FIS006: Modelling the incentives for the Landing Obligation

Start Date: Jan 2015

End Date: Sep 2015

Main Contractor(s): University of Portsmouth

Other Sponsor(s): European Fisheries Fund

Extended Title: Mapping and modelling the incentives for a landing obligation in demersal fisheries

Main Research Category: Discard Reduction - Quota

View Final Report

View accompanying outputs from the models for TR1 and TR2


Project Objectives

The aim of the research is to enhance our understanding of the economic incentive structure of a multispecies quota fishery in the context of a landing obligation. Using a modelling approach informed by quantitative and qualitative data collected in the field we will map and analyse the incentives for catching, retaining and landing different quota species under various enforcement and market scenarios. The results of the study will inform policy makers about the likely behavioural impacts of introducing a landing obligation (discard ban) in mixed demersal fisheries.


Specific Objectives:

The project will combine theoretical research and mathematical modelling with empirical data collection through surveys and interviews with relevant stakeholders (fishermen, Marine Scotland, POs and merchants). The work will be undertaken by the Principal Investigator (PI) aided by a Research Associate (RA).

The following project stages and work plan are envisaged, assuming a project life of 9 months (to end on 31 July 2015).

  1. Background research/literature review (Months 1-3)

We will undertake a review of the literature on the economics of discarding in fisheries and related management and enforcement issues and carry out background research to identify the case-study fishery area and key stakeholders for interview/survey.

  1. Interviews/surveys in case-study fishery (Months 4-6)

We will undertake interviews with policy makers, managers and industry, including POs, fishermen and fish buyers/processors. The aim is to obtain as much information as possible about current and likely future policy in practice as well as data on the costs and benefits of targeting or avoiding different quota species, the expected costs of discarding and the expected costs and benefits of landing. This will include consideration of the costs of quota (shadow costs in the case of non-tradeable quotas).

  1. Mapping/modelling the incentive structure of the fishery (Months 4-9)

This is the analytical/synthetic phase of the work and involves the development of a model of a managed fishery incorporating the costs and benefits of fishermen’s decisions around catching and landing quota species. Model development can proceed while data to calibrate the model is being collected. The intention is that the model can be used to illustrate the effects (both anticipated and unanticipated) of changing the incentive structure of a quota-managed fishery by introducing a discard ban or landing obligation under different assumptions about the benefits and costs of fish landings, including over-quota and undersize fish.


Summary of Project Outcomes

Under the revised Common Fisheries Policy, a landing obligation (discard ban) will be introduced for all EU demersal fisheries from 2016. By 2019, a landing obligation is due to be in place for all quota species, i.e., all species subject to Total Allowable Catches (TACs).

Against this background, the aim of this FIS-funded project was to build a vessel-level discarding model for Scottish demersal whitefish and prawn (Nephrops) trawlers in order to investigate discarding behaviour under different assumptions about the costs and benefits of complying with the landing obligation. Depending on average daily catch rates and prices, the model predicts landings, discards and profits for fishing trips of varying lengths under different assumptions about the enforcement of a discard ban and penalties for illegal landings.

The study is designed to complement, rather than duplicate, other sectoral-level modelling and impact assessments of the landing obligation by focusing specifically on the behaviour of individual fishing vessels under a landing obligation for different species.

The model is informed by economic theory and is underpinned by a survey of demersal and prawn trawler skippers based in North East Scotland. Skippers were interviewed about their discarding behaviour and their perceptions about the likely impact of the landing obligation on their fishery. The model predicts levels of discards of different species in response to a variety of factors including market prices, quota prices and the size of the vessel’s hold, in addition to the expected penalty costs of discarding at sea or landing fish without quota.

The model can be used to illustrate the difficulty of imposing a discard ban in a multispecies fishery when there are quota supply constraints for “choke” species as well as limits on the amount of storage space available in a vessel’s hold or fish room. It clearly demonstrates how discarding needs to be perceived as a costly activity if a landing obligation is to be effectively enforced in practice.

The model is intended to be useful for fisheries policy makers and managers seeking to understand the incentive structure of a landing obligation at the individual vessel level, as well as fishing industry representatives wanting to examine the possible implications of the landing obligation for various types of fishing vessel under different policy scenarios.