Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Seth Macinko


Alaskan fisheries are steeped in centuries of tradition and decades of innovative management. The Pacific halibut fishery is the oldest fishery in the United States managed under an individual fishing quota (IFQ) system. As such, the Pacific halibut fishery serves as an ideal system to study the long-term impacts of an IFQ system. A frenzy of research focused on the system after its implementation in 1995, which created an excellent baseline. However, interest in the halibut fishery faded as other IFQ programs began popping up around the world.

Over two decades later, the Pacific halibut fishery remains understudied in its current, contemporary state. Additionally, the success of the management provisions put in place to safeguard the small-boat fleet has never been investigated. This research seeks to fill a gap in the literature by comparing contemporary results to initial studies on Pacific halibut IFQs and being the first to examine the safeguards. Specifically, it analyzes the social impacts of IFQs and uses the data gained to present management alternatives. Finally, these interviews brought to light a number of issues currently facing the IFQ system that were not addressed in the interview questions, but that subjects strongly felt needed to be included.

Using qualitative interview and survey methods, data were collected in the field over a three-month period in Sitka, AK in 2018. This thesis details the opinions of fishermen regarding the Pacific halibut IFQ program and the effectiveness of the management safeguards. It was found that subjects of this research study generally approve of IFQs, but that this approval seems to be linked to the participant’s role in the fishery. There was overwhelming support for the management safeguards, but participants felt many could be improved. Finally, these interviews brought to light a number of issues currently facing the IFQ system including balloon effects on other fisheries, barriers to entry, climate change, and conflicts with other sectors.

With the global dependence on ocean-sourced protein growing, it is essential to ensure resources are managed sustainably. Social management and sustainability are important facets of this and are imperative for the preservation of small, Alaskan, fisheries dependent, coastal communities.



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