The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration implemented marketbased fishery management in the New England groundfishery as catch shares, controlling aggregate harvests through tradable annual catch quotas allocated to fishing groups called sectors. Policy supporters assert that resulting markets raise conservation incentives. In compliance with the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, species assessments permit catch shares to replace more spatially and temporally specific constraints on fishing gear, time, areas, and daily harvest limits. Qualitative evidence from field interviews and participant observation questions the efficacy of catch shares. Fishing industry members observe that increased presence of large trawl vessels in previously protected areas damages fish subpopulations and benthic habitat. Regulatory bioeconomic models fail to consider these lay observations. The consequent inability of quota markets to recognize the materiality of human–environment relationships at the spatiotemporal scales of fishing activity, and to internalize associated externalities, may have devastating consequences for the fishery.

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Society and Natural Resources


Taylor & Francis

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