Beyond Quotas: Private Property Solutions to Overfishing

Elizabeth Brubaker
May 18, 1996

Excerpt from Fish or Cut Bait! The Case for Individual Transferable Quotas in the Salmon Fishery of British Columbia, edited by Laura Jones and Michael Walker.


This chapter first examines the roots of the current crisis in the Pacific salmon fishery. It exposes decades of mismanagement by federal and provincial governments who have faced political and economic incentives to allow the overfishing and habitat destruction that have contributed to salmon’s demise. 

The paper then proposes a salmon regime characterized by strong property rights. It suggests that a system of exclusive, enforceable, perpetual, transferable rights, in which decision making is devolved from governments to fishermen, will give rights holders both incentives and tools to conserve stocks and enhance habitats. Since sole ownership provides more secure rights and more constructive incentives than do quotas, and since sole ownership further limits government’s role in fisheries management, it is put forward as the most sustainable rights regime. 

Lastly, the paper reviews the effects of salmon ownership in other jurisdictions. It demonstrates that experience in Eastern Canada and Europe confirms that the owners of salmon, responding to economic incentives, have reduced fishing pressures, implemented other conservation measures, and enhanced stocks and their habitats. Armed with strong property rights, it concludes, owners of Pacific salmon will do the same.

In March 1996, B.C. Premier Glen Clark predicted that the Fraser River commercial sockeye fishery would be shut down for the year. “It’s pretty clear from the numbers,” he explained, “that it won’t sustain a commercial fishery.”(1) The warning followed two nearly disastrous years in B.C.’s salmon fishery. In 1994, several million Fraser River salmon failed to appear at their spawning grounds. The board reviewing their disappearance concluded that fishermen had come within 12 hours of wiping out the province’s most important sockeye run. “The resource is now, more than ever before, critically endangered,” it warned. “If something like the 1994 situation happens again, the door to disaster will be wide open.”(2) Academics agreed that a crisis loomed. Biologist Carl Walters cautioned that, in the absence of profound restructuring, the Pacific salmon fishery would likely go the way of the Atlantic cod fishery.(3)

The following season again saw salmon shortages. In August 1995, with returning salmon numbering two-thirds less than pre-season estimates, federal Fisheries Minister Brian Tobin closed the Fraser River sockeye fishery with a grim comment: “As it stands now, we don’t have a fishery. Period. And unless the numbers change, we won’t have a fishery in the future.”(4) B.C. Fisheries Minister David Zirnhelt later described the year’s salmon returns as “the worst in memory,” noting that harvest volumes had declined 42 per cent from recent averages.(5) A report commissioned by the forest industry reiterated the decline of salmon productivity, concluding that of the Georgia Strait’s five salmon species, four–coho, pink, sockeye and chinook–are not sustainable.(6) “If the resource is not protected,” the authors warned, “there simply will not be any fish.”(7)

While attention has focused on the commercial catch, salmon sought by sports fishermen are also in trouble. Chinook populations have been declining for more than a decade and have virtually disappeared from popular fishing spots in the Strait of Georgia. Stocks are now at 10 per cent of what they should be.(8) If left alone, it could take between 12 and 16 years for the Georgia Strait chinook to recover; if fished lightly, these stocks could take a century to recover.(9)

Declining biodiversity also threatens B.C.’s salmon. The province’s streams have supported thousands of genetically distinct populations. But more and more fish now come from fewer and fewer streams. The last several decades have witnessed the weakening and extinction of many stocks. The dramatic decline is apparent in the Georgia Strait, which has lost approximately one-third of its stocks.(10)

A number of factors have contributed to the salmon’s diminishing numbers and reduced diversity. The most obvious is overfishing, be it by commercial, sport or aboriginal fishermen. Regardless of regulators’ efforts since 1968 to limit entry and reduce capacity, too many fishermen continue to catch too many fish. Acknowledging the former problem, federal Fisheries Minister Fred Mifflin announced in March 1996 his intention to reduce the fleet by 50 per cent.(11) Ironically, the minister is trying to lure from the fishery the very people his government has been paying to stay in the business. Federal assistance to fishermen has long contributed to the fleet’s overcapacity. Without unemployment insurance, thousands of fishermen would have had to leave the fishery. Estimates put the portion of fishermen that could not survive without government support at between 30 and 60 per cent.(12)

Their numbers aside, fishermen are simply taking too many fish. In 1994, sockeye harvest rates neared 80 per cent, well over the harvest rate of 70 per cent recommended for the most productive sockeye stocks.(13) That year, competition with the United States encouraged Canadian managers to take risks with salmon destined for the Fraser River. After negotiations on the Pacific Salmon Treaty broke down, Canada pursued an “aggressive fishing strategy,” encouraging its fleet to intercept the Fraser run before Americans could harvest it. The fish war encouraged a “grab all” attitude in the fleet, helping create the season’s disaster.(14)

Even sustainable levels of fishing of some stocks may contribute to the overfishing of others. When fishing effort increases at the mouth of a river with a productive hatchery, catches of not only the targeted enhanced species but also non-targeted wild species increase. Hatchery operations have thus hastened the loss of biodiversity.(15)

Habitat destruction may rival overfishing as a cause of salmon’s recent decline. Scientists debate the effects and significance of habitat loss or damage. One review attributes 20 to 30 per cent of recent biodiversity losses to habitat damage.(16) Another blames habitat damage for far greater losses.(17) While environmental effects are not easily quantified–they may occur over decades, with many years lapsing between activities and their cumulative effects–it is clear that B.C.’s environment has been altered in many ways that have harmed salmon.(18)

One of the province’s earliest environmental disasters occurred at Hell’s Gate on the Fraser River. In 1911 and 1912, Canadian Northern Railway construction crews illegally dumped huge amounts of rock into the Fraser canyon; two years later, railroad blasting set off a massive rock slide. These events changed the river’s flow pattern and prevented salmon from swimming upstream to spawn. Millions of salmon died below Hell’s Gate. Commercial catches plummeted to 25 per cent of their former sizes; they remain below historical averages to this day.(19)

Since then, countless other activities have degraded salmon habitat.(20) Logging roads and landslides caused by logging have covered stream beds with silt; clearcutting has changed water runoff patterns and stream temperatures; and log transportation has destroyed river beds. Pulp mills have littered river and ocean beds with fibre mats; decay of these and other organic mill wastes has robbed water of oxygen needed by fish; and the effluents from mills have contaminated waters with toxins, such as dioxins and furans. Hydroelectric dams have blocked migrating fish, altered flows and changed water temperatures. Mine tailings have poisoned waters with heavy metals. Agricultural runoff has contaminated waters with fertilizers and pesticides. Urban development has decreased the amount of habitat available for salmon; it has also increased runoff, exacerbating high and low flows. And fish farms have polluted waters and threatened wild stocks with diseases and interbreeding.

Sewage pollution also threatens B.C.’s salmon. Every day, British Columbians discharge 1.7 billion litres of wastewater into the province’s waters. Sixteen communities simply chop up or screen their sewage before discharging it into coastal waters. Most municipalities treat their sewage. Treatment, however, does not ensure that effluents will not damage the marine environment. Approximately 59 per cent of B.C.’s treated wastewater receives only primary treatment, which leaves considerable amounts of toxins and organic matter in the effluent.(21) And many plants, such as the Greater Vancouver Regional District’s Annacis Island and Lulu Island facilities, regularly fail to meet provincial water quality requirements.(22) Upgrading the Annacis Island plant headed the list of environmental recommendations made by the Fraser River Sockeye Public Review Board in 1995.(23) In the Vancouver region, combined sewers–sewers carrying both storm water and sanitary sewage–exacerbate sewage pollution. During storms, when combined sewers fill with more water and wastes than the local treatment plants can handle, they overflow into the Fraser River and Burrard Inlet, discharging 62 billion litres of raw sewage over the course of a year.(24)

Sewage from treatment plants and combined sewer overflows degrades salmon habitat in a number of ways. Suspended solids may prevent sunlight from reaching underwater plants that aquatic organisms feed on. They may destroy spawning zones. Microorganisms that break down organic matter in suspended solids consume oxygen, making less available for fish. Nutrients in sewage have the same effect; phosphorus and nitrogen stimulate plant growth, such as algal blooms, which oxygen-consuming microorganisms then decompose. Sewage effluents also directly harm fish. Suspended solids may clog gills and abrade exposed membranes. Toxins in the effluent may cause stress and disease, interfere with reproduction, growth, migration and feeding, and increase vulnerability to predators. Effluents that are disinfected with chlorine, but not subsequently dechlorinated, may injure fish gills and induce convulsions; chlorinated effluents–characterizing 20 of B.C.’s 116 municipal sewage treatment plants–may be deadly to fish hundreds of metres downstream.(25)

The overfishing and habitat degradation now threatening B.C.’s salmon reflect decades of mismanagement by federal and provincial governments. The federal government has insufficient knowledge, resources and incentives to monitor fishing or water quality and to enforce regulations governing them. The 1982 Commission on Pacific Fisheries Policy warned that the fisheries department knew “surprisingly little” about fish habitats, failed to monitor industrial operations, and had “alarmingly deficient” information about fisheries resources.(26) In recent decades, budget cuts and spending shifts have further reduced government monitoring of the fishery, to the point where it is now, in the words of one critic, “hopelessly inadequate.”(27) The fisheries department’s 220 or so enforcement officers cannot possibly monitor all of B.C.’s 160,000 square miles of ocean, its 27,000-kilometre coastline or its 1,500 spawning streams.(28) A 1994 fisheries department memorandum complained that the department lacked the staff and budget required to monitor the aboriginal fishery.(29) The board reviewing 1994’s disastrous Fraser runs described “a general breakdown in enforcement” and managers’ “troubling laxity of diligence,” blaming the crisis on staff and budget cutbacks.(30) Reports prepared for that review revealed the government’s inability to count fish, monitor catches, predict mortality rates, or otherwise regulate the fishery.(31) Nor have provincial governments adequately monitored pollution or enforced regulations protecting salmon habitat; they have lacked the data necessary to calculate pollution loading rates and to evaluate their effects.(32)

But problems of inadequate monitoring and enforcement can’t simply be resolved with more money. Regardless of budget restrictions, governments face myriad disincentives to conserve and protect salmon stocks. That they are subject to irresistible political pressures has been evident since 1889, when initial attempts to conserve salmon by restricting entry into the Fraser fishery met with fierce resistance. Fishermen were outraged by the government’s proposal to limit licences to 450. Bowing to political pressure, the government agreed to issue an additional 50 licences. Then, retreating further, it suspended the regulations. Within three years, it had issued another 221 licences.(33) The government’s next attempt to limit entry–this time to the Skeena and Rivers Inlet fisheries–lasted less than a decade. Initiated in 1908, licence restrictions were eased to accommodate canneries’ demands and then lifted entirely to make jobs for soldiers returning from the first World War.(34)

The 1982 Commission on Pacific Fisheries Policy warned of the government’s ongoing inability to withstand heavy pressures from competing fishermen. “Management,” it reported, “has in many respects been reduced to a series of desperate attempts to meet the demands of vocal user groups without visibly destroying the resource.” It noted that the government itself acknowledged such failings: The fisheries department had admitted to it that “In the past, escapement targets have often been compromised on the basis of compelling social considerations.”(35)

The government continues to accommodate powerful fishing interests, compromising conservation requirements in the process.(36) One fisheries biologist charges that the allocation system “is dominated more by threat of civil disobedience than by reasoned analysis of where rights and privileges ought to lie.”(37) In setting catch limits, the government has accepted the fishing industry’s overly optimistic stock assessments, ignoring its own researchers’ more cautious recommendations.(38) The government doesn’t just face pressure from the commercial fishery. In 1987, Fishery Minister Tom Siddon’s efforts to reduce chinook sport fishing in the Georgia Strait prompted a massive postcard campaign that persuaded his government to refrain from strong action, settling instead on an ineffective compromise.(39) Pressured from all sides, the director of the fisheries department’s operations branch complains that his department resembles a ping pong ball, getting bounced between competing user groups.(40)

Powerful polluters have also long had the ear of government regulators. Having licensed–and frequently subsidized–polluters, and having benefitted politically from their promises of development and jobs, governments become apologists for them, refusing to implement or enforce strict regulations. A 1978 study found that 80 per cent of the discharges into the Fraser River estuary exceeded permitted limits for quality or quantity.(41) But the province feared that cleaning up B.C.’s waters might jeopardize its “close cooperation” with resource-based industries, as it explained in 1977 when opposing the strengthening of the federal Fisheries Act; the act, it continued, was “out of step with the multiple resource use essential to the development of a healthy economy.”(42)

Geoff Meggs chronicles a half century of governments’ turning a blind eye to pollution and habitat degradation. He describes both the provincial government’s disregard of fisheries resources when, in 1949, it invited Alcan to build the Kemano project, and the federal government’s failure to prosecute when Alcan refused to implement the fish mitigation measures it had recommended.(43) He recounts a federal fisheries regional director’s refusal in the 1960s to enforce waterflow agreements on rivers whose salmon runs had been depleted by dams or to enforce controls on pulp mill wastes. Despite the evidence to the contrary, the director insisted that his department had “pollution problems related to new industries fairly well under control.”(44) Confirming one economist’s 1965 assessment that forest companies “get away with murder through political blackmail,” Meggs relates the 1979 story of the government’s caving in to pressures from loggers whose activities damaged salmon habitat in the Queen Charlotte Islands. Fisheries Minister Romeo LeBlanc had authorized officers to charge 16 loggers and their employer with violating the Fisheries Act; however, when confronted with pressure from provincial officials, the woodworkers union and the company, he ordered the charges stayed and allowed logging to proceed.(45) Meggs also documents a fisheries habitat manager’s warning, in a 1989 memorandum, that “should the public discover how we are determining who should or should not be charged [it] would amount to a near scandal.” The manager explained, “We have determined that DFO-friendly corporations or parties with provincial permits . . . will enjoy relative immunity from the Fisheries Act. . . . A continuation of this philosophy will result in a wholesale loss of fish habitat and a continued degradation of water quality.”(46)

Not surprisingly, governments are equally reluctant to enforce pollution regulations when doing so would cost them money instead of political capital. Their approach to sewage pollution illustrates the conflicts of interest that exist when governments are both the polluter and the regulator. Sewage pollution is illegal. B.C.’s Waste Management Act purportedly limits the amount and type of contaminants in sewage treatment plants’ effluents. Many plants chronically fail to comply with permits issued under the act. Yet noncompliance rarely brings convictions: In the past six years, the province has convicted only two noncomplying plants. Nor is the federal government’s record more impressive. The federal Fisheries Act provides for fines of up to $1 million a day–and up to three years imprisonment for repeat offenders–for those that destroy fisheries habitat or deposit deleterious substances in water frequented by fish. The act, however, is rarely enforced; between 1977 and 1996, the federal government filed only three prosecutions against municipal sewage offenders.(47)

In 1993, the Save Georgia Strait Alliance and the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union, fed up with the Greater Vancouver Regional District’s dumping raw sewage from a combined sewer into Burrard Inlet, launched a private prosecution under the Fisheries Act. The provincial Crown soon took over the case from the private complainants, as is its policy, to ensure that prosecutions that proceed are in “the public interest.” In 1995, the Crown’s special prosecutor dropped the charges, explaining that the provincial and local governments had an unwritten agreement to allow the discharge of raw waste from overloaded pipes. What he did not mention was that the province found itself in a financial conflict of interest: Successful legal action would have proved expensive for the province, which finances between 25 and 75 per cent of the capital cost of upgrading sewage treatment facilities.(48)

All too often, government conflicts–political or financial–result in inaction. History illustrates the inertia that takes over when governments face tough decisions. Governments on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border have a long record of establishing inquiries into the Pacific salmon fishery and then ignoring their recommendations or delaying their implementation. An international commission, appointed in 1908 to investigate boundary fisheries, recommended regulations regarding gear size and location, a closed season and water pollution. Canada implemented the regulations but, seeing that the Americans had not done so, repealed them. Another joint commission, established in 1918, recommended that the two countries adopt a convention to preserve and protect salmon and establish a commission; the treaty, however, was not adopted. The countries finally signed a convention to protect the Fraser River and Puget Sound sockeye in 1929; however, it didn’t become effective until 1937, and the regulations recommended by the joint commission it established wouldn’t be promulgated for yet another eight years.(49)

Nor are contemporary governments more likely to act decisively, as is evidenced by their ignoring repeated warnings since the 1980s of a pending salmon crisis and their refusing to pursue–or to allow others to pursue–promising information-gathering and management initiatives.(50) The Fraser River Sockeye Public Review Board remarked when reviewing past reports, “we wonder to what extent their recommendations were actually taken seriously. . . . We wonder if anybody is listening.”(51) It is in governments’ self interest to delay in the face of uncertainty. In one critic’s words, bureaucrats “are rewarded not for effective action, but for making every problem disappear into an endless tangle of task force meetings and reviews.”(52) Sadly, few bureaucrats suffer the consequences of irresponsible management decisions or inaction. An absence of personal accountability characterizes both levels of government. Fisheries officials presiding over the decline of B.C.’s salmon stocks continue to enjoy professional rewards. Indeed, sanctions in the field are rare; even those responsible for the disastrous errors in Atlantic cod assessments have never been officially reprimanded.(53)

No one should be surprised that under governments’ not-so-watchful eyes, fishermen and industries have reduced B.C.’s salmon fisheries and habitats to their present state. Overfishing and habitat degradation have been predictable: Individuals, firms and organizations have simply responded rationally to a system of perverse incentives. Throughout the last century, fishermen have had incentives to catch as much as they could, for if they didn’t take the fish their competitors would have. Polluters have had incentives to foul rivers, estuaries and the ocean, since these waters have provided cheap waste disposal. Meanwhile governments, as discussed above, have had incentives to permit the resource destruction; overfishing and pollution, no matter how devastating, have offered short-term gains that have helped ensure their reelection.

Fisheries regimes need not be characterized by such perverse incentives. Alternative ownership and management structures can encourage stock conservation and habitat enhancement. A key characteristic of all such successful regimes is accountability, or the internalization of costs and benefits: Decision makers in the fisheries and in industry must stand to gain from wise decisions and lose from poor decisions. Fishermen must have incentives both to harvest efficiently and to “grow” salmon, either by conserving stocks or by increasing the productivity of their habitat. They must be confident that they will reap the rewards of activities that preserve or better the stocks; likewise, they must understand that they will bear the costs of any risks taken.(54) And industry must be accountable for any decision to pollute; only then will it have incentives to develop waste disposal methods that do not degrade habitat.

In general, regimes under which fishermen hold strong property rights provide the necessary accountability. Property rights give fishermen reasons to become more than mere harvesters. They create incentives to conserve and enhance stocks and to protect and restore the habitat on which they depend. The more secure the fishermen’s rights to the stocks, the more likely they are to profit from investment in their habitat’s productivity: As their resource grows, their catch will increase.(55) Secure rights also give fishermen powerful legal tools with which they can protect stocks and habitats. Under our legal system it is far easier to defend one’s own property against depletion or pollution than it is to protect common property.(56)

Several features characterize strong property rights regimes. One of the most important attributes of a property right is its exclusivity. Those holding exclusive rights may prevent others from using their resource.(57) The more exclusive the system of rights, the more completely internalized the costs, benefits and risks of any action will be. Since rights are only as exclusive as they are enforceable, enforceability is also an essential element of a successful property rights regime. Rights holders must be able to exercise maximum control over their assets.(58) Few will want to invest in a resource subject to interception or poaching. It has traditionally been feasible to limit access only to stationary species and others close to shore. But recent technological advances make it possible to control access to more mobile or distant fisheries, and thus to enforce property rights in them. Technological innovations and property rights create a virtuous circle: Property rights foster technological innovations, by giving people incentives to develop them; in turn, technological innovations foster the development and assignment of property rights, by making them easier and less costly to enforce. While some new technologies remain prohibitively expensive, many are becoming increasingly attractive and available to fisheries owners.(59)

The strongest property rights are perpetual. Permanent rights encourage management decisions that ensure long-term productivity rather than short-term gain. Strong rights are also transferable. Transferability enables efficient managers to buy out bad managers, ensuring that rights end up in the hands of those who can make the best use of them. Finally, under the strongest property rights regimes, decision making is devolved as far as possible. Decision making is most effective in a system that allows for full information. In the case of the fisheries, complex and varying ecologies often preclude decision making from afar. The best-informed decisions are often made by the fishermen themselves, who often have more detailed and more immediate knowledge of fisheries than a remote government does.

Various property rights regimes display the above characteristics to different degrees. Property falls on a continuum from unowned property (to which everyone enjoys unrestricted access), through common property (to which access is restricted to those holding licences or other rights), to solely owned property.(60) As the forms of property move along the continuum, their “rights-intensity” increases; they acquire more of the desirable characteristics of strong property rights.(61) Within the second category, for example, fall both limited licences and individual transferable quotas, or “ITQs.” Both constitute property and have acquired market values.(62) But ITQs, giving holders the right to take a specified quantity of fish or a specified percentage of a catch, generally offer greater exclusivity, duration and transferability.(63) ITQs are accordingly stronger property rights than are licences. As would be expected, the stronger right does indeed encourage more efficient and sustainable fishing. Because licence holders have no right to a specified quantity of fish, they retain incentives to expand their fishing power and to race for fish. In contrast, under many circumstances ITQs eliminate the race for fish. Secure quotas in a fishery in which effort does not increase considerably as the fishery nears its total allowable catch give fishermen incentives to fill their quota efficiently, keeping their costs as low as possible.(64) Quota holders may, of course, retain incentives to race to catch fish in the locations where (or at the times when) stocks are the most accessible, the most concentrated, the largest, or the highest quality.(65)

While quotas are generally superior to weaker forms of property rights, they do not always provide constructive incentives to those who hold them. It is often possible to fine tune quota systems to provide better results. But it may be better still to move along the continuum of property rights towards sole ownership, avoiding many of the problems posed by ITQs. One such problem concerns enforcement. Quotas do not eliminate incentives to cheat.(66) Monitoring and enforcement of catch limits would be difficult and costly in the B.C. salmon fishery, where thousands of small boats can land at hundreds of locations.(67) “Quota-busting” plagued early experiments with quotas in the Bay of Fundy herring fishery; fishermen and processors colluded to falsify catch records.(68) Enforcement has also proved problematic in New Zealand’s paua (abalone) fishery; illegal catches increase the total catch by 50 per cent.(69) Cheating on such a scale, in addition to immediately and adversely affecting stocks, interferes with their long-term management. When fishermen under-report their catches or otherwise falsify their reports, the quality of data on the fishery declines. And without reliable stock estimates managers cannot set optimal exploitation rates.(70)

Sole ownership–be it by individuals, communities, associations of rights holders or corporations–would facilitate enforcement. Geographically-based rights would be easier to enforce than catch-based rights; owners could monitor the entry of boats into their areas more easily than they could monitor the boats’ catches. If all fishing boats were equipped with transponders, the cost of monitoring their locations would constitute a small fraction of current enforcement costs.(71) Furthermore, if fisheries owners themselves, either independently or through associations or corporations they govern, set catch and size limits, they would have fewer reasons to cheat; their own rules would seem more reasonable than those set by remote governments. Ownership would also internalize some of the costs of cheating. To the extent that their under-reporting of catches reduced stocks and the reliability of information, owners would suffer the consequences.

Sole ownership would also reduce incentives to “highgrade,” or to discard smaller fish in favour of larger fish. Since discarded fish are often killed, highgraders would hurt their own future prospects. In contrast, the holders of numerically based quotas, who could take their quantity of fish regardless of the health of the stock, would have incentives to wastefully discard fish of lower value and to meet their quotas with only the highest quality fish yielding the greatest market value.(72) This practice has been observed in Atlantic trawlers filling their quotas for groundfish.(73) Quota systems may be designed to discourage highgrading. Assigning ITQs to a percentage of the catch would help internalize the costs of highgrading. Alternatively, the problem could be overcome by assigning separate quotas for fish of various values or by assigning a single quota by value rather than weight.(74)

The bycatch problem–the catching of fish of non-target species–also lends itself to sole-ownership solutions. Those holding geographically-based property rights would be allowed to catch any kind of fish within a given area. They would have incentives to maximize the catch mix and to waste no species. In contrast, single species quotas, if rigorously enforced, can create incentives to discard bycatch, killing the fish in the process. Managers often treat the catch of fish in which fishermen hold no quota as an offence, inadvertently encouraging fishermen to dump incidentally caught fish in order to avoid penalties.(75) New Zealand’s fishermen did just that when their government insisted that bycatch be forfeited to it. The government wisely responded by expanding the scope of property rights: It made bycatch species tradeable commodities, enabling fishermen to trade quota species for bycatch and reducing their incentive to wastefully discard otherwise valuable fish.(76)

Private ownership of geographic areas could also help address other issues associated with managing complex ecosystems where the fishing of one species affects other species, their habitat, their food sources or their prey. Under a quota system, single-species rights may create conflicts between the owners of interdependent species. If fishermen in one fishery can ignore the costs they impose on other fisheries, both rights holders and the ecosystem suffer. It may thus be necessary to give a single owner complete control over two or more interdependent fisheries.(77) If the owner of a fishery that is harvested in a way that inevitably harms another also owned the harmed fishery, his harvesting techniques would only harm himself.

One of the strongest arguments for sole ownership is that it limits the opportunities for government interference in a fishery. Many quota systems maintain considerable government involvement. Quota holders generally remain outside of management. The government continues to set the total allowable catches, to manage fish stocks, to assign quotas, and to assume responsibility for environmental protection.(78) Furthermore, in systems in which rights are assigned to absolute quantities of fish, the government may intervene to assign more rights or to buy back excess rights if the total catch is larger or smaller than expected.(79) But governments, as discussed above, have miserably mismanaged B.C.’s salmon fishery. A quota system would do little to eliminate the factors that have encouraged irresponsible management. Governments would not acquire new incentives or abilities to establish sustainable harvest levels. They would remain susceptible to political pressures. And the costs of their unwise decisions would continue to fall not on themselves but on the people who have a stake in the fishery.(80)

Political control over quotas has created uncertainty and resentment and prompted wasteful lobbying in Alaskan and New Zealand fisheries.(81) In the words of one New Zealander, “The spectre of too many fishermen chasing too few fish has been removed by the Individual Transferable Quota system only to be replaced by special interest groups fishing politically on land for a share of the resource. The spectre now is of government carving and recarving a pie whose worth is diminishing steadily in proportion to the time and effort spent squabbling over who is to get what. . . . Political allocation makes property rights insecure which in turn discourages investment. And when resource pies get sliced politically, one person’s gain is always another’s loss.”(82) The uncertainty that results from government control over the fisheries results in a weakening–and devaluing–of fishing rights. Without confidence that quotas are secure, fishermen will have fewer incentives to make long-term investments in efficient harvesting techniques or stock enhancement, potential purchasers will be unwilling to invest in them, and bankers will be unwilling to lend money against them.(83)

Self-managed ownership would remove decisions about catches and habitats from the political arena. After the initial allocation of rights, the matter would leave governments’ hands. Rights holders, or the associations or corporations representing them, would set catch limits, monitor fishing activity, enforce regulations, and exclude interlopers. Owner-managers would base harvest levels and methods on economic rather than political factors. Since economically efficient harvest levels are likely to be sustainable, economic decisions are more likely than their political counterparts to be ecologically sound. And those who wished to acquire rights wouldn’t waste resources lobbying government; they would simply purchase rights from others in market transactions that left buyer and seller better off.

A dearth of experience with sole ownership of Pacific salmon makes it difficult to confirm the theoretical advantages of strong property rights discussed above. While a number of aboriginal communities historically assigned exclusive rights to Pacific salmon, significant differences in fishing pressures, environmental threats and legal regimes call into question the usefulness of applying their solutions to contemporary problems.(84) More directly applicable are the experiences of the owners of inland Atlantic salmon fisheries. Despite the differences between the species–Atlantic salmon remain healthy when they return to their spawning grounds, making river fisheries feasible–similar principles should govern both.

Experience on both sides of the Atlantic ocean confirms that strong property rights provide fisheries owners with increased incentives to reduce fishing pressures, implement conservation measures, and enhance stocks and their habitats. Knowing that they will gain from any activities that better their stocks, those holding secure rights are more likely than others to engage in ecologically beneficial activities. And they are likely to put their resources to the highest valued use, that generally being sports fishing rather than commercial fishing.

In New Brunswick, where 45 per cent of the salmon rivers are privately owned, and another seven per cent are leased from the Crown, private owners have proven superior managers of salmon. Their exclusionary practices have long been credited with protecting salmon stocks on the province’s rivers. In the words of the former president of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, “Private ownership historically has given better stewardship of salmon rivers, and better management. It’s limited the pressure on the fishery.”(85) New Brunswick’s private owners generally restrict access to their waters, hiring wardens to keep away poachers, and limiting the number of people fishing in their pools. Many lodges and camps on the Miramichi and Restigouche rivers accommodate one or fewer guests per pool on any given day. Their practices contrast strikingly with those of the provincial government, which allows unrestricted public fishing in more than 70 per cent of the salmon waters it manages.(86)

It is in the owners’ economic interest to limit fishing pressures. Good salmon pools are valuable real estate, fetching millions of dollars on the market. They also attract anglers willing to pay hefty fees for a few days’ fishing. Several lodges charge between $350 and $450 a day for accommodations and fishing, while some charge over $900 a day.(87) These prices differ dramatically from those charged by the province. A New Brunswick salmon licence cost $17.12 for the 1995 season, a sum that even the province’s director of fisheries management has described as “a pittance.” The exclusive right to fish in a stretch of Crown reserve water costs only an additional $20 a day.(88)

Recent experience in Quebec confirms that people will conserve stocks when they will benefit economically from doing so. In the 1970s, Micmac Indians gillnetted salmon at the mouth of Quebec’s Cascapedia River, threatening the river’s salmon stocks and the sports fishery that depended on them. The netters had no incentive to reduce their catches, until, in 1982, they were granted half the seats on the board governing fishing in the river and a promise of half of the jobs generated by the river’s sport fishing industry. Enjoying broader rights, they realized that salmon were of far greater value to the sports fishery than to the net fishery: A salmon worth $3 a pound in a net generates $176 a pound in the sports fishery. They decreased their netting accordingly, contributing to a dramatic improvement in salmon fishing on the Cascapedia.(89)

Iceland’s inland sport fishing industry also illustrates the ecological and economic benefits conferred by strong property rights. There, all rivers are privately owned by those, mainly farmers, whose land borders them. Owners guard against poaching. Through fishing associations, they control the number of people fishing on a river. The fishing association for the 40-kilometre-long Nordura River permits only 12 rods a day on all of its 250 salmon pools combined. Such measures have helped create and protect some of the world’s most prolific salmon rivers.(90)

As in New Brunswick, Iceland’s fisheries owners have strong economic incentives to limit pressures on their stocks. The owners of productive rivers can get rich off fish. Farmers often lease their rights to angling clubs, outfitters, or individual fishermen. Anglers pay between $100 and $3,000 a day for good fishing opportunities. A farmer, bringing in on average $260 for each fish caught in his waters, can earn more than $100,000 annually from a fishing club. Others also benefit; each salmon caught typically brings $1,000 into Iceland’s economy.(91)

Iceland’s rights holders further reduce pressures on their fisheries by buying out their competitors. In 1989, the Angling Club of Reykjavik, which holds leases on 10 rivers, permanently bought out one of the country’s few remaining salmon netting operations.(92) On a grander scale, the Reykjavik-based North Atlantic Salmon Fund has raised $4 million–in part from those who hold rights to salmon fisheries in both Europe and North America–to purchase the rights of ocean fishermen off Greenland and the Faroe Islands who catch salmon that would otherwise return to rivers to spawn. The fund purchased the Faroe Island’s 1991 salmon quota for about $800,000, and has renewed the agreement every year since. In 1993 and 1994 the fund purchased Greenland’s salmon quota for about $400,000. It holds purchase options on future quotas for both countries, and intends to exercise them.(93)

In Scotland, whose rivers are world-famous for salmon fishing, exclusive, transferable rights to fish for salmon and trout, generally separate from any land rights, are held by individuals, companies, associations, trusts, fishing clubs, or the Crown. Here again, owners looking after their financial interests will limit pressures on their stocks. Anglers pay over $2,600 a day to fish on a good salmon river. Productive rivers are extremely valuable. Sale prices have reached $35,000 for each salmon in the average annual catch, or $3.5 million for a stretch of river producing an average of 100 salmon a year.(94)

To protect their fisheries, many Scottish owners set up district fishery boards, which appoint bailiffs to police the rivers.(95) More important, Scottish owners have a long history of excluding others from their fisheries by buying out those who have rights to fish, and then operating their newly acquired fisheries at a reduced intensity or shutting them down completely. Those with rights to rod fisheries were purchasing rights from net fishermen as early as the eighteenth century. In the late nineteenth century, rod fishermen removed nets from the rivers Dee and Tay. More recently, anglers have established the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Trust (Scotland) to purchase and retire salmon netting stations along the coast, in rivers, and in estuaries. Netting stations currently cost approximately $50 per fish in the average annual catch. As salmon farming reduces the price of salmon and lowers the profitability of ocean netting operations, buy-outs of commercial netting operations will become less expensive.(96)

Fisheries owners don’t just conserve existing stocks; they improve them. Confident that they will be able to reap the rewards, they invest considerable money and effort in both stock and habitat enhancement. Iceland’s Ranga River is a case in point. A volcanic eruption in 1941 killed most of the river’s fish, and deposited on the river bed sand that prevented salmon eggs from surviving. The river supported little fishing for decades. In 1984, fishermen caught only 10 salmon in the river; in 1985, 17. In the late 1980s, a fishing guide started experimenting with restocking the Ranga’s salmon using smolt ponds. He soon acquired a lease on the entire river, where he runs a lodge and outfits fishermen; he stocks the river with between 75,000 and 100,000 smolts every year. Landowners are also improving the river, creating fish lies and spawning areas and installing a fish ladder at a large waterfall. Their efforts have paid off, making the Ranga one of the more productive rivers in the country. In 1995, anglers caught over 1,500 fish in the river. They paid handsomely to do so; the cost of accommodations and fishing on the Ranga can be as high as $800 a day.(97)

The owners of fishery rights in Scotland similarly understand that their economic future is tied to their fisheries’ health. They often form district salmon fishery boards that protect and develop their stocks by operating hatcheries and improving rivers. Such efforts are not restricted to sport fishermen; those with commercial netting rights in bays and estuaries help finance enhancement projects.(98)

Strong property rights also provide fisheries owners with the authority–and the legal tools–to protect their resources from pollution. Those holding strong property rights in fisheries need not rely on the governments to protect their interests; they may take matters into their own hands and sue those who violate their rights. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in Britain, where virtually all inland fisheries, except those in public reservoirs, are privately owned.(99) British fisheries owners may sue those who, by polluting or obstructing lakes or rivers, harm their assets. Many who own or lease threatened fisheries have sought the assistance of the Anglers’ Co-operative Association (renamed the Anglers’ Conservation Association in 1994), a 16,000-member self-supporting voluntary organization that finances common law court cases, helping fisheries owners obtain both injunctions to clean up rivers and damages to compensate for losses. The Association has brought some 2,000 actions since its founding in 1948; it has lost only two.(100)

In its early years, the Anglers’ Co-operative Association won legal battles against a paper mill, steel and iron companies, a chemical company, a power station, polluting farmers and numerous local authorities that fouled rivers with sewage.(101) In the 1990s its targets have included a sewage treatment plant whose phosphate-laced effluent killed fish in a Welsh lake, a water company applying for permission to withdraw water from small streams near Canterbury and a trout-farm owner who allowed rainbows to escape into a river inhabited by brown trout.(102) Association members have frequently fought pollution occurring far away from their fishing areas. Pollution in an estuary or in the lower reaches of a river may prevent salmon and trout from migrating upstream to spawn. Courts have ruled that such chemical pollution creates a material obstruction to the free passage of fish, violating the rights of fisheries owners.(103)

The Anglers’ Co-operative Association has found that even fishermen who do not take their cases to court will benefit from the preventative effect of possessing actionable rights: The credible threat of a lawsuit has served as an excellent deterrent. As the Association’s successes have gained prominence, polluters’ determination to defend themselves in court has decreased. Cooperation has often replaced resistance. When approached by the Association, a number of corporations and local governments have decided against building facilities that would pollute or obstruct rivers or have taken measures to correct existing pollution in order to avoid lawsuits.(104)

Occasionally, fishermen in Canada have likewise exercised their rights to protect their privately held fisheries from pollution. New Brunswick, where the Crown granted fishing rights along with land to early settlers, and where many fisheries remain in private hands, has seen several such challenges. One early case was launched by the Nepisiquit Real Estate and Fishing Company, which owned a number of lots along the last 20 miles of the Nepisiquit River, where its members fished for salmon and trout. During the summer of 1912, the Canadian Iron Corporation discoloured the river’s waters while grinding up and washing its iron ore–a process that caused leakage into one of the river’s tributaries. The fishing company went to court, claiming that the pollution injured spawning grounds and practically destroyed its fishing privileges. Although Canadian Iron denied the charges, the judge hearing the case had visited the site and had seen the dirtied, muddied water. He explained that a riparian (a person living beside a lake or a river) “has the right to the full flow of the water in its natural state, without any diminution or pollution.”(105) The iron mill had unquestionably altered the Nepisiquit’s natural condition. The judge accordingly restrained the company from polluting the river. Happily, the salmon soon returned.(106)

In 1963, New Brunswick riparians sued for a different kind of damage to their fisheries: that caused by hydroelectric dams. Three dams built in the 1950s and 1960s on the St. John River and its tributaries virtually destroyed a great salmon river system. The Tobique Salmon Club owned 50 miles of riparian rights along the Tobique River, a tributary of the St. John. When the New Brunswick Power Commission built its three dams, the club sued it, settling for $400,000, which it used to purchase a fishing camp on Quebec’s Matapedia River.(107)

Clearly, even armed with the strongest property rights, fisheries owners don’t always prevent harmful developments or eliminate pollution. Sometimes it is cheaper for polluters to compensate or to completely buy out their victims. As long as fisheries owners can obtain injunctions against polluters, they can make meaningful choices between defending their fishery and accepting an offer from a polluter. Armed with the power to shut a polluter down, fisheries owners are in a strong bargaining position. They may insist that the pollution stop. Alternatively, they and the polluter may reach a satisfactory compromise involving the installation of abatement equipment or operational changes. Or the polluter may make it worth the fisheries owner’s while to leave the business. The resulting bargains, freely and fairly arrived at, reflect the values and circumstances of all directly involved parties.

In Eastern Canada and in Europe, exclusive property rights have both encouraged and enabled individuals and firms to conserve salmon stocks and to preserve their habitats. How applicable are such experiences to British Columbia? It obviously would not be feasible to follow the owners of Atlantic salmon in restricting harvesting of Pacific salmon to spawning grounds, since the fish would have deteriorated, and would be of little value, by the time they arrived there. The extent to which specific stocks could be controlled by restricting fisheries to river mouths has been much debated but, ironically, little studied. Some have suggested that it is precisely that opportunity for control that makes salmon particularly well suited to private ownership. Others have noted that the solution may be more appropriate for some rivers and species than others. For example, it may be better to catch chum, which have already begun to deteriorate as they approach their spawning streams’ mouths, further offshore. Still others, noting offshore fishing’s important contribution to managers’ understanding of stock sizes, have warned that confining fishing to terminal fisheries near rivers of origin could jeopardize this knowledge.(108)

While limiting fishing to the mouths of rivers holds promise and warrants further investigation, technological innovations may increasingly obviate the need for such limitations. Many recent innovations are variations on branding, the mechanism long used to identify and claim cattle grazing in the commons. Implanting tiny computer chips in fish permits people to identify them as they pass by a monitor. Genetic fingerprinting makes it possible to learn which stream a salmon hatched in; analysis of the elemental content of one scale from a fish likewise makes possible the identification of the fish’s natal stream. A simpler solution involves identifying salmon with an externally visible mark indicating their origin. As salmons’ rivers of origin become readily identifiable, it becomes possible for their original owners to assert ownership over them even while they are at sea. Those who caught marked fish could be required to release them unharmed or to pay their owners for them.(109)

While enforcement may remain difficult, it is hard to believe that private owners would fare nearly as badly as have public agencies. Experience confirms the theory that private owners will invest in the monitoring and enforcement required to protect their valuable assets. Indeed, both theory and practice encourage optimism on all fronts. Both suggest that private owners will be better managers, that they will operate the fishery more efficiently and that under their care B.C.’s salmon stocks will recover their former magnificence.

Works Cited

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———-. “Fishing for Property Rights to Fish.” In Taking the Environment Seriously, edited by Roger E. Meiners and Bruce Yandle. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1993.

Anglers’ Co-operative Association. ACA Review (Summer 1993).

———-. “Notes for Speakers.”

Bate, Roger. English and Welsh Rivers, A Common Law Approach to Pollution Prevention. Unpublished Masters thesis, Cambridge University, 1993.

———-. “Water Pollution Prevention: A Nuisance Approach.” Economic Affairs (April 1994): 13-14.

British Columbia. News release, November 8, 1995. Quoted in Valhalla Wilderness Society Educational Bulletin no. 28 (February 20, 1996): 7.

———-. B.C. Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. Non-Compliance Pollution Lists. July 13, 1990 – September 30, 1995.

———-. B.C. Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. Summary of Municipal Treatment Facilities. 1991.

Brubaker, Elizabeth. Property Rights in the Defence of Nature. London: Earthscan, 1995.

———-. “The Ecological Implications of Establishing Property Rights in Atlantic Fisheries.” Chapter in a book to be published by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies in the fall of 1996.

Canada. “Minister announces plan to revitalize salmon fishery.” News release, March 29, 1996.

———-. Environment Canada. Municipal Water Use Database. 1994.

———-. Fisheries Minister Fred Mifflin. Interview on CBC Radio’s Morningside, April 24, 1996.

Copes, Parzival. “A Critical Review of the Individual Quota as a Device in Fisheries Management.” Land Economics 62, no. 3 (August 1986): 278-291.

Dales, J. H. Pollution, Property & Prices: An Essay in Policy-Making and Economics. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1968.

De Alessi, Michael. Emerging Technologies and the Private Stewardship of Marine Resources. Washington: Center for Private Conservation, January 1996.

Fraser River Sockeye Public Review Board. Fraser River Sockeye 1994: Problems and Discrepancies. Ottawa: Public Works and Government Services Canada, 1995.

Gregory, Homer E., and Kathleen Barnes. North Pacific Fisheries. San Francisco: American Council, Institute of Pacific Relations, 1939.

Hide, Rodney P., and Peter Ackroyd. Depoliticising Fisheries Management: Chatham Islands’ Paua (Abalone) as a Case Study. Unpublished Report for R. D. Beattie Ltd., March 1990.

Higgs, Robert. “Legally Induced Technical Regress in the Washington Salmon Fishery.” Research in Economic History 7 (1982): 55-86.

Jeffreys, Kent. “Rescuing the Oceans.” In The True State of the Planet, edited by Ronald Bailey, 295-338. New York: The Free Press, 1995.

Johnsen, D. Bruce. “The Formation and Protection of Property Rights Among the Southern Kwakiutl Indians.” Journal of Legal Studies 15 (January 1986): 41-67.

Johnson, Ronald N., and Gary D. Libecap. “Contracting Problems and Regulation: The Case of the Fishery.” American Economic Review 72, no. 5 (December 1982): 1005-22.

Keen, E. A. “Common property in fisheries: Is sole ownership an option?” Marine Policy (July 1983): 197-211.

Levy, D.A., L. U. Young, and L. W. Dwernychuk. Strait of Georgia Fisheries Sustainability Review: Summary Report. Prepared for eight B.C. forest industry companies by Hatfield Consultants Ltd., January 1996.

“Mavericks.” W5. CTV Television Network, November 7, 1995.

Meggs, Geoff. Salmon: The Decline of the British Columbia Fishery. Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 1991.

Nantel, Martin. Municipal Wastewater Pollution in British Columbia. Toronto: Environment Probe, May 1996.

Nepisiquit Real Estate and Fishing Company, Limited v. Canadian Iron Corporation, Limited (1913), 42 N.B.R. 387 (Ch.D.).

Pearse, Peter H. “Developing Property Rights as Instruments of Natural Resources Policy: The Case of the Fisheries.” In Climate Change: Designing a Tradeable Permit System, 109-22. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1992.

———-. Property Rights and the Regulation of Commercial Fisheries. Resources Paper no. 42. Department of Economics, University of British Columbia, August, 1979.

———-. Rising to the Challenge: A New Policy for Canada’s Freshwater Fisheries. The Canadian Wildlife Federation, 1988.

———-. Turning the Tide: A New Policy for Canada’s Pacific Fisheries. Final Report of the Commission on Pacific Fisheries Policy, September 1982.

Pearse, Peter H., and Carl J. Walters. “Harvesting regulation under quota management systems for ocean fisheries: Decision making in the face of natural variability, weak information, risks and conflicting incentives.” Marine Policy (May 1992):167-82.

People for Puget Sound and Save Georgia Strait Alliance. Transboundary Sewage Report. February 1995.

Scott, Anthony D. “Conceptual Origins of Rights Based Fishing” In Rights Based Fishing, edited by Philip A. Neher, Ragnar Arnason, and Nina Mollett. Proceedings of the NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Scientific Foundations for Rights Based Fishing, Reykjavik, Iceland, June 27 – July 1, 1988, NATO ASI Series, Series E: Applied Sciences – Vol. 169. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1988.

———-. “The Fishery: The Objectives of Sole Ownership.” The Journal of Political Economy 63, no. 2 (April 1955): 116-24.

Sewage Treatment Review Panel. Report of the Sewage Treatment Review Panel. Prepared for Regional Engineers Advisory Committee and Greater Vancouver Regional District, December 9, 1992.

Sierra Legal Defence Fund. The National Sewage Report Card: Rating the Treatment Methods and Discharges of 20 Canadian Cities. June 1994.

Townsend, Ralph, and James A. Wilson. “An Economic View of the Tragedy of the Commons.” In The Question of the Commons: The Culture and Ecology of Communal Resources. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1987.

Walters, Carl. Fish on the Line: The Future of Pacific Fisheries. A Report to The David Suzuki Foundation, Fisheries Project, Phase I, 1995.

Wilen, James E. “Rent Generation in Limited Entry Fisheries.” In Rights Based Fishing, edited by Philip A. Neher, Ragnar Arnason, and Nina Mollett. Proceedings of the NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Scientific Foundations for Rights Based Fishing, Reykjavik, Iceland, June 27 – July 1, 1988, NATO ASI Series, Series E: Applied Sciences – Vol. 169. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1988.

Williamson, Robert. Salmon Fisheries in Scotland. Pitlochry, Perthshire: Atlantic Salmon Trust, September 1991.

———-. “Scottish salmon fishing rights, a transferable property: the consequences for administration and regulation.” Paper presented at ICREI colloquium, Paris, January 28, 1993.

Wilson, James A., and Lloyd M. Dickie. “Parametric Management: An Ecological – Social Approach.” Draft revision of Wilson and Dickie. “Parametric Management of Fisheries: An Ecosystem – Social Approach.” In Property Rights in a Social and Ecological Context, edited by Susan Hanna and Mohan Munasinghe. Stockholm and Washington: The Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics and The World Bank, 1995.

Newspaper articles:

Anon. “Politics of sewage.” Editorial, Vancouver Sun, January 18, 1996.

Cernetig, Miro. “B.C. faces massive fishery shutdown.” Globe and Mail, March 29, 1996.

———-. “B.C. fish watchdog failing: memos.” Globe and Mail, March 7, 1995.

———-. “Fish are key interest group in salmon crisis.” Globe and Mail, April 18, 1996.

———-. “Fishery controls left gaping holes.” Globe and Mail, September 20, 1994.

———-. “Reports highlight crisis in fishery.” Globe and Mail, February 3, 1995.

———-. “Scaling back to save salmon.” Globe and Mail, July 8, 1995.

Damsell, Keith. “Tobin shuts Fraser River salmon fishing.” Financial Post, August 11, 1995.

Howard, Ross. “Size of fleet questioned as sockeye run awaited.” Globe and Mail, August 9, 1995.

Lee, Philip. “Americans on the river.” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 12, 1995.

———-. “Death and resurrection of a river.” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, November 7, 1995.

———-. “A family in the business of conservation.” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 27, 1995.

———-. “‘The government is us.'” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, November 11, 1995.

———-. “Guardian anglers.” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 2, 1995.

———-. “How ‘crazy’ Wilf Carter invented a salmon run.” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 5, 1995.

———-. “How the Scots saved their salmon.” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 24, 1995.

———-. “The lessons of the Ranga.” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 19, 1995.

———-. “McKenna’s million-dollar fishing hole.” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, November 4, 1995.

———-. “A mission for the millenium [sic].” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 21, 1995.

———-. “A report card on our rivers: 44 flunk test.” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 9, 1995.

———-. “The river people.” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 11, 1995.

———-. “The royal river is losing its crown.” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 25, 1995.

———-. “Tobique Salmon Club: Quebec’s gain, our shame.” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, November 14, 1995.

———-. “Where all the rivers are privately owned.” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 17, 1995.

———-. “Why Iceland’s salmon thrive.” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 18, 1995.

———-. “Winning hearts and minds.” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 28, 1995.

Morton, Peter. “The never-ending story.” Financial Post, March 16, 1996.

Simpson, Scott. “Politics cited as GVRD let off in pollution case.” Vancouver Sun, May 17, 1995.


1. Miro Cernetig, “B.C. faces massive fishery shutdown,” Globe and Mail, March 29, 1996.

2. Fraser River Sockeye Public Review Board, Fraser River Sockeye 1994: Problems and Discrepancies (Ottawa: Public Works and Government Services Canada, 1995), xii, 12.

3. Carl Walters, Fish on the Line: The Future of Pacific Fisheries, A Report to The David Suzuki Foundation, Fisheries Project, Phase I, 1995, 4.

4. Keith Damsell, “Tobin shuts Fraser River salmon fishing,” Financial Post, August 11, 1995.

5. B.C. government news release, November 8, 1995, quoted in Valhalla Wilderness Society Educational Bulletin No. 28, February 20, 1996.

6. D. A. Levy, L. U. Young and L. W. Dwernychuk, Strait of Georgia Fisheries Sustainability Review: Summary Report, prepared for eight B.C. forest industry companies by Hatfield Consultants Ltd., January 1996, xvii, xviii, 224.

7. Peter Morton, “The never-ending story,” Financial Post, March 16, 1996.

8. “Mavericks,” W5, CTV Television Network, November 7, 1995, quoting Carl Walters.

9. Walters, op. cit., 44.

10. Ibid., 3, 5, 9, 11; Levy et al., op. cit., xv.

11. Government of Canada, “Minister announces plan to revitalize salmon fishery,” News release, March 29, 1996.

12. Walters, op. cit., 24; Miro Cernetig, “Scaling back to save salmon,” Globe and Mail, July 8, 1995; Fred Mifflin, Morningside, CBC Radio, April 24, 1996.

13. Fraser River Board, op. cit., 39; Walters, op. cit., 38.

14. Fraser River Board, ibid., xiii.

15. Peter H. Pearse, Turning the Tide: A New Policy for Canada’s Pacific Fisheries, Final Report of the Commission on Pacific Fisheries Policy, September 1982, 51-52; Walters, op. cit., 5, 34.

16. Walters, op. cit., 9.

17. Geoff Meggs, Salmon: The Decline of the British Columbia Fishery (Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 1991).

18. Pearse, 1982, op. cit., 13, 14, 19.

19. Fraser River Board, op. cit., 3-4; Meggs, op. cit., 90-100.

20. Meggs, ibid., 3, 10, 81-82, 200-18, 235-47; Levy et al., op. cit., xv-xx, chapters 4, 6, 7; Valhalla Wilderness Society, op. cit.

21. B.C. Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, Summary of Municipal Treatment Facilities, 1991; Environment Canada, Municipal Water Use Database, 1994.

22. B.C. Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, Non-Compliance Pollution Lists, July 13, 1990 to September 30, 1995.

23. Fraser River Board, op. cit., 70.

24. Sewage Treatment Review Panel, Report of the Sewage Treatment Review Panel, prepared for Regional Engineers Advisory Committee and Greater Vancouver Regional District, December 9, 1992, 3-2.

25. Martin Nantel, Municipal Wastewater Pollution in British Columbia, Environment Probe, May 1996; Sierra Legal Defence Fund, The National Sewage Report Card: Rating the Treatment Methods and Discharges of 20 Canadian Cities, June 1994; People for Puget Sound and Save Georgia Strait Alliance, Transboundary Sewage Report, February 1995.

26. Pearse, 1982, op. cit., 23, 29, 34.

27. Walters, op. cit., 26, 69-70.

28. Ibid., 42-43; personal communication with Robert Martinolich, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Conservation and Protection, Enforcement Branch, May 7, 1996; Miro Cernetig, “Scaling back to save salmon,” op. cit.

29. Miro Cernetig, “Fishery controls left gaping holes,” Globe and Mail, September 20, 1994.

30. Fraser River Board, op. cit., 18, 45, 58-62.

31. Miro Cernetig, “Reports highlight crisis in fishery,” Globe and Mail, February 3, 1995.

32. Levy et al., op. cit., xvi, xix-xx.

33. Meggs, op. cit., 32-34, 38.

34. Pearse, 1982, op. cit., 78.

35. Ibid., 37.

36. Levy et al., op. cit., 224.

37. Walters, op. cit., 5.

38. Miro Cernetig, “Fish are key interest group in salmon crisis,” Globe and Mail, April 18, 1996.

39. Walters, op. cit., 27.

40. “Mavericks,” op. cit., quoting Paul Sprout.

41. Pearse, 1982, op. cit., 21, citing Fraser River Estuary Study Steering Committee, Fraser River Estuary Study Summary, 1978.

42. Ibid., citing letter from B.C. Premier to Prime Minister of Canada, April 27, 1977.

43. Meggs, op. cit., 200-01.

44. Ibid., 204-06.

45. Ibid., 206, quoting James Crutchfield, 216.

46. Ibid., 244-45, quoting Otto Langer.

47. Nantel, op. cit., 14-15, 17-18.

48. Scott Simpson, “Politics cited as GVRD let off in pollution case,” Vancouver Sun, May 17, 1995; “Politics of sewage,” editorial, Vancouver Sun, January 18, 1996; Nantel, op. cit., 15.

49. Homer E. Gregory and Kathleen Barnes, North Pacific Fisheries (San Francisco: American Council, Institute of Pacific Relations, 1939), 72-75.

50. Walters, op. cit., 30; Miro Cernetig, “B.C. fish watchdog failing: memos,” Globe and Mail, March 7, 1995; Ross Howard, “Size of fleet questioned as sockeye run awaited,” Globe and Mail, August 9, 1995.

51. Fraser River Board, op. cit., 12, 38.

52. Walters, op. cit., 49.

53. Ibid., 22.

54. E. A. Keen, “Common property in fisheries: Is sole ownership an option?” Marine Policy (July 1983): 202-3.

55. Ibid., 197-98, 203; Walters, op. cit., 50-51; Anthony D. Scott, “Conceptual Origins of Rights Based Fishing,” in Philip A. Neher, Ragnar Arnason, and Nina Mollett, eds., Rights Based Fishing, Proceedings of the NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Scientific Foundations for Rights Based Fishing, Reykjavik, Iceland, June 27 to July 1, 1988, NATO ASI Series, Series E: Applied Sciences, Vol. 169, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1988, 33; Rodney P. Hide and Peter Ackroyd, Depoliticising Fisheries Management: Chatham Islands’ Paua (Abalone) as a Case Study, Unpublished Report for R. D. Beattie Ltd., March 1990, 42-44; Peter H. Pearse and Carl J. Walters, “Harvesting regulation under quota management systems for ocean fisheries: Decision making in the face of natural variability, weak information, risks and conflicting incentives,” Marine Policy (May 1992): 175-76; Peter H. Pearse, “Developing Property Rights as Instruments of Natural Resources Policy: The Case of the Fisheries,” Climate Change: Designing a Tradeable Permit System (Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1992), 117-18, 120.

56. Elizabeth Brubaker, Property Rights in the Defence of Nature (London: Earthscan, 1995); Elizabeth Brubaker, “The Ecological Implications of Establishing Property Rights in Atlantic Fisheries,” chapter in a book to be published by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies in the fall of 1996.

57. Peter H. Pearse, Property Rights and the Regulation of Commercial Fisheries, Resources Paper no. 42, Department of Economics, University of British Columbia, August, 1979, 13.

58. Anthony Scott, “The Fishery: The Objectives of Sole Ownership,” The Journal of Political Economy 63, no. 2 (April 1955): 116-17.

59. Michael De Alessi, Emerging Technologies and the Private Stewardship of Marine Resources, Center for Private Conservation, January 1996, 9-10; Walters, op. cit., 45, 54, 67.

60. Pearse, 1979, op. cit., 13-16.

61. Scott, 1988, op. cit., 11-12.

62. Ibid., 24; Neher, op. cit., 265.

63. Scott, ibid., 26-27.

64. Pearse, 1982, op. cit., 84.

65. Ralph Townsend and James A. Wilson, “An Economic View of the Tragedy of the Commons,” The Question of the Commons: The Culture and Ecology of Communal Resources (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1987), 321; Terry L. Anderson and Donald R. Leal, “Fishing for Property Rights to Fish,” Taking the Environment Seriously, Roger E. Meiners and Bruce Yandle, eds. (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1993), 164; Parzival Copes, “A Critical Review of the Individual Quota as a Device in Fisheries Management,” Land Economics 62, no. 3 (August 1986): 286; Ronald N. Johnson and Gary D. Libecap, “Contracting Problems and Regulation: The Case of the Fishery,” American Economic Review 72, no. 5 (December 1982): 1014.

66. Walters, op. cit., 17; Anderson and Leal, ibid., 164.

67. Copes, op. cit., 282.

68. Ibid.

69. Hide and Ackroyd, op. cit., 36.

70. Copes, op. cit., 282.

71. Walters, op. cit., 67.

72. Townsend and Wilson, op. cit., 321.

73. Copes, op. cit., 285.

74. Ibid., 289; Neher, op. cit., 115.

75. Pearse, 1992, op. cit., 118.

76. Kent Jeffreys, “Rescuing the Oceans,” The True State of the Planet, Ronald Bailey, ed. (New York: The Free Press, 1995), 310.

77. James A. Wilson and Lloyd M. Dickie, “Parametric Management: An Ecological-Social Approach,” 12, draft revision of Wilson and Dickie, “Parametric Management of Fisheries: An Ecosystem-Social Approach,” Property Rights in a Social and Ecological Context, eds. Susan Hanna and Mohan Munasinghe (Stockholm and Washington: The Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics and The World Bank, 1995), 153-66.

78. Scott, 1988, op. cit., 27.

79. Pearse, 1992, op. cit., 117-18, 120.

80. Anderson and Leal, 1993, op. cit., 168, 180; Hide and Ackroyd, op. cit., 62, 68.

81. De Alessi, op. cit., 4.

82. Hide and Ackroyd, op. cit., 1-2.

83. Ibid., 35; De Alessi, op. cit., 4; Neher, op. cit., 115.

84. Meggs, op. cit., 53-54; Robert Higgs, “Legally Induced Technical Regress in the Washington Salmon Fishery,” Research in Economic History 7 (1982): 58-60; D. Bruce Johnsen, “The Formation and Protection of Property Rights Among the Southern Kwakiutl Indians,” Journal of Legal Studies15 (January 1986): 41-67.

85. Philip Lee, “How ‘crazy’ Wilf Carter invented a salmon run,” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 5, 1995.

86. Philip Lee, “Guardian anglers,” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 2, 1995.

87. Ibid.; Philip Lee, “The river people,” “Americans on the river,” and “McKenna’s million-dollar fishing hole,” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 11, 1995, October 12, 1995, and November 4, 1995, respectively.

88. Philip Lee, “A report card on our rivers: 44 flunk test,” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 9, 1995.

89. Peter H. Pearse, Rising to the Challenge: A New Policy for Canada’s Freshwater Fisheries

The Canadian Wildlife Federation, 1988, 82-84; Philip Lee, “‘The government is us,'” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, November 11, 1995.

90. Philip Lee, “Where all the rivers are privately owned” and “Why Iceland’s salmon thrive,” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 17 and 18, 1995, respectively.

91. “Mavericks,” op. cit.; Lee, “Why Iceland’s salmon thrive,” ibid.

92. Lee, ibid.

93. Philip Lee, “A mission for the millenium [sic],” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 21, 1995.

94. Robert Williamson, “Scottish salmon fishing rights, a transferable property: the consequences for administration and regulation,” Paper presented at ICREI colloquium, Paris, January 28, 1993; Robert Williamson, Salmon Fisheries in Scotland, Atlantic Salmon Trust, Pitlochry, Perthshire, September 1991, 18; Philip Lee, “How the Scots saved their salmon,” and “Winning hearts and minds,” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 24 and 28, 1995, respectively.

95. Williamson, 1993, ibid.

96. Ibid.; Williamson, 1991, op. cit., 11, 14-15; Lee, “How the Scots saved their salmon,” op. cit.; Philip Lee, “The royal river is losing its crown,” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 25, 1995; Terry L. Anderson and Donald R. Leal, “Homesteading the Oceans,” Free Market Environmentalism (San Francisco: Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy and Westview Press, 1991), 129-30.

97. Philip Lee, “The lessons of the Ranga,” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 19, 1995.

98. Williamson, 1993, op. cit., 3; Philip Lee, “A family in the business of conservation,” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, October 27, 1995.

99. J. H. Dales, Pollution, Property & Prices: An Essay in Policy-Making and Economics (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1968), 68, citing Douglas Clark, “Fisheries and Wildlife Values in Pollution.”

100. Anglers’ Co-operative Association, “Notes for Speakers”; personal communication with Anglers’ Conservation Association staffer, April 12, 1996; Roger Bate, “Water Pollution Prevention: A Nuisance Approach,” Economic Affairs (April 1994): 14; Roger Bate, English and Welsh Rivers, A Common Law Approach to Pollution Prevention, unpublished Masters thesis, Cambridge University, 1993, 52-54.

101. Anglers’ Co-operative Association, “Notes for Speakers”; Bate, 1993, ibid., 54-61, 72-74.

102. Anglers’ Co-operative Association, ACA Review, Summer 1993.

103. Bate, 1993, op. cit., 57, 60.

104. Ibid., 68-70.

105. Nepisiquit Real Estate and Fishing Company, Limited v. Canadian Iron Corporation, Limited (1913), 42 N.B.R. 387 (Ch.D.), 392.

106. Philip Lee, “Death and resurrection of a river,” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, November 7, 1995.

107. Philip Lee, “Tobique Salmon Club: Quebec’s gain, our shame,” New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, November 14, 1995; personal communication with Philip Lee, April 12, 1996.

108. James E. Wilen, “Rent Generation in Limited Entry Fisheries,” in Neher et al., Rights Based Fishingop. cit., 259; Walters, op. cit., 43; Pearse, 1982, op. cit., 44-45, 47.

109. De Alessi, op. cit., 9-10; Walters, op. cit., 45, 54, 67.

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