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Local Permit Ownership in Alaska Salmon Fisheries

Authors
Disciplines
  • Economics

Abstract

Changes in ownership of limited entry permits by “local” residents of the region where a fishery occurs may have significant economic and social implications for fishery-dependent regions. This paper examines changes in local permit ownership in Alaska salmon fisheries, for which a long-term decline in rural local permit ownership is an important policy concern. Theoretically, permit market allocate permits over time to the individuals who are willing to pay the most for them. Any factors that differentially affect what local and non-local residents are willing to pay for permits may affect the equilibrium share of permits held by local residents. For remote rural fisheries in particular, these may include differences between local and non-local residents with respect to access to and costs of financing permits and boats, costs of travel to the fishery, opportunity costs of participation in the fishery, and many other factors. As a fishery increases in profitability, differences between local and non-local residents in access to financing matter more while differences in costs of travel and opportunity costs matter less in the relative ranking of what local and non-local residents are willing to pay for permits. This tends to increase the share of non-local residents among buyers willing to pay the market price for permits, reducing the equilibrium share of permits held by local residents. This leads to a conflict between two important policy goals: increasing fishery profitability and maintaining rural local permit ownership. Consistent with predictions of this theory, the local share of permit ownership in Alaska salmon fisheries is negatively related to permit prices (an indicator of fishery profitability).

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