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 4: Achieving Policy Objectives through Institutional Reform

Elizabeth H. Petersen


1 Once a property right holder has determined a set of policy objectives for the fishery, a set of institutional structures can be determined, or reformed, to reach these policy goals. As outlined in Chapter 1, institutional structures for natural resource management relate to the nature of the property right hierarchy, entitlement systems and mechanisms for allocating and adjusting entitlement systems. From a new institutional economics perspective, determining the optimal set of institutional structures requires the comparison of transaction costs for each option. Transaction cost structures will differ for each application, depending on the characteristics of the fishery, the fishers and the broader institutions of social and economic governance. This chapter presents an analysis of institutional structures for an international fishery, using the Western and Central Pacific tuna fishery as an example. The chapter starts in Section 4.1 with an analysis of current property right structures for an international fishery with special reference to the Western and Central Pacific region. The current entitlement institutions, and institutions for 55 56 Institutional economics and fisheries management allocating and adjusting entitlements, are reviewed in Section 4.2. Hindrances to institutional reform are presented in Section 4.3. A model for analysing rent generation in a multilateral fishery is outlined in Section 4.4, arguing that cooperation between states is essential for sustainable and efficient governance. A proposed cooperative structure for the Western and Central Pacific tuna fishery is presented in Section 4.5. The chapter ends with some concluding comments. 4.1 Property rights – multilateral governance of...

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