Retrospective assessment of ITQs to inform research needs and to improve their future design and performance

Project Number:



CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Hobart

Principal Investigator:

Sean Pascoe

Project Status:


FRDC Expenditure:





As stated in the call for proposals, the implementation of individual tradeable quota (ITQ) in Australian fisheries has brought about many demonstrable gains (e.g. increased capacity utilisation and profit). At the same time, there have been some social, economic and environmental consequences associated with the move to tradeable fishing rights that, even if predictable, may have been unintended. For example, ITQ markets have not always operated as envisaged; thin markets (few buyers and sellers), high transactions costs and the de-coupling of the ownership of quota from fishing practice may have undermined the performance of some ITQ systems. Ownership of quota by processors, exporters and others further along the value chain has also distorted the price incentives in some fisheries. In others, non-fisher quota ownership has resulted in a lease-dependent component of the fishery that are not capturing the benefits generated by the ITQ system. Changing quota ownership characteristics also have an impact on the configuration of industry representatives on co-management committees. It is not yet clear what the longer term impact of this is on stewardship and the decision making process and ultimately on management outcomes. As the extension of ITQs in Australia to a greater number of commercial fisheries, and potentially to support inter-sectoral allocations, is contemplated there is a need to learn from experience of ITQs both in Australia and internationally ITQs globally have come under intense scrutiny in the fisheries management and economics literature. Synthesising and critically analysing learnings from these studies, as well as relevant knowledge from individuals/groups/organisations involved in the administration of, or affected by, existing ITQ systems will help identify key issues and, where possible, reforms that through adaptive management can improve the performance of existing markets and inform the design of new tradable rights markets.


1. Identify the extent of use (current and proposed) of ITQs in Australian fisheries

2. Identify the demonstrable benefits to their use in Australia, and what outcomes have emerged that were largely unintended

3. Identify critical knowledge gaps and further research needed to improve their future design and performance

Retrospective assessment of ITQs to inform research needs and to improve their future design and performance

Final Report
Author(s):Pascoe, S., Hoshino, E., van Putten, I. and Vieira, S.
Date Published:May 2019

The use of transferable fishing rights has increased internationally over recent decades with most industrialised countries now using some form of individual transferable catch quota (ITQ) or individual transferable effort (ITE) system for at least some of their fisheries. Australia also has considerable experience in the use of ITQs and ITEs, with examples of ITQ or ITE management in each State and also Commonwealth fisheries.

Perceptions of the success or otherwise of ITQ and ITE fisheries varies, but the key factors underlying success or failure of such programs have not been examined in a systematic way. The purpose in this study is to examine how ITQs and ITEs in Australia have performed relative to sustainability, economic and social criteria, and to determine what may be underlying these successes or failures. The study includes a review of international experiences with ITQ management as well as a description of the key ITQ and ITE fisheries in each jurisdiction. A survey of fishers, scientists and managers was undertaken to determine their perceptions around the performance of ITQs/ITEs, and to estimate what factors may contribute to these perceptions of performance.