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When Ideas Conspire with Circumstances: Introducing Individual Transferable Quotas in Fisheries

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  • Gissurarson Hannes H.

    (University of Iceland)

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    Abstract

    Deux ques t ions impor tantes sont rarement posées à propos de l’introduction possible de Quotas Individuels Transférables (QIT) dans les pêcheries : Pourquoi n’y a-t-il que deux pays dans le monde, l’Islande et la Nouvelle Zélande, qui ont introduit un système compréhensible de QIT dans leurs pêcheries ? et : qui s’occupe de la privatisation des biens d’accès libre ? L’expérience de l’Islande peut donner quelques réponses. Dans une première partie, l’évolution du système de QIT en Islande entre 1975 et 2000 est décrite comme un processus difficile de marchandage. D’une part les coûts de marchandage furent abaissés par la crainte répandue de la disparition des stocks de poisson, et par la relative homogénéité dans les pêcheries pélagiques. D’autre part ces coûts furent augmentés, par l’hétérogénéité dans les pêcheries démersales, avec des différences immenses entre les propriétaires de petits bateaux et ceux de grands chalutiers, ainsi que des différences entre les régions. Dans la seconde partie, est décrite la nature du système de QIT: alors que ceux qui détiennent des QIT jouissent de droits d’extraction plutôt que de la propriété, l’introduction du système de QIT équivaut à clôturer partiellement les stocks de poisson dans les eaux d’Islande, résolvant ainsi la plupart des problèmes associés à la “tragédie des communs”. Le système a plutôt bien opéré mis à part quelques problèmes subsistants, en particulier le statut légal incertain des QIT et les prises de premier choix. La troisième partie décrit les controverses actuelles au sujet du système des QIT. Nous démontrons que le seul moyen de rendre l’introduction de ce système acceptable pour les propriétaires d’un capital de pêche était d’allouer des quotas sur la base de l’histoire des prises, et qu’une taxe spéciale sur la location des ressources serait injuste car elle frapperait ceux qui ont choisi de rester dans les pêcheries et non ceux qui ont été mis à l’écart.Two important questions are rarely asked about the possible introduction of ITQs in fisheries: Why are there only two countries in the world, Iceland and New Zealand, which have introduced a comprehensive ITQ system into their fisheries? and: Who cares whether the commons is privatized? The experience in Iceland may provide some answers. In Part 1, the evolution of the ITQ system in Iceland in 1975-2000 is described as a difficult process of bargaining. Costs of bargaining were lowered by the widespread fear of the collapse of the fish stocks, and by the relative homogeneity in the pelagic fisheries. Those costs were increased, on the other hand, by the heterogeneity in the demersal fisheries, with vast differences between owners of small boats and large trawlers, and also between regions. In Part II, the nature of the ITQ system is described: while those who hold ITQs enjoy rights of extraction rather than property, the introduction of the ITQ system amounts to the partial enclosure of the fish stocks in Icelandic waters, solving most of the problems associated with the “tragedy of the commons”. The system has performed quite well although some problems remain, in particular the uncertain legal status of the ITQs and high-grading. In Part III, current controversies about the ITQ system are described. It is argued that the only way to make the introduction of the system acceptable to owners of fishing capital was to allocate quotas on the basis of catch history, and that a special resource rent tax would be unjust, since it would hit those who chose to remain in the fisheries, not those who were bought out.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines.

    Volume (Year): 10 (2000)
    Issue (Month): 2 (June)
    Pages: 1-33

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    Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:10:y:2000:i:2:n:3

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