The Effect of Catch Restrictions on Recreational Catch

This project is proposed to the Northeast Science Center as a means of understanding how catch
restriction on recreational anglers influence harvest of cod and haddock in New England waters. In
recent years, the competition for harvest between commercial and recreational sectors for near shore
species has increased substantially across the country. This competition has forced fishery managers to
impose more restrictions on the recreational sector, and to consider explicit allocations for the
respective sectors in order to mitigate conflicts between user groups. Recreational restrictions typically
begin with size limits and bag limits. The effectiveness of these restrictions on the recreational sector
depends on how recreational anglers respond to the restrictions. For example, would the imposition of
(example of bag limit on cod) induce anglers to fish more to maintain a given catch or would they fish
less because the expected catch of the species declines? The answer depends on the preferences for
different characteristics of fishing trips by anglers.
This proposal will deal with this problem for the New England groundfish fishery. We plan to estimate
the impact of various management restrictions, including size and possession limits. Ultimately, these
results will help better understand how different policy measures affect anglers’ incentives to engage in
recreational fishing, and how those effects depend on anglers’ characteristics. The research is timely
since recent management amendments and policy proposals have caused concern among recreational
anglers and fishing communities because current policies are already considered fairly restrictive. Many
fishermen allege that severe reductions in quota, changes to size and bag limits, and shorter fishing
seasons for the recreational sector lead to significant losses for anglers.