by Jonathan H. Adler, Nathaniel Stewart
April 09, 2014
The New England Fishery Management council voted in January 2013 to recommend drastic new cuts to the catch limits for Atlantic codfish off the New England coast. New England fisherman and other opponents fear that the restrictions will doom the centuries-old local fishing industry. Plan proponents, however, counter that the measures are the only way to save the rapidly collapsing Atlantic cod industry. Strengthening property rights in quotas, enhancing tenure contracts to induce long-term stewardship, and improving the working relationships between fishers and managers are important components of fishery management. Lawmakers and resource managers should acknowledge the growing body of empirical research demonstrating the impact of stronger, longer-tenure property rights and rights-based incentives on improving fishery performance. Although catch shares have their drawbacks, the world has less to fear from the expansion of property rights in marine resources than from the failure to utilize property rights for marine conservation.