Short-sighted governments have razed Canada’s forests and depleted her fisheries, demonstrating that they cannot be trusted as custodians of precious resources. Environment Probe’s surveys of countries that are protecting their natural resources have found that decentralized holdings — whether community based or privately held — generally serve the environment and the economy well. Environment Probe’s campaigns to decentralize natural resource holdings have garnered praise from diverse interests, from native forestry activists to Australian fishermen.
Environment Probe’s fisheries work has focused on the need to create stronger property rights in fisheries. Conventional fisheries management regimes give fishers incentives to over-fish. In contrast, establishing secure, exclusive, perpetual, transferable rights to fisheries creates incentives to fish sustainably.
Fisheries rights may take many forms. They may be individual or communal. They may be geographic — a fisher may have rights to a particular stretch of a river, or to a particular reef. For many fisheries, the most promising rights are ITQs — individual transferable quotas that give fisheries the rights to specific shares of a catch.