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The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries (2021)

Chapter: 4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries

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Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
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4

Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries

CONCEPTUAL AND THEORETICAL BASIS

Limited Access Privilege Programs (LAPPs) are primarily introduced to meet economic or social objectives, but economists and ecologists recognize several ways by which LAPPs can alter the conservation status of fisheries and provide ecological benefits. As elsewhere in this report, the committee uses the term LAPP and individual fishing quota (IFQ; a common term for similar programs throughout the world) interchangeably. The literature also focuses on individual transferable quotas (ITQs), but tradable quotas are a subset of individual fishing quotas. Not all programs with individual quotas allow trading, and programs that do allow trading often restrict trading in various ways. For example, the bluefin tuna LAPP, a bycatch program, allows only annual leasing of allocations, not the sale of shares.

One pathway to the ecological benefits of LAPPs is that they may provide a stewardship incentive that is lacking in open or limited access fisheries (Costello et al., 2010; Fujita et al., 1998; Grafton et al., 2006). When the access right is secure, durable, and exclusive (Arnason, 2005), individuals stand to benefit in the future from conservation actions taken today. This incentive might be manifested in investments in more sophisticated stock assessment and forecasts, removal of derelict gear, research and development of lower impact gears for avoiding habitat damage or bycatch, or advocating for lower annual catch quotas in the face of uncertainty (Branch, 2009). Removal of derelict gear and reduction of bycatch may have positive impacts on populations of nontargeted species as well (Scheld et al., 2016). Furthermore, the disincentive structure against overfishing is also changed. In LAPPs, the benefits and penalties for catch overages apply to the individual vessel or sector, in contrast to open or limited access fisheries where the benefits of catch overages accrue to those responsible for the violation but the penalty (in terms of reduced fishing opportunities in the following year) is incurred by all members of the fishery.

The committee should note that a range of scientists offer critical assessments of this theoretical link between LAPPs and stewardship (e.g., Acheson et al., 2015; Donkersloot and Carothers, 2017; Foley et al., 2015; Macinko and Bromley, 2004; McCormack 2017; Pinkerton, 2014, 2015; Sumaila, 2010; Van Putten et al., 2014), and in that light it is important to note that by law the

Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×

LAPP quota shares are revocable privileges with limited duration (16 U.S.C. § 1853a(b)) although the committee uses “rights” and “privileges” interchangeably (primarily because the former is used in theoretical discussions and the latter is a result of U.S. law). Nonetheless, the greater liability of individual privilege holders in LAPPs, especially when combined with concurrent accountability measures, is likely to increase incentives to adhere to science-based limits on catch.

A second pathway to ecological benefits is that LAPPs allow for catch:quota balancing when the IFQ is transferable, especially in multispecies fisheries (Branch, 2009; Branch and Hilborn, 2008; Melnychuk et al., 2012; Sanchirico et al., 2006; Squires et al., 1998). Catch:quota balancing refers to the ability of the fleet to fully utilize the quota of abundant or productive stocks without exceeding the quota on depleted or unproductive stocks. This is often challenging in mixed-species fisheries because of the limited ability to target specific species. When quota transfer markets are working effectively, operators can lease quotas as needed to account for imbalances between their quota and catches (Sanchirico et al., 2006). Keeping within the quota is essential to the success of catch limits as major tools for sustainable fisheries.

A third pathway is that LAPPs tend to end or reduce the race to fish (Birkenbach et al., 2017) and thereby reduce or eliminate the adverse ecological consequences that the race to fish can generate. In derby fisheries, the ability to target species is reduced, the likelihood of catch overages is high, and monitoring catch and catch overages might be too slow to allow for responsive management action. As a result, derby fisheries are characterized by overcapitalization, high bycatch rates, damage to vulnerable habitats, and overfishing caused by annual quota overages.

A fourth pathway for ecological effects is that the changes to the fishery monitoring, accountability, and quota-setting processes that often accompany the creation of an IFQ program allow for reduced overfishing. Many LAPPs require robust catch-accounting systems, onboard observers, and an annual catch quota based on a stock assessment. All of these can produce conservation benefits in the form of maintained catches within biological limits, improved stock assessment by enhanced catch monitoring (Rudd and Branch, 2017), and enhanced accounting of incidental catch of vulnerable or protected species. Thus, the limited access privilege itself may not play a direct role in producing ecological benefits, but the regulatory instruments needed to enact the LAPP may nevertheless do so.

All of the above pathways rely on sound design of LAPPs (Bonzon et al., 2013). Improperly designed and implemented LAPPs can induce perverse incentives that lead to fishing practices that erode ecological conditions (Gibbs, 2009). Catch limits that do not apply to discarded fish can lead to highgrading, a wasteful practice in which lower-valued fish are discarded so that the quota can be fulfilled with higher-valued fish (Anderson, 1994). In the absence of robust enforcement and accountability, illegal and unreported catches can erode the ability of the fishery to reach ecological goals.1

EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE FOR ECOLOGICAL IMPACTS OF LAPPs

Because LAPPs have been implemented in many fisheries around the world, there has been significant opportunity to evaluate the evidence supporting the theoretical expectations described above. One common theme that has emerged from this body of work is that ecological indicators tend to show reduced interannual variability in several key indicators of stock health when compared to other fisheries. One of the first lines of evidence was the analysis of landings time series conducted by Costello et al. (2008). They found that periods of very low catches compared to the long-term maximum catches were less common in LAPPs than other fisheries that otherwise

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1See, e.g., https://oceana.ca/en/blog/rise-and-fall-codfather-north-americas-most-notorious-fishing-criminal (accessed July 16, 2021).

Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×

shared similar characteristics. Essington (2010) found similar variance-dampening effects of North American LAPPs on catch:quota ratios, fishing mortality rates, fishery landings, and target species discards, but not for population biomass. Moreover, there was little evidence of reduction in the mean levels of most of these metrics.

Essington et al. (2012) expanded the above analysis to include more than 140 fisheries from around the world, finding a similar overall pattern: catch shares reduce variance in landings and fishing mortality rate, minimally impact the mean levels of ecological indicators, and have no effect on population biomass. The latter finding was consistent with that of Chu (2009), who found no evidence that biomass levels were, on average, greater after program implementation in a review of 20 stocks. Surprisingly, the estimated response in mean fishing rate to catch shares was unrelated to fishing intensity prior to catch share implementation (Essington et al., 2012). That is, the stewardship incentive hypothesis would predict that fisheries with high fishing rates relative to the maximum rate of fishing mortality, or FMSY, would exhibit a decline in fishing rates after LAPP implementation. However, fisheries with such high fishing rates did not have exceptionally large reductions in fishing intensity. At a regional level, LAPPs with high durability (i.e., access privilege extended for long periods of time) had the highest variance dampening in landings and average fishing mortality tended to be reduced in fisheries with high observer coverage and a low proportion of multispecies fisheries.

Melnychuk et al. (2012) took a different approach by asking whether LAPPs promoted fisheries that better met fishery targets. These targets included catch relative to catch quota, fishing rate relative to FMSY, and population biomass relative to BMSY, or the biomass that will allow a fish stock to provide the maximum sustainable yield. LAPPs and partial LAPPs (essentially, LAPPs in mixed-use fisheries where one sector was in a LAPP while others were not) generally had average catches that were closer to annual catch quotas, lower intra-annual variability in catch:quota ratios, and higher catch:quota ratios than other quota-managed fisheries. LAPPs were slightly less likely to have large catch overages, but partial LAPPs frequently had catch overages. Generally, LAPPs did not perform as well as or better overall than comparable quota-regulated fisheries with respect to fishing rates or population biomass. The most prominent effect of LAPPs was in better matching of catches to quotas.

The improved catch:quota balancing of LAPPs is supported by analysis of several specific fisheries, including British Columbia (Branch, 2009), New Zealand, Iceland, and Australia (Sanchirico et al., 2006), and the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (Abbott et al., 2015) multispecies groundfish fisheries. However, recent LAPPs have been less successful. The U.S. West Coast multispecies groundfish fishery has had relatively low catch:quota ratios for many stocks (Kuriyama et al., 2016; McQuaw and Hilborn, 2020). Generally, high-valued target species and one-half of the constraining species (species with low quota that potentially constrain fishing opportunities) had catch:quota ratios near 1, while less valuable species had catch:quota ratios usually less than 0.5. Generally, the U.S. northeast groundfish sector program had similar results; catch:quota ratios were low in that fishery, largely because of the constraints of low catch:quota for overfished Atlantic cod.2

HOW MIGHT LAPPs AFFECT ECOLOGICAL INDICATORS IN MIXED-USE FISHERIES?

The committee is unaware of any systematic meta-analysis conducted to reveal ecological outcomes in mixed-use fisheries. The committee, therefore, takes the experiences from its understanding of how the LAPP components of fisheries change, as well as how LAPPs might alter the

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2See https://catchshareindicators.org/northeast/ecological-indicators/ratio-of-catch-to-quota (accessed July 16, 2021).

Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×

entire fishery system, to produce some hypotheses for how LAPPs might alter ecological outcomes in mixed-use fisheries.

Clearly, if the LAPP component of the fishery system constitutes a large amount of fishing effort and catch, then many of the benefits that are expected from LAPP fisheries might spill over into the entire fishery. If catch overages are reduced and fishing rates are kept within biological limits, then improvements in the LAPP fishery could lead to overall healthier stocks and therefore improved fishing opportunities in fishing sectors that are not part of the LAPP. While it is impossible to know what the biomass trajectory would have been in the absence of the LAPP, lower levels of compliance with total allowable catch (TAC) or other measures would likely have had negative consequences on stock status.

Another possible improvement is through reduced discarding. Although some LAPPs can promote discarding via highgrading, well-designed LAPPs avoid this through effective catch monitoring and counting discards against catch quotas. When discards count against the quota, and these discards are included in stock assessments and part of annual catch limits, it is unlikely that the LAPP itself will have biological consequences. That is, a change in discards will not alter the fishing mortality rate or produce inaccurate stock assessments. If discards are not reported, not incorporated in annual catch limits, and not fully treated in stock assessments, then reductions in discards could benefit the stock. However, unreported catch does not always lead to overfishing. Rather, only when there are temporal trends in the rates of unreported catch are annual catch limits at risk of exceeding biological limits (Rudd and Branch, 2017).

Bycatch of nontarget species in the LAPP component of a mixed-use fishery might also decline and thereby improve overall ecological status. Reducing the race to fish may allow more selective fishing practices, particularly if there is an economic incentive to avoid vulnerable species (e.g., through bycatch quotas or threat of Endangered Species Act listing). Changes in the timing and spatial distribution of fishing have the potential to either increase or decrease nontarget-species bycatch. Finally, if overall fishing effort is reduced in the LAPP—through the consolidation of access privileges to the most efficient operators—then nontarget bycatch rates might also be diminished.

Finally, the introduction of LAPPs in one sector of the fishery might prompt changes in catch accounting that improves management of all fisheries. Creation of LAPPs usually requires a robust catch accounting system. These may include online catch reporting tools that allow vessels to send catch information in near real time. Once these platforms are created, or other more accountable reporting mechanisms are adopted in LAPP fisheries, they may also encourage adoption of similar electronic reporting applications for other sectors not included in the LAPP for mixed-use fisheries (e.g., Topping and Suntz, 2015).

Little is known about how non-LAPP sectors respond to the changes that typically occur in LAPP sectors. While the spatial footprint of fishing likely responds to the introduction of LAPPs (Branch and Hilborn, 2008), the indirect effect of this change on competing sectors is unknown. Furthermore, without explicit goals and objectives for the non-LAPP sectors, it would be difficult to assess any impacts as positive or negative because an impacted factor may not be one of documented importance.

The implementation of IFQs can also have cascading effects on conservation programs for other species in a fishery complex, and particularly those that may be taken as bycatches in species-specific IFQ programs. A cogent example of this is for IFQs in the Gulf of Mexico, which consist of commercial IFQs for red snapper and for grouper-tilefish. The red snapper IFQ program was implemented in January 2007, and commercial allocations have not been exceeded since (see Figure 6.1). Because targeting reef fish often results in catch of multiple reef species (notably 12 groupers and tilefishes), these other species were included in a new IFQ program implemented in January

Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×

2010 (Stephen, 2020). An additional 2-year pilot program for the for-hire (or headboat) sector was implemented for red snapper and gag grouper (Stephen, 2020).

The conservation benefits of the red snapper commercial IFQ program (accounting for 51% of the annual catch allocation) were evident in the elimination of commercial overages (albeit small, see Figure 6.2) leading to improved conservation of the resource. The success of the program in doing this was a significant impetus in developing additional IFQ programs for other species in the reef fish complex (i.e., the grouper-tilefish IFQ plan; Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, 2018a). In this regard, although the major reasons for the IFQ were economic, the result has been a program of increased adherence to conservation guidelines (at least by the commercial sectors). Thus, in contrast to the typical “serial depletion” scenario seen in many mixed-species fisheries (Orensanz et al., 1998; Pauly et al., 2002), the implementation of IFQs for some species and sectors in mixed-use and mixed-species fisheries may have the opposite effect in improving conservation of mixed resources (i.e., “serial conservation”).

EVALUATING ECOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES OF LAPPs IN MIXED-USE FISHERIES: CASE STUDIES

In the fisheries below, the committee takes a limited view of the ecological consequences that might have resulted from the implementation of a LAPP in a mixed-use fishery. The committee’s view is limited because only changes in the LAPP component of the fishery are considered (particularly those that might provide benefits or adverse consequences to other uses), but not the ecological consequences that might result from individuals leaving one fishery and entering another. The committee also does not consider how the formation of a LAPP-altered behavior in other fisheries on the same stock, largely because of a paucity of information or evidence. Finally, elements of the LAPP—the limited access privilege and accompanying monitoring and accounting to support it—are separated out from other regulatory changes that might have been adopted (e.g., gear, and size or area restrictions) at the same time.

Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper LAPP

Did the LAPP Lead to Improved Catch:Quota Balancing in the Commercial LAPP?

No evidence.

The red snapper LAPP annual report documents that the ratio of landings to quota have fluctuated without trend slightly below 100% since the introduction of the LAPP in 2007 (see Figure 6.1). However, landings to quota is an imperfect measure of the ability to match catches to allowable limits because it does not account for discards. In this fishery, discarded fish do not count against quota. Indeed, a substantial fraction of the total catch is discarded by the commercial LAPP (i.e., among those with IFQ shares). Depending on the gear and location, the mortality rates of discarded red snapper range between 56% and 64%, based on a meta-analysis of mortality rates as a function of fishing method, fishing depth, and season. Thus, catch overages, when large, could affect the ability of the fleet to achieve fishing mortality targets.

The committee uses discard ratios (fraction of fish captured that were discarded) as a proxy for catch:quota balancing. Discard fractions were calculated using the age composition reported for each region and gear combination for the LAPP component of the fishery, estimated size at age, estimated number of discards for each gear, region, combination, and the reported landings. Overall, the vertical line (bandit and handline) fishery component of the LAPP catches, lands, and discards a far greater volume of red snapper than the longline component (see Figure 4.1). In this

Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×
Image
FIGURE 4.1 Estimated discard fractions (proportion discarded) for each gear type (LL = longline, VL = vertical line) and region.
SOURCE: SEDAR, 2018.

dominant component, the fraction of fish discarded fluctuated between 0.05 and 0.35 in the western Gulf of Mexico, with no apparent trend through time. Discard fractions were substantially larger in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, fluctuating between roughly 0.15 and 0.65, with particularly high discard fractions in 2009-2012. Discard fractions in the longline fleet fluctuated more significantly (likely due to overall lower catches) but were generally low in the western region (except in 2014), and were exceptionally high in the eastern region particularly after 2010.

These data—while imperfect because they lack a basis of comparison to inform the counterfactual—do not support the hypothesis that catch:quota balancing was improved by LAPP implementation. In this case, the program design—wherein discards are allowed but do not count against individual quota—would not be expected to improve catch:quota balancing, as there is no immediate economic incentive to do so. The committee recognizes that these estimates only apply to fishing activities with available shares, and so do not account for discards onboard vessels where available shares had already been landed. Discards among those vessels and trips can be substantial, equaling or exceeding those estimated to occur on vessels with available share (SEDAR, 2018). Finally, the committee relies on data on reported and estimated landings, yet changes in enforcement and inventive structure may have improved compliance and reduced unreported catch.

Did the LAPP Contribute to Improved Stock Status
(and therefore spill over to the recreational sectors)?

Unlikely.

While stock status has increased since the 2007 inception of the LAPP, there is no evidence that this improvement is related to the LAPP itself. Rather, the improvement is attributed to the

Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×

rebuilding plan that drastically reduced quotas and curtailed recreational seasons and bag limits beginning in 2007. This has resulted in fishing mortality levels that are well within biological limits, and subsequent recovery of spawning biomass. The benefits of this recovery have not been distributed evenly across the Gulf, as recent recruitment trends indicate roughly twice the rate of recruitment in the western compared to eastern Gulf since the late 2000s. However, the 2018 stock assessment suggests that the recent spatial pattern of recruitment is likely more reflective of long-term average conditions, while the period of the late 1990s and early 2000s—where recruits were shared approximately evenly across the regions—was unusual. The 2016 spawning biomass estimate is below the management target but above the minimum biomass limit.

The committee cannot directly assess how changes in catch accounting might have improved stock assessment and management decisions based on the assessment. The committee recognizes that the LAPP included adoption of an electronic landings record that provides nearly real-time information on landings.

Did the LAPP Affect Discarding?

Unclear.

Agar et al. (2014) concluded that the LAPP was associated with substantially reduced discard rates, particularly in the western region. This claim was based on a comparison of the number of discarded fish between the periods 2002-2007 and 2007-2011. However, the committee is aware that the Council changed the minimum size limit from 15 to 13 inches in 2007, and several participants of the fishery claimed that this size regulation was responsible for lowering discards (i.e., regulatory discards were reduced). The panel is unaware of data on the age structure of discards prior to 2007 that could be used to partition discards on the basis of size limits. The committee therefore does not support the claim by Agar et al. (2014), because it is not possible to distinguish effects of the LAPP from those caused by the accompanying regulatory shift.

Because discards do not count against the landings quota, there is the potential for highgrading, where more valuable-sized fish are retained while others are discarded. The committee evaluated evidence for highgrading—and how it varied through time—for each gear and region by calculating the proportion of fish captured that were discarded for each age class (see Figure 4.2). The vertical line fishery showed clear patterns of discarding by fish age, where discard rates were greatest at young and older ages (this gear generally captures fish less than 11 years old). Discard rates were high for young fish because these were below the 13-inch minimum retention limit. In most years and in both regions, discard fractions increased as age increased from 5-6 years to age 11. As there are no regulatory restrictions on older (and larger) fish, this pattern is most likely due to a combination of highgrading and the restrictive nature of the overall TACs. Nevertheless, highgrading in a commercial fishery is a complex problem because different specialty markets and retailers may prefer either larger (e.g., fillets) or smaller (e.g., whole fish preparations) fish.

In comparison, the longline fleet showed little pattern in discarding proportions across ages, but this may be due to the relatively smaller sample size of observed longline discards.

The committee concludes that highgrading is occurring in this LAPP fishery, but also notes that the volume of discarding due to highgrading is relatively low. This is because the vertical line gears have selectivity toward smaller (and younger) fish, aged 7-8 years and under (SEDAR, 2018), and therefore catch small amounts of fish aged 9 years and older. The committee cannot evaluate whether highgrading is occurring more or less intensely than the period prior to the LAPP because of the absence of age-composition data prior to 2008.

Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×
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FIGURE 4.2 Proportion of fish captured that were discarded versus age. Each line denotes a different year (see legend). Lines only span ages that were captured in a given year. High variability in the longline fleet likely is a consequence of the smaller sample size. Stem plots above main panels represent the age composition of total catch for each gear and region combination.
SOURCE: SEDAR, 2018.

Did the LAPP Affect Unwanted Bycatch on Trips Targeting Red Snapper?

Unknown.

Reducing unwanted bycatch was not among the goals of the red snapper LAPP. For that reason, unwanted bycatch—including interactions with endangered, threatened, or protected species—has not been analyzed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) or the Gulf Council.

Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×

Gulf of Mexico Grouper-Tilefish LAPP

Did the LAPP Lead to Improved Catch:Quota Balancing?

Possibly, but not with ecological benefits.

This multispecies fishery assigns quotas to groups or individual species: gag grouper, red grouper, deepwater grouper, shallow-water grouper, and tilefish. For the three multispecies groups, a single species has generally dominated the landings (yellowedge grouper, scamp, and golden tilefish, respectively). As is true of the red snapper fishery, quotas only apply to landings, although the quotas are set with consideration of expected levels of discards. For that reason, the design does not provide the same incentives for catch:quota balancing as would LAPPs that set quota on catch instead of landings.

There are two important dimensions to catch:quota balancing: one is economic and the other is ecological. The economic dimension refers to the ability of the fleet to land the full amount of quota that is allocated to it. Here, the emphasis is on avoiding quota underages. The ecological dimension refers to the ability to maintain catches within biological limits. Here, the emphasis is on quota overages. While catch:quota balancing may be relevant for the economic performance of the fishery, it has less relevance for ecological performance because landings are well below quotas.

Did the LAPP Lead to Improved Stock Status?

Partly, depending on species.

Because the LAPP has been in place for only 11 years, it is challenging to identify changes in population size, let alone attribute any such change to the LAPP per se. Population biomass is governed by fishing and also environmental events that affect recruitment, mortality, and growth. Many of these species suffer mortality during toxic algal blooms (“red tides”). For that reason, the committee focuses attention on fishing mortality rate relative to biological limits (FMSY or relevant proxy). For red grouper, fishing mortality rate has fluctuated without trend from 2000 to 2018 (SEDAR, 2019). For gag grouper, fishing mortality was notably lower post-LAPP, 2010-2015 (averaging 0.10), compared to the 5 years prior to the LAPP (0.42), and the six lowest mortality rates over the past 20 years occurred post-LAPP. Prior to the LAPP, fishing mortality rates regularly exceeded FMSY proxies. Current fishing mortality rates are below overfishing limits (SEDAR, 2014). A stock assessment is currently ongoing for scamp, and there has not been a stock assessment for yellowedge grouper or golden tilefish that spans the post-LAPP period.

As noted for the red snapper fishery, it is possible that the improved landings accounting system, combined with at-sea observers, have improved data quality and timeliness and therefore improved the precision and accuracy of stock assessments.

Did the LAPP Reduce Discards and Unwanted Bycatch?

Not likely.

The 5-year review of this LAPP provides compelling evidence indicating that discarding remains common in this fishery, owing to size restrictions and the inability to effectively target fish above retention limits, other regulatory requirements, and market conditions (highgrading) (Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, 2018a; Pulver and Steven, 2019). Highgrading was most significant for tilefish and deepwater grouper, but was less common (<5% of discards)

Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×

for gag grouper, red grouper, and shallow-water grouper. While the ratio of retained to discarded red grouper was generally lower post-LAPP, this reduction is coincident with the reduction of the minimum size limit for red grouper in the commercial fisheries from 20 to 18 inches in 2009 (Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, 2018a; SEDAR, 2019; see Figure 4.3).

Because of the interplay of a number of simultaneous management measures it is often difficult to assign cause and effect, especially with respect to the implementation of LAPPs. Figure 4.3 illustrates changes over time in the management measures implemented for the red grouper component of the grouper-tilefish IFQ. Red grouper is the dominant commercial and recreational grouper catch in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The LAPP for grouper-tilefish was implemented in 2010, 1 year after the increase in commercial size limits from 18 to 20 inches in 2009 (the recre-

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FIGURE 4.3 Summary of federal management regulations for Gulf of Mexico red grouper.
SOURCE: SEDAR, 2019.
Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×

ational size limit has been 20 inches for many years). Also, in 2009 the recreational bag limit was increased from two to three, while the aggregate grouper possession limit was decreased from five to four. Landings of red grouper initially increased following 2010 for both recreational and commercial sectors of the fishery (see Figure 4.4), peaking in 2013-2014 but declining precipitously to near time-series lows in 2017.

Discards in the commercial sectors show divergent paths, with increases in discards followed by precipitous drops for the vertical longline (see Figure 4.5) and a sharp decline in 2009 (coincident with lowering of the size limit to 18 inches) in the demersal longline category (as noted above). For both sectors the levels of discards in the most recent assessment year (2017) were at or near time-series lows. Recreational discards did not show coherent patterns with commercial sectors (see Figure 4.6). While the headboat discard levels have declined somewhat since the implementation of the commercial IFQ, charter vessel discards have remained relatively high. Private vessel recreational catches (which accounted for 84% of the total recreational catch during 2013-2017) declined by more than half since 2015 coincident with the decline in overall catch, despite a reduction in the bag limit to two in most of 2015 and beyond 2015 (see Figure 4.3). Some of the differing trends may be because discards for headboats are self-reported through the Southeast Regional Headboat Survey, whereas private and charter vessel discards are estimated via the Marine Recreational Information Program/Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey. There was a change in the methodology used for headboat discards before and after 2007. Prior to 2007 the ratio of kept to discard for the headboat catch was estimated based on the kept to discard ratio from the other two sectors (SEDAR, 2019).

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FIGURE 4.4 Recreational and commercial landings of red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico, 1990-2017.
SOURCE: SEDAR, 2019.
Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×
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FIGURE 4.5 Trends in commercial discards for red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico.
SOURCE: SEDAR, 2019.
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FIGURE 4.6 Discards in three recreational sectors for the red grouper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.
SOURCE: SEDAR, 2019.
Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×

The totality of the conservation plan for red grouper commercial sectors has seen a decline in the overall levels of discards in both fishery sectors. The institution of the LAPP has reduced the race to fish and thus the incentive to target low-valued small fish. However, other coincident factors (size limit changes) were, at least initially, responsible for the continued low level of discarding.

As noted above, the committee is unaware of any analyses that have examined rates of unwanted catches and, in particular, interactions with protected species before and after the LAPP was implemented.

Highly Migratory Species: Bluefin Tuna

Did the LAPP Reduce Discards?

Yes.

Theoretically, a LAPP for bycatch functions much like a LAPP for a target fishery by aligning individual incentives of individual vessels with management goals. Without a LAPP, a fleetwide quota on bycatch can incentivize a race to bycatch harvest just as there is a race to fish in a target fishery with a fleetwide total allowable catch because the costs of bycatch avoidance are borne individually, while the benefits accrue to all vessels (Abbott and Wilen, 2009). Although vessels may not actively seek out bycatch, they have little incentive to avoid it actively, but with individual bycatch quotas, vessels can internalize the common-pool externality. The expected value of bycatch quota is challenging to predict because it is tied to the profitability of the target fishery, the prevalence of the bycatch species, and the associated costs of avoiding bycatch. One important factor in determining this value is the magnitude of the overall bycatch quota allocation relative to the underlying prevalence of the bycatch species.

In many cases, the potential to avoid bycatch may be underestimated if based on catch composition from before an IBQ program is created, as incentives under the program unleash previously unrealized substitution possibilities (Abbott et al., 2015). In these cases bycatch allocations may be overly generous, leading to very low prices for quota. However, it is also possible for managers to overestimate the ability to avoid bycatch, leading to excessively stingy bycatch quota allocations. In such cases, bycatch may serve as “choke” species, such that the value of the target harvest entirely capitalizes into the bycatch quota price while the prices of target species collapse (Sanchirico et al., 2006). Finally, if bycatch is infrequent, there might also be issues with thin markets for bycatch quota as there are for low-quota species that are caught in multispecies trawl fisheries (Holland and Jannot, 2012).

The LAPP for bluefin tuna is unique because it was designed with the express purpose of reducing fishing mortality in the pelagic longline fishery. Prior to the IBQ system, this fishery routinely captured more bluefin tuna than the allocation of bycatch to the fleet overall. Although catch overages were discarded, the level of dead discards resulted in far more bluefin tuna being killed than the annual quota by a factor of two to three (NMFS, 2019). The 3-year review of this program indicates that the goal of the program was achieved. Total catch of bluefin tuna declined sharply and immediately following implementation of the LAPP. Catches (landings plus dead discards) are between one-half and two-thirds of the base quota allocated to the longline fleet (NMFS, 2019). Figure 4.7 illustrates these before-and-after trends.

Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
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Image
FIGURE 4.7 Bluefin tuna landings and dead discards in years before the IBQ (2012-2014) and after (2015-
2018). SOURCE: Figure 3.1 in bluefin tuna 3-year review, NMFS, 2019.

South Atlantic Wreckfish

Did the LAPP Improve Catch:Quota Balancing?

Unlikely.

The wreckfish LAPP was the first finfish IFQ program instituted in the United States. It was primarily instituted because capacity was far greater than needed to fulfill the total allowable catch regulations put in place in 1990. Since that time, landings relative to quota have fluctuated based largely on changes to quota, which was reduced from 2 million pounds to 223,000 pounds in 2012 (Yandle and Crosson, 2015), and then increased roughly twofold in 2015 based on an updated stock assessment (Radameyer and Butterworth, 2014). Annual landings during this time fluctuated without trend between 190,000 and 376,000 pounds.

Did the LAPP Improve Stock Status?

Unlikely.

According to the 2014 stock assessment, the stock was not overfished and did not experience overfishing for any year since 2000. The landings in the late 1980s and early 1990s were substantially (roughly fivefold) greater than most recent landings, and exceeded estimated maximum sustainable yield by a factor of two to five. Landings were reduced substantially beginning in 1995, largely due to market demands that led shareholders to target other species (Yandle and Crosson, 2015). Thus, the removals relative to biological limits were governed by opportunities to increase revenue in other fisheries, rather than by the LAPP itself.

Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×

Did the LAPP Reduce Discards and Other Unwanted Bycatch?

Unknown—insufficient data and analysis.

The committee is unaware of any detailed analysis that examined changes in discarding practices and bycatch. The latest 5-year annual review (SAFMC, 2019) notes that information on discards and bycatch is limited to logbook and other fishery-dependent data, collected from a single fishing region in South Carolina.

Mid-Atlantic Golden Tilefish

Did the LAPP Lead to Improved Catch:Quota Balancing?

No.

Generally, the ratio of catch to quota in the commercial LAPP has been relatively high and similar to levels seen prior to the implementation of the commercial LAPP. In the baseline period (2002-2009) catch:quota averaged 94%, and has fluctuated between 102% and 80% since then (MAFMC, 2017). The annual catch limit has not been exceeded in any of these years.

Did the LAPP Improve Stock Status?

Unlikely.

The stock is currently not being overfished and not subject to overfishing (Nitschke, 2017). This is largely due to successful rebuilding that began in 2003 and continued through 2012 (Nitschke, 2017) that reduced fishing mortality through a constant catch harvest control rule. Spawning stock biomass has increased steadily from a low in 1999 to the present, and a strong recruitment event in 2014 will likely continue that trend (Nitschke, 2017).

Did the LAPP Reduce Discards and Other Unwanted Catch?

The LAPP likely reduced discards. The effect on other unwanted catch is unknown.

Under the LAPP, discarding is prohibited. This prevents highgrading, which could otherwise impose increased fishing mortality because discard mortality is very high for these deep-dwelling fish. However, at-sea monitoring is limited in this fishery, so compliance with this regulation is not easily confirmed. There is no information on unwanted catch of other species in available reports and documents.

SUMMARY AND SYNTHESIS

The implementation of LAPPs can have beneficial ecological impacts in mixed-use fisheries. The leverage that improved conservation within sectors of the fishery included in the LAPP has on meeting overall annual catch limits for the fish stocks is very much dependent on the proportion of the total fishery accounted for in the LAPP. For red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico (51%/49% split between commercial and recreational sectors), the elimination of commercial quota (landing) overages likely has been an important conservation tool, yet the full ecological consequences are difficult to discern because of discard mortality. This is, however, tempered by the fact that recreational

Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×

catches for the same stock continue to exceed their allocations (see Figure 6.1). An experimental LAPP for the for-hire sector of the red snapper recreational fishery (a small component of the overall recreational fishery) resulted in eliminating exceedances in that part of recreational fishery (see Figure 6.1) but overall, the recreational portion of red snapper continues to exceed its regulated catch limit, thereby undermining the benefits to be accrued from more effective implementation of fishing mortality limits and thresholds. The importance of the LAPP outcome in this context is that it focuses the debate on sources of nonadherence to allocations in recreational sectors and how to solve them. Thus, for example, the Council implemented an experimental ITQ for the for-hire sector to help eliminate one source of allocation overrun, which was successful (see Figure 6.1).

As is true for all policy interventions, the outcome of LAPPs depends critically on design elements, and the LAPPs in mixed-use fisheries that are evaluated here were designed primarily to address economic or regulatory objectives, as opposed to specific ecological objectives. Consequently, it is not surprising that these LAPPs, in general, did not produce widespread ecological consequences. The one notable exception was the bluefin tuna IBQ program, which was designed specifically to minimize bycatch in the commercial longline fishery and where there was a clear and substantial benefit in the form of a sharp reduction in catch overages and other regulatory discards in the commercial fishery. However, in many of these LAPPs, discards do not count against the quota. Therefore, there was less incentive to match catches to quota, and nonregulatory discards remained common.

In theory, eliminating the “race to fish,” often seen in traditionally regulated fisheries, should result in increased incentives to target the most valuable (generally larger) individuals in a population and therefore reduce regulatory discards by avoiding aggregations of undersized fish. Of the LAPPs in mixed-use fisheries that were evaluated, discards in those sectors were either small or had inconsistent patterns in regulatory discards. Where present, attributing declines to modified behavior of fishers as caused by LAPPs is frustratingly elusive. Moreover, in at least one case (Gulf of Mexico red snapper), the large reduction in regulatory discards was due to a change in the size regulation that was bundled with the LAPP provisions. While the program as a whole, was effective at reducing regulatory discards, it would be a mistake to attribute this success exclusively to the LAPP.

Additional conservation measures that may be attributed to LAPPs include induction of “serial conservation” (at least through improved conservation of bycatch species). It is also an outcome from some LAPPs but is highly dependent on the circumstances of coincident fisheries. Similarly, quota balancing in mixed-species fisheries may create a strong incentive to meet but not exceed fishing mortality rate targets for complexes of stocks. More broadly, when overfishing is eliminated and stocks are no longer overfished, stocks become less volatile (less susceptible to being “recruitment fisheries”) and thus more resilient to year-to-year recruitment fluctuations. This has important ecological consequences for damping catch fluctuations and for trophic interactions when these species are both prey and predators.

Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
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×
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Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×
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Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×
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Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×
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Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×
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Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
×
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Suggested Citation:"4 Ecological Impacts of LAPPs in Mixed-Use Fisheries." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26186.
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A central goal of U.S. fisheries management is to control the exploitation of fish populations so that fisheries remain biologically productive, economically valuable, and socially equitable. Although the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act led to many improvements, a number of fish populations remained overfished and some fisheries were considered economically inefficient. In response, Congress amended the Act in 2006 to allow additional management approaches, including Limited Access Privilege Programs (LAPPs) in which individuals receive a permit to harvest a defined portion of the total allowable catch for a particular fish stock.

This report examines the impacts of LAPPs on mixed-use fisheries, defined as fisheries where recreational, charter, and commercial fishing sectors target the same species or stocks. The report offers recommendations for NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Regional Fishery Management Councils (the Councils) who oversee and manage federally regulated fisheries. For each of the five mixed-use fisheries included in the report, the committee examined available fisheries data and analyses and collected testimony from fishery participants, relevant Councils, and NMFS regional experts through a series of public meetings.

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