9/19/2008

Science Magazine prints the Obvious: Property rights work to prevent overfishing problems

I agree with Hilborn that there is nothing surprising here, but at least Science magazine and the New York Times are finally beginning to catch on to something this obvious.

Giving people ownership rights in marine fisheries can halt or even reverse catastrophic declines in commercial stocks, researchers in California and Hawaii are reporting.

The idea goes against the grain among people who believe that anyone with grit and skill should be able to get in a boat, put to sea and make a living fishing. But that approach, even with licensing requirements and other restrictions, has produced fishing efforts so intense that by some estimates, the world’s commercial stocks will collapse in a few decades.

By contrast, the researchers write in Friday’s issue of the journal Science, allocating ownership shares of a particular fishery to individuals, cooperatives, communities or other entities gives them a reason to nurture the stock. In this arrangement, scientists set acceptable catch levels, and other authorities allocate shares, species by species, region by region. . . . .

Ray Hilborn, a fisheries expert at the University of Washington, praised the new work but said: “There is nothing surprising in it. A lot of us have been arguing that various forms of catch shares or dedicated access is essential.”

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This same theory has proved successful in protecting elephants in Zimbabwe and other parts of Africa. By giving property rights to tribes in the herds and allowing a percentage to be culled each year, the tribes vigorously and effectively protect herds from poachers. The net result has been a significant increase in the number of elephants. Before the property rights policy, simply relying on laws against poaching failed to yield needed protection.

9/19/2008 2:53 AM  
Anonymous Brent Crude said...

You would have thought it was blindingly obvious.

How many centuries is it since enclosure of the English common grazing lands gave the incentive to improve the land and improve food supply sufficeintly for industrialization to begin out of a feudal /peasant society?

For another example, look at the difference in care between fenced private yards and the "common" space between social housing blocks.

Of course it works

Brent

9/19/2008 5:02 AM  

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