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 5: Managing Resource Revenues

Elizabeth H. Petersen


1 In some fisheries, property right holders pursue a policy of extracting sufficient fees to cover their management costs and allowing all other resource rents to be acquired by the fishers themselves (for example, the Australian Bluefin tuna fishery). This is especially true in countries where all, or the vast majority, of fishers are country nationals. In other fisheries, governments put a priority on maximizing returns from the fishers themselves, especially where the majority of fishers are not country nationals. In this latter circumstance, the issue of how the property right holder should spend these fishery revenues is often the subject of intense debate. In fisheries where governments seek to maximize economic returns, some fisheries specialists argue that at least some fisheries revenue should be diverted from the government’s consolidated revenue (where revenues can sometimes be perceived to be wastefully spent on consumption or poor quality investments) into government-operated fishing ventures. In this chapter, this approach is critiqued by arguing that the role of government is to encourage private sector development and to focus on appropriate regulation of the private sector, 87 88 Institutional economics and fisheries management and not to be involved in commercial activities. An alternative proposal is provided in this chapter that, if managed properly, will support strong and sustained economic development. It is suggested that access fees to a fishery be maximized, and that these rents be deposited into a trust fund, with trust fund earnings being distributed to encourage a variety of private sector...

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