Fencing the Fisheries Commons: Regulatory Barbed Wire in the Alaskan Groundfish Fisheries (Thalassorama) by Marine Resource Economics

Book Review : Fencing the Fisheries Commons: Regulatory Barbed Wire in the Alaskan Groundfish Fisheries (Thalassorama)

By Marine Resource Economics

  • Publication Date: 2000-06-22
  • Genre: Life Sciences

Book Review

Introduction The extension of the US exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to 200 miles by the US in the late 1970s made possible the transformation of vast Alaskan groundfish resources from open access to common property resources in the sense that the user groups and their rights to use of the resources could be limited and defined. However, as the resources were "Americanized" in the late 1980s, the size and exclusivity of user groups and associated catch rights were not tightly controlled. Although groundfish stocks and harvests were maintained at relatively high and steady levels through limits on total allowable catch (TAC), a "race for fish" and accompanying "race to process" led to dissipation of resource rents through overcapitalization and reduction in product value. Over time, the industry and the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council implemented a variety of measures that more clearly delineate the catch rights of groups or individuals enabling them to curtail or eliminate the "race for fish" and to increase efficiency at the individual and industry level. These measures include sectoral catch allocations, license limitation programs, individual fishing quota systems, community development quotas, and harvest cooperatives. In this paper, I discuss the process by which the Alaskan groundfish resources have been progressively fenced off and some implications of these property systems for efficiency, equity, and other social goals.

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