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Rights Based Fishing: The Role of Property Rights in Fisheries Management

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Hannesson, Rögnvaldur
Conference: Improving the Link between Fisheries Science and Management: Biological, Social, and Economic Considerations, 82nd Statutory Meeting of the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas
Location: St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
Conf. Date: September 22-30
Date: 1994
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/5707
Sector: Fisheries
Subject(s): fisheries
property rights
resource management
Abstract: "'Rights based fishing' is a recent and to some a revolutionary concept. Its background is the failure of traditional fisheries management to improve the economics of the fishing industry. The traditional way of dealing with excessive pressure on fish stocks has been to reduce the use and efficiency of fishing vessels, as deemed necessary to protect the resources. While such methods may have been successful in protecting the resources, they have been directly harmful from an economic point of view. Investment funds have been wasted on unnecessary fishing boats and labor has been drawn away from more useful occupations. The regulations have been costly and not always very effective, as fishermen have often found ways to circumvent them. The overcapacity of fishing fleets is also a constant threat to the health of fish stocks upon which the fleets can descend with great intensity and speed. An alternative to these traditional methods is to base fisheries regulations on transferable fishing rights, much as the exploitation of other natural resources is based on ownership rights. In this paper the nature and workings of such rights axe discussed. We begin by discussing the nature of property rights and the role they play in the economy. We next discuss their application to fish resources, arguing that rights to harvest are more applicable than rights to the resources themselves. We then discuss problems related to the introduction of these rights, the distribution of their benefits, and the paradox why fishermen often seem less than enthusiastic about such rights. Finally the implications of fishing rights for fisheries management are briefly touched upon."

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