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Economic Incentives and Global Fisheries Sustainability


  • Christopher Costello
  • John Lynham
  • Sarah E. Lester
  • Steven D. Gaines

    () (Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106
    Department of Economics, University of Hawai'i, Mānoa, Hawaii 96822
    Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106)


Widespread global collapses of fisheries corroborate decades-old predictions by economists, made long before large-scale industrialization of the world's fisheries, that open access would have deleterious ecological and economic effects on fishery resources. Incentive-based alternatives (collectively called catch shares) have been shown to generate pecuniary benefits, but little empirical evidence exists for, or against, a link to global fisheries sustainability. We report and expand on an analysis of >11,000 fisheries worldwide, in which we investigated the causes of fisheries collapse from 1950 to 2003. Using a program evaluation design, we found that catch shares prevent and, in some specifications, reverse fisheries collapse. Subsequent scientific studies reinforce and challenge these findings, suggesting fruitful avenues for future research linking incentive-based resource management to sustainability.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher Costello & John Lynham & Sarah E. Lester & Steven D. Gaines, 2010. "Economic Incentives and Global Fisheries Sustainability," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 299-318, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:anr:reseco:v:2:y:2010:p:299-318

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    Cited by:

    1. Kofi Otumawu-Apreku, 2013. "Inspection, Compliance and Violation: A Case of Fisheries," School of Economics Working Papers 2013-17, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.
    2. Jessica Coria & Thomas Sterner, 2011. "Natural Resource Management: Challenges and Policy Options," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 203-230, October.
    3. Lynham, John, 2014. "How have catch shares been allocated?," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 42-48.

    More about this item


    catch shares; marine conservation; property rights; ITQs; environmental solutions;

    JEL classification:

    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q22 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Fishery
    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics


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