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Managing Water Rights Using Fishing Rights as a Model

37 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2012  

Shelley Ross Saxer

Pepperdine University School of Law

Date Written: 2011


This Article addresses the need to view water rights as licenses subject to government revocation, without just compensation, in the same way that fishing rights are viewed as licenses subject to government management. It focuses specifically on the methods used to address water resource allocation in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in California, and on fish allocation issues in the Pacific Northwest. It explores property rights in water and fish, particularly in regard to Fifth Amendment takings challenges when government regulations diminish water rights and fishing rights. The Article concludes by recognizing that both water and fish resources should be managed as ecosystems and governed by the public trust doctrine, and rejecting private property rights in either fish or water as a violation of the public trust doctrine, in which public resources are given away to private interests.

Keywords: water, fish, right, property, license, government, management, resource, ecosystem, Fifth Amendment, taking, public trust doctrine, public, private, river, stream, lake

Suggested Citation

Saxer, Shelley Ross, Managing Water Rights Using Fishing Rights as a Model (2011). Marquette Law Review, Vol. 95, p. 91, 2011; Pepperdine University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012/7. Available at SSRN:

Shelley Ross Saxer (Contact Author)

Pepperdine University School of Law ( email )

24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
United States

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