, 2019, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM


Managing renewable resources requires making decisions based on noisy data. Despite the uncertainty of resource management, it is still important to access the efficacy of policies. In this paper, we examine the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (MSA), also known as the “fish bill,” which is internationally regarded as a gold standard in sustainable fishery management. With the use of different reduced-form methods, we place bounds on the effectiveness of rebuilding plans for depleted fish stocks. In event-study designs, we find that following rebuilding biomass increases by over 10-30%, and catch decreases by about 30-50%. However, the results are weaker when considering plausibly valid comparison groups in difference-in-differences and synthetic controls designs. To better understand the impacts of the rebuilding provisions, we analyze whether the policy induces a "race-to-fish" where fish are caught in shorter time periods. We find evidence consistent with a compression of the fishing season which can potentially disrupt their reproduction. Ongoing work exploits comparisons based on biological reference point thresholds, and whether employment in the fishing sector declines while stocks are in a rebuilding phase.

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