Learning How to Fish

Speaking of fish, the UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy has just released my most recent paper, “Learning How to Fish: Catch Shares and the Future of Fishery Conservation,” co-authored with my former student Nathaniel Stewart. Here’s the abstract from SSRN:

Fisheries the world over are poorly managed and under stress. Yet, proper fishery management can both conserve fisheries and maintain their value as a resource for human consumption. One approach long recommended by economists has been the allocation or recognition of property rights in fisheries. The ability of such methods to enhance economic efficiency is no longer a matter of academic speculation or economic theory. There is ample empirical evidence that such institutional reforms encourage more efficient fishery exploitation. There is also growing empirical evidence that such reforms produce social and ecological benefits, increasing safety for fishery participants and encouraging greater resource stewardship. The use of property-based management aligns fisher incentives with the underlying health of the resource, and appears to reduce the adverse environmental effects of commercial fishing.

The sad part of the story is that as the empirical evidence in support of property-based fishery management has accumulated, Republicans have looked the other way. Indeed, because the Obama Administration supports the greater use of catch shares, many Republicans have concluded they must be a bad idea, placing partisanship over sound policy.