Sethi SA, Dalton M, Hilborn R. (2012) Managing harvest risk with catch pooling cooperatives. ICES Journal of Marine Science 69:1038-1044. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fss064
Catch-pooling cooperatives are a strategy for fishers to manage variability which can be organized independently of a central management agency. We examined the statistical properties of equal-share catch-pooling cooperatives, and tested their potential to mitigate risk using data from two Bering Sea crab fisheries prior to rationalization. The results suggest that small cooperatives of crabbers could have reduced vessel-level catch risk by as much as 40% in the red king crab fishery, but would have been ineffective in the snow crab fishery. Analytical examination of catch variances under cooperatives explains the discrepancy between the two fisheries and demonstrates that variability reduction depends on the degree of correlation amongst participants' catches. In the best-case scenario, catch-pooling cooperatives can diversify away all season to season variation resulting from individuals' luck and skill, leaving only variation in fishery-wide harvest.