PhD Students Win Best Paper Award for Study of U.S. Catch-Share Fisheries

July 25, 2016

Contact: Tim Lucas, 919/613-8084 or

DURHAM, N.C. – Anna Birkenbach and David Kaczan, doctoral students in the Duke University Program in Environmental Policy, won the Best Student Paper Award at the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET) conference in Aberdeen, Scotland, last week for their study of U.S. catch-share fisheries.

Graduate students and IIFET members from more than 65 countries participated in the biennial conference.

Birkenbach and Kaczan won the Best Student Paper Award for their study, “Do Catch Shares End the Race to Fish and Increase Ex Vessel Prices? Evidence from U.S. Fisheries”.

Their paper tested a widely held theory that using catch shares as a management tool can boost revenues by curbing the “race to fish” that sometimes leads to market saturation and lower prices received by fishing vessels at their point of landing early in the season, and smaller catches later.  

The students’ study, which has not yet been published, found strong preliminary evidence that catch shares do help curb the race to fish, but mixed evidence that they boost fishers’ ex-vessel revenues.

Martin D. Smith, George M. Woodwell Distinguished Professor of Environmental Economics at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, is Birkenbach’s faculty advisor. He co-authored the study.

Alexander Pfaff, professor of public policy, economics and environment, is Kaczan’s faculty advisor. Pfaff holds a primary appointment at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and a secondary appointment at the Nicholas School.

Brian Murray, research professor of environmental economics at the Nicholas School and director of the Environmental Economics Program at Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, is Kaczan’s co-advisor.