Atlantic sea scallop management: an alternative rights-based cooperative approach to resource sustainability
The effectiveness of the US Atlantic sea scallop fishery regulations has resulted in recovery from a biological standpoint. However, due to excessive harvest capability and regulatory inefficiencies, the industry is facing substantial harvesting costs and, hence, economic inefficiency. The main reason is that most regulations or restrictions do not take into account the fundamental importance of the property rights for inducing behavior more consonant with aggregate as well as individual rationality. This article conceptualizes the role and importance of property rights structures in their application to Atlantic sea scallop fishery management. Additionally, embryonic industry efforts in developing an enhancement program for this fishery may point to the need for more cooperative, area-based management strategies. By doing so, two important elements for achieving greater production and value from the scallop fishery are identified. First, establishing an ownership structure of private property rights in the form of Territorial User Rights in Fishing (TURFs) and second, having fishermen cooperate under an organizational structure, such as a harvesters' cooperative. These elements imply that an alternative, rights-based cooperative approach may become a compatible governance arrangement and provide an incentive for the rational management of the scallop fishery.
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