Discipline: Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
Subcategory: Social Sciences/Psychology/Economics
Myesa Legendre-Fixx - University of Washington
We investigated changes to entry and upward mobility for fisherman who participate in the Bering Sea crab fisheries since the rationalization management program was enacted. Prior to this program, any fisherman able to obtain a boat and crab pots could partake in the race for crab. After rationalization, the crab resource was divided into quota shares and then issued to selected participants. Currently, one has to either own quota or lease it from someone else in order to fish crab. The Alaska crab fisheries are experiencing a trend in which the owners and operators are getting older. Because of this, we hypothesized that rationalization has limited entry and upward mobility. If the fisheries are going to continue, the structure of the management program must allow younger entrants to replace older participants as they retire. We conducted in-depth interviews guided by a list of topics with fourteen experienced participants and one crew member in order to gain insight into whether barriers to entry and upward mobility had changed since the implementation of rationalization. We also discussed the possibility of entry and upward mobility in the present crab fisheries, and whether entry and upward mobility should be priorities of the management program. Transcriptions of the interviews were coded with pre-established codes and additional codes added during the process. Therefore, the analysis was guided by the experiences, opinions, and worries of the participants rather than limited by predetermined hypotheses developed by outsiders to the industry. Our participants conveyed that entry and upward mobility in the rationalized crab fisheries takes long-term dedication to the fisheries, a disciplined and future-oriented mindset, connections with established or wealthy people, financial responsibility, lots of hard work, and requires extensive time away from family. We can conclude that rationalization has created fisheries that are expensive to get into and involve risky, long-term investments, and therefore are even more unappealing than they were before rationalization. Subsequent research should involve interviewing current crew members, in order to provide the perceptions of people who are not already dedicated to and well-established in the crab fisheries. Knowing the barriers to entry and mobility will provide insight into what changes may be necessary to ensure that the Bering Sea crab fisheries are accessible for future generations.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), University of Washington Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and the Ocean (JISAO).
Faculty Advisor: Amber Himes-Cornell,