• Changes in the value of the Southeast Alaska salmon purse seine limited entry permits following two permit buy back programs

      Shriver, Jennifer Christine (2014-12)
      The Southeast Alaska salmon purse seine fishery (S01A) is an Alaska state waters limited entry fishery. When initially limited by the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission in 1975, 419 permanent permits were issued. As salmon prices dropped in the late 1990s, current and expected future revenues also dropped leading to a decline in the market value of permit. This led permitees to look at different ways to improve their economic position. Reduction of permit numbers through the buyback and permanent retirement of some permits emerged as a preferred option for the S01A fishery; it was motivated as the best means to improve economic conditions in the fishery. After a very long road of regulatory changes at the state and federal level, 35 permits were bought and retired in 2008 using funds provided under a federal grant. A second buyback in 2012, based on a federally backed fishery reduction loan led to the retirement of 65 additional permits. Basic economic principles suggest that resulting decrease in supply of limited entry permits would lead to an increase in the market value of remaining permits. An important policy question is: whether the increased value to permitees is sufficient to offset the cost to taxpayers of financing the buyback. However, conducting that cost-benefit assessment is made difficult because of unrelated but concomitant changes in exvessel prices and catch volumes. During the same time that permits were being removed through the buyback, the exvessel value of salmon increased as did the volume of Southeast Alaska salmon harvests, per-vessel average exvessel gross earnings, and the market value of S01A permits. Econometric analyses based on Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission (CFEC) time series data on S01A permit values, estimated gross earnings, and salmon prices indicate that the buybacks led to statistically significant increases in the asset value of S01A LEPs. In light of the program's stated goals, the buyback was a qualified success in increasing the asset value of S01A permits and removing latent fishing capacity from returning to the fishery as exvessel prices increased. The buyback did not change the fundamental conditions that precondition the Alaska salmon LEP program to systematic vulnerabilities inherent in a management system that does not counter the pernicious race for fish motivations of participants.