Declining fishery stocks, increasing fishing effort and adverse market conditions have produced difficult financial situations for fishermen worldwide. Several high-valued fisheries are considered to be overcapitalized. The purchase and permanent retirement of fishing vessels and/or permits under a buyback program is one approach for reducing fishing capacity. Evidence from previous programs, however, suggests that buybacks are not a panacea for solving overcapacity problems. Whether such programs can help rebuild stocks and improve the financial condition of fleets in any specific fishery depends on a multitude of factors. We consider the potential of a buyback program for the U.S. Atlantic shark fishery.