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The Fishery as a Watery Commons: Lessons from the Experiences of Other Public Policy Areas for US Fisheries Policy

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  • Lawrence J. White

Abstract

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, "command and control" regulation) -- have largely been failures. Indeed, they have often perversely exacerbated fisheries' overfishing problems by encouraging "fishing derbies" or "races for the fish." Fisheries are not alone in facing a common pool problem. Other areas of the U.S. economy have 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 sulfur dioxide emissions by electric utilities, grazing on public lands, forest logging on public lands, oil-gas-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.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 06-18.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:ste:nystbu:06-18

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Postal: New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics, 44 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012-1126
Phone: (212) 998-0860
Fax: (212) 995-4218
Web page: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/economics/
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  6. Macinko, Seth & Raymond, Leigh, 2001. "Fish on the range: : the perils of crossing conceptual boundaries in natural resource policy," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 123-131, March.
  7. Baldwin, Laura H & Marshall, Robert C & Richard, Jean-Francois, 1997. "Bidder Collusion at Forest Service Timber Sales," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 657-99, August.
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  16. Thomas J. Teisberg, 1980. "Federal Management of Energy and Mineral Resources on the Public Lands," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(2), pages 448-465, Autumn.
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  18. Hahn, Robert W, 1989. "Economic Prescriptions for Environmental Problems: How the Patient Followed the Doctor's Orders," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 95-114, Spring.
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  20. Townsend, Ralph E. & McColl, James & Young, Michael D., 2006. "Design principles for individual transferable quotas," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 131-141, March.
  21. Matulich, Scott C. & Mittelhammer, Ron C. & Reberte, Carlos, 1996. "Toward a More Complete Model of Individual Transferable Fishing Quotas: Implications of Incorporating the Processing Sector," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 112-128, July.
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  1. Socio-economics of Fisheries and Aquaculture

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