Institutional Economics and Fisheries Management
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Institutional Economics and Fisheries Management

The Case of Pacific Tuna

Elizabeth H. Petersen

Elizabeth H. Petersen argues that economists and other social scientists are increasingly focusing their attention towards institutions (defined as humanly-devised rules) as critical determinants of economic, social and political growth and development. Institutions responsible for the governance of fishery resources have experienced dramatic reforms over the last few decades, stimulated by increased competition for access and exploitation of resources, leading to emerging scarcity of these very resources. This book aims to contribute to the biological and economic sustainability of fish resources worldwide by providing an analysis of fisheries management in the context of new institutional economics.
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Chapter 3: Getting Fishery Policy Objectives Right

Elizabeth H. Petersen


3. Getting fishery policy objectives right1 The general policy objectives of most fisheries may be summarized as, first, to ensure the biological sustainability of fish stocks and, second, to maximize economic returns from the fishery. While the first of these may be relatively easy to define, evidence from fisheries worldwide suggests that it is very difficult to achieve in practice. For example, the FAO (2002) estimate that 25 per cent of the world’s major marine fish stocks or species groups for which information is available are under-exploited or moderately exploited, approximately 47 per cent of the main stocks or species groups are fully exploited (catches have reached, or are very close to, the maximum sustainable yield), and 28 per cent of stocks or species groups are reported as overexploited, significantly depleted, or recovering from depletion. The last of these groups is the fastest growing of the three groups, at the expense of the first group. The second of these general policies, to maximize economic returns from a fishery, may come in a number of different forms; for example, to maximize economic returns to the state, or to private fishers. 39 40 Institutional economics and fisheries management It is difficult to be prescriptive regarding what is an appropriate extractive policy for a fishery; the policy will differ depending on the individual characteristics of the fishery, the fishers and the objectives of the property right holder (for example, whether a government is pursuing efficiency or equity in...

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