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Aboriginal Rights, Customary Law and the Economics of Renewable Resource Exploitation


  • Ian Keay
  • Cherie Metcalf


In this paper we investigate the economic foundations supporting the conservation rationale that is prominent in the Canadian court system's cautious approach to recognizing Aboriginal rights guaranteeing access to natural resources. We discuss the recognition of Aboriginal rights by Canadian courts, and we consider a standard economic model of a commercial fishery with profit-maximizing Aboriginal fishers, self-regulated Aboriginal fishers, and customary-law Aboriginal fishers, harvesting alongside non-Aboriginal fishers. It appears that the potentially dramatic stock and industry outcomes feared by the courts are dependent on the assumptions made about Aboriginal responses to their economic and regulatory environment. The typical neoclassical assumptions made by economists may be poor approximations of Aboriginal behaviour.

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  • Ian Keay & Cherie Metcalf, 2004. "Aboriginal Rights, Customary Law and the Economics of Renewable Resource Exploitation," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 30(1), pages 1-27, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:30:y:2004:i:1:p:1-27

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sethi, Rajiv & Somanathan, E, 1996. "The Evolution of Social Norms in Common Property Resource Use," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 766-788, September.
    2. Neher,Philip A., 1990. "Natural Resource Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521311748, October.
    3. Joseph Henrich, 2001. "In Search of Homo Economicus: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 73-78, May.
    4. Boxall, Peter C. & Murray, Gordon & Unterschultz, James R. & Boxall, Pete C., 2003. "Non-timber forest products from the Canadian boreal forest: an exploration of aboriginal opportunities," Journal of Forest Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 75-96.
    5. M. K. Haener & D. Dosman & W.L. Adomowicz & P.C. Boxall, 2001. "Can Stated Preference Methods be used to Value Attributes of Subsistence Hunting by Aboriginal Peoples? A Case Study in Northern Saskatchewan," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1334-1340.
    6. Anderson, Lee G., 1983. "Exploitation of the lobster fishery: Comment," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 180-183, June.
    7. Kenneth L. Avio, 1994. "Aboriginal Property Rights in Canada: A Contractarian Interpretation of R. v. Sparrow," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 20(4), pages 415-429, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gray, Matthew & Altman, Jon & Halasz, Natane, 2005. "The Economic Value of Wild Resources to the Indigenous Community of the Wallis Lakes Catchment," MPRA Paper 1392, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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