Impact of two of the world's largest protected areas on longline fishery catch rates

Abstract

Two of the largest protected areas on earth are U.S. National Monuments in the Pacific Ocean. Numerous claims have been made about the impacts of these protected areas on the fishing industry, but there has been no ex post empirical evaluation of their effects. We use administrative data documenting individual fishing events to evaluate the economic impact of the expansion of these two monuments on the Hawaii longline fishing fleet. Surprisingly, catch and catch-per-unit-effort are higher since the expansions began. To disentangle the causal effect of the expansions from confounding factors, we use unaffected control fisheries to perform a difference-in-differences analysis. We find that the monument expansions had little, if any, negative impacts on the fishing industry, corroborating ecological models that have predicted minimal impacts from closing large parts of the Pacific Ocean to fishing.

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Nature Communications
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