Article Highlight | 8-Aug-2023

Marine Resource Economics announces the 2023 winner of its Outstanding Article Award

University of Chicago Press Journals

Marine Resource Economics (MRE) is pleased to present the 2023 Outstanding Article Award to Ted E. Gilliland, James N. Sanchirico, and J. Edward Taylor for their article “A Bioeconomic Local General Equilibrium Assessment of Distributional Consequences of Small-Scale Fisheries Reform in Developing Countries,” MRE 37(2): 111-134.

In the article, Gilliland, Sanchirico, and Taylor develop an economic model to assess the short and long-run effects of fisheries reform for local economies in developing nations. Coastal fisheries in many developing nations are characterized by poorly defined property rights and weak collective governance, such that the fish stock is essentially an open access resource – leading to overfishing and a loss of economic value. Prior theoretical and empirical work has demonstrated the potential for fishery governance reforms to recover stocks and increase the economic value of the industry. However, few studies have measured the spillovers of these reforms beyond the fishing sector or have examined how impacts may differ across socioeconomic groups.

The authors address these knowledge gaps by developing a bioeconomic local general equilibrium model and calibrating it using data from a municipality on the island of Palawan in the Philippines. This model explicitly considers the flows of benefits and costs of reform over time as the stock recovers, while also accounting for economic spillovers from the fishery sector to the non-fishery sector. In addition, the authors separately evaluate impacts to poor and non-poor households over 20 years, as well as households participating in fishers versus those that do not participate. The authors find that fishing households eventually benefit from governance reform – despite early losses in harvesting income – with wealthier households securing the largest absolute gains. However, non-fishing households in the local economy are never made better off by the reform due to increases in fish prices and indirect economic spillovers such as reduced spending on non-fish goods during the fishery rebuilding phase.

MRE Editor in Chief, Joshua Abbott of Arizona State University notes: “Fisheries reforms in the Global South are often touted as a form of ‘pro-poor’ conservation policy. However, knowledge of how the benefits and costs of reform are distributed across households is very limited. Gilliland, Sanchirico, and Taylor have made a significant contribution to filling this knowledge gap. Most notably, they have demonstrated that non-fishing households in the local economy may be harmed by reforms – suggesting that additional policy tools beyond the usual scope of fisheries governance may be needed to address these spillovers.”

This annual award recognizes outstanding works published in MRE, with selections made by the associate editors, who consider articles published during the award year.

Visit the journal’s Outstanding Article Award webpage for more information about the award and to see the list of previous recipients.

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