Management History: Prior to the 2007 implementation of the IFQ Program, commercial fishermen raced to harvest the quota before the season was closed. Limited access fishing permits, trip limits, closed seasons, and quotas were the primary management tools used to constrain commercial harvest. Overfishing, overcapacity, and short fishing seasons led to unsafe fishing conditions and created market gluts, reducing ex-vessel prices. High bycatch and discard rates often occurred in the fishery. Red snapper stocks were overfished and subject to overfishing since the late 1980s.
Objectives: The primary objectives of the IFQ Program are to reduce overcapacity and to the extent possible, mitigate derby fishing conditions. Ending the “race to fish” was anticipated to help end overfishing and rebuild Gulf of Mexico red snapper, eliminate seasonal closures, increase market stability, increase flexibility and efficiency of fishing operations, improve safety at sea, improve management, compliance, and provide biological benefits to other marine resources.
Key Management Events: Coincident with the introduction of the IFQ in 2007, the commercial quota was also reduced from 4.2 million pounds in 2006 to 3.0 million pounds in 2007 and to 2.3 million pounds in 2008 and 2009. These reductions in quota were implemented to end overfishing and rebuild Gulf of Mexico red snapper stocks and would have occurred regardless of whether the catch share program was implemented. In 2010 and 2011, quota was increased to 3.2 and 3.3 million pounds, respectively. In 2018, the commercial quota was 6.3 million pounds. Utilization of the quota has remained fairly constant.
Performance Trends: Trends in economic benefits as measured by catch share revenue and average prices have generally increased over the course of the history of the Red Snapper IFQ Program. The revenue and pricing information are presented in real terms (adjusted by the GDP deflator index for 2018). As quota fell from 2007 – 2009, red snapper revenue also declined (average decline by 21%), but not as sharply as landings due to higher prices. Between 2010 and 2013, the quota was raised in each year, as did revenue, and in 2018 revenue was $29.9 million, a 97% increase relative to the Baseline period—the average of three years prior to Red Snapper IFQ implementation (2004-2006).
Economic efficiency, as measured by revenue per vessel, increased in 2007 relative to the Baseline period by 24%. In 2018, revenue per vessel was $66,500, a 111% increase when compared to the Baseline period. Capacity, as measured by a reduction in active vessels has also been achieved under the IFQ Program, albeit there has been a slight increase in active vessels in 2010 and 2011 relative to previous years, in part due to higher quotas and in part due to more vessels participating in the IFQ Program.
Derby fishing was also ended, with season length increasing from 121 days during the Baseline period to a full-year, 365 day fishery under the IFQ Program.
Since the IFQ Program began, the number of shareholders declined by 31% compared to the first year of the IFQ Program, with more shares now held by fishermen residing in Florida and less shares held by other Gulf fishermen.
Revenue Distribution: The Gini coefficient measures the evenness of a distribution. Here, it measures the distribution of revenue among entities holding shares in the Red Snapper IFQ Program. A value of 0 indicates that all shareholders earn the same amount of revenue, while a value of 1 indicates that one shareholder earns all of the revenue.
Prior to implementation of the Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper IFQ Program, the Gini coefficient was 0.81 during the Baseline period and has ranged from .73 to .82.