Current rationalization options for West Coast groundfish trawl fisheries include significant allocations of harvester quota to processors, justified as compensation for “stranded capital.” This article discusses the origin of the concept of stranded capital, its use in other policy settings, preconditions, measurement, and remedies for addressing it. Our main finding is that rationalization of fisheries is unlikely to generate significant processing stranded capital. Most capital involved in fisheries processing is malleable and not likely to be devalued as a result of rationalization. If policy makers nevertheless judge it desirable to consider compensation, a legitimate process would tie compensation to anticipated or demonstrated capital losses. Current policies proposed on the U.S. West Coast to transfer harvester quota are arbitrary and unsupported by empirical estimates of the magnitude of the problem. They are likely to generate important spillover effects that could negate some of the intended benefits of rationalization.
JEL Classification Code: Q22