Here's a new academic paper that's sure to stir some crabby conversation.
Scott Matulich, a Washington State University economics professor, wrote the paper for the journal Marine Resource Economics.
It argues that crab rationalization, the 2005 management overhaul that divided the Bering Sea crab fisheries into individual catch shares as well as unprecedented processor shares, upset the balance between crabbers and processors.
The bottom line, according to Matulich: The processors got screwed.
Looking at just the important Bristol Bay red king crab fishery, he calculates the "gross value" of the individual fishing quota (IFQ) is $436 million, while the individual processing quota (IPQ) gross value is under $24 million.
Matulich argues the crab rationalization program's arbitration feature, designed to settle price and other disputes, has disadvantaged the processors.
"Seven price arbitrations have occurred since policy implementation," Matulich writes. "All were won by harvesters."
I'm not an economist, so I'll leave the peer review of this paper to others more qualified.
I will say this: My understanding was that the price arbitrations were confidential. I've never been able to get my hands on the outcome of one. So if Professor Matulich has seen enough to conclude the crabbers always win, Deckboss would sure like to see it, too.
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