Date of Award

Spring 5-2020

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marine Policy


Joshua Stoll

Second Committee Member

David Love

Third Committee Member

Patricia Pinto da Silva


Federal fisheries policy in the United States aims to balance resource conservation with maximum sustainable use. Catch shares are a quota-based management tool that are being increasingly deployed to achieve this ambitious goal. One perceived benefit of catch shares is that they give fishermen control of their catch so they will have the latitude to pursue the most profitable marketing arrangements. Using a mixed-methods approach, this research seeks to (1) describe and document the different marketing strategies that commercial fishermen in the Northeast Multispecies Groundfish and Atlantic Sea Scallop fisheries are using to sell their catch; and (2) estimate the total volume and value of seafood distributed through each strategy. This work comes after both fisheries have been operating under catch share management programs for nearly a decade and therefore represents an opportunity to investigate the question: to what extend have catch shares facilitated business expansion and market innovation for fishermen in these fisheries in practice? The findings from this study suggest that while there are examples of market innovation, at least 96% and 98% of the total volume of product within the scallop and groundfish fisheries, respectively, are sold through conventional middlemen and that fish auctions remain the predominant mechanism for seafood distribution. Common challenges in expanding into new, alternative direct markets include operational costs, competition with foreign imports, limiting quota, and product availability. These challenges underscore the broken relationship between fisheries policy and market infrastructure, which combined are preventing fishermen from expanding into new markets.