Property Rights

A Potential Solution to Commons Tragedies in West Coast Fisheries

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West coast fisheries might begin in 2011 an experiment in assigning something more like property rights in the ocean commons, the LA Times reports. Excerpt:

The Pacific Fishery Management Council voted unanimously Friday to make a historic shift in strategy that encourages cooperation, rather than competition, among fishermen who drag nets to catch cod, whiting, rockfish, flounder and sole.

The new approach, often called "individual fishing quotas," will give commercial fishermen from Morro Bay on California's Central Coast to Puget Sound in Washington state the right to bring in their portion of the catch when the seas are safe and they can command higher prices.

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Advocates of this approach, which has been used successfully in Alaska and elsewhere, believe that this can help turn around West Coast fisheries…..

The shift to individual fish quotas comes after recent scientific studies showing that the system has a way of encouraging fishermen to be better stewards of the resource. It tends to end the dangerous race to catch fish before another boat does and has helped stocks rebound.

Ron Bailey on individual fishing quotas from back in 2005.