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Self-Governance in the Commons: A Study of Social Control in Swedish Recreational Lobster Fisheries

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Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Author: Vera, Telemo
Date: 2015
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/10130
Sector: Fisheries
Region: Europe
Subject(s): lobster
Abstract: "Most of the natural resources we rely on for our existence on this planet could in one way or another be a subject to overexploitation through tragedy of the commons. Tragedy of the commons occurs when rational individuals all acting in their own self-interest creates a situation that is suboptimal for everyone involved (Hardin, 1968). For long privatization or government control over a common were seen as the only two options to avoid this tragedy. Through empirical studies Elinor Ostrom described a third alternative based on local self-governance where individuals themselves managed to collaborate around a scarce resource and create long-term sustainability (Ostrom, 1999). In this study the appropriateness of a self-governance system in small coastal societies and in the city of Gothenburg was assessed through a case study of recreational lobster fishers. Further on some factors to get acceptance for regulations in a common were highlighted. One of these factors was the development of social norms regarding regulations in lobster fishing. The norm development seemed to have followed a perceived crisis in the fishery. This visible decline of the stock made the fishers realize the importance of the regulations and thus internalizing them, creating a norm. Another important factor is that the stationary nature of the lobster. Lobsters live most of their life within the same area this can be expected to increase the incentives for fishers to treat the resource sustainably since a growth in the local stock will likely benefit the same fishers in the years to come. Based on the existence of social punishment for violators in the small coastal communities, it can be assumed that the social control in Grundsund and on Stora Kornö is much greater than in Gothenburg. Social control is one very important factor for the success of a self-governance system; therefore it could be assumed to be easier to implement a self-governance system in the small coastal societies of Grundsund and Stora Kornö than in the city of Gothenburg."

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