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 6: The Catch in Trading Fishing Access for Foreign Aid

Elizabeth H. Petersen


6. The catch in trading fishing access for foreign aid1 In Chapter 3 it was argued that an appropriate fishery management policy for some governments (including the Pacific islands) might be to focus on maximizing resource rents derived from access fees from both distant water fishing nations and local fishing nations, and re-orienting government spending of the revenue into indirect support of the domestic market. Such indirect support might include governance, institutional strengthening, broad policy change and investment in education and health – initiatives to encourage an overall economic climate conducive to private investment. This advice has been criticized by fishery managers in the Pacific islands region for three main reasons. First, the pressing need for job creation has led to the exchange of cheap (or free) fishery access for domestically-based activities. Second, frustration at what has been perceived to be the use of access fees for wasteful consumption expenditure and poor quality investments has led some fishery advocates to require some of the returns to be spent in the industry, perhaps through subsidizing 117 118 Institutional economics and fisheries management domestically-based fishing activity (this issue was addressed in Chapter 5). Third, the Pacific island countries depend heavily on bilateral aid provided by distant water fishing nations in exchange for cheap access. The purpose of this chapter is to address the last of these criticisms. It is argued that subsidizing access to fishing grounds in exchange for aid is detrimental for any economy, as it decreases the transparency...

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