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Economics Research Institute Study Paper




Utah State University Department of Economics

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Economic prescriptions for the sustainable management of fisheries have typically been framed in the context of commercial fisheries. Fishery management failures have been characterized as a consequence of disjointedness between individually rational decisions and globally sensible outcomes-the "tragedy of the commons." The solutions proposed by economists flow from the insight that rational self-interest can lead to socially beneficial outcomes when ownership is secure and prices reflect the opportunity cost of resource use. Theoretical and empirical analyses have demonstrated that sole ownership, individual quotas, territorial use rights, fishing cooperatives, and common property management regimes can promote biologically and economically sustainable fisheries. Nevertheless, implementation of these "solutions" has met with resistance, due in part to the impossibility of uncoupling species within ecological systems and conflict between the proposed solutions and broadly accepted concepts of social justice. The problem of devising a sustainable management strategy is exacerbated in fisheries with diverse consumptive and non-consumptive users. An empirically based simulation-optimization model is used to characterize the biological and economic effects of alternative management regimes in a fishery with commercial and sport fishers. The results are generalized to the case of additional use and nonuse values.