Stakeholder Perceptions of the Gulf of Mexico Grouper and Tilefish Individual Fishing Quota Program

Britni N. Tokotch

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, College of Arts and Sciences, University of South Florida St. Petersburg

Abstract

Individual Fishing Quota Programs (IFQs) are a fishery management method in which percentages of a fishery are allocated to individual fishers, thus specifying how much of that species each fisher can harvest. The purpose of this study is to determine the opinions of stakeholders to the recently implemented Gulf of Mexico grouper and tilefish IFQ program. Many studies have been conducted on the biological implications of IFQ programs but few have focused on social perceptions. Data was obtained through mail-in surveys and analysis consisted of two-sample two-tailed t-test and two-sample proportion testing. Results show that a stakeholder’s perspective on the IFQ program is related to whether or not the stakeholder is an active participant. Also influencing perception was a commercial fisher’s degree of involvement (size of their fishing operations). To a lesser degree, gear type and role within the commercial fisheries also played a part in shaping commercial fisher opinions.