The Fishery as a Watery Commons: Lessons from the Experiences of Other Public Policy Areas for Us Fisheries Policy
50 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2008
Date Written: November 2006
Open access, combined with modern technologies of fishing, has created serious problems of overfishing and threatens the sustainability of many U.S. fisheries. The common pool problem the ocean version of "the tragedy of the commons" is the root cause of the overfishing.The major regulatory policies of the past few decades that have tried to address overfishing restrictions on fishing methods and inputs (in essence, â¬Scommand and controlâ¬? regulation) have largely been failures. Indeed, they have often perversely exacerbated fisheriesâ¬" overfishingproblems by encouraging â¬Sfishing derbiesâ¬? or â¬Sraces for the fishâ¬?.Fisheries are not alone in facing a common pool problem. Other areas of the U.S. economyhave confronted similar problems, and public policies have developed to deal with them. This paper discusses seven of these other areas: the use of the electromagnetic spectrum, the control of sulfurdioxide emissions by electric utilities, grazing on public lands, forest logging on public lands, oilgas-coal extraction from public lands and offshore waters, hard rock mineral (metal) mining, and surface water usage.Important lessons can be gleaned from the policies that have been developed in these other areas, and this paper applies those lessons to the design of U.S. fisheries policy.
Keywords: fisheries, common pool, command and control regulation, individual fishing quotas
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