By any reasonable measure the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy, the sickly sibling of its ailing Common Agricultural Policy, has failed. Created in 1971 to increase productivity, promote technical progress, open up access for European fishermen to all Community fishing grounds and "promote a fair standard of living" for fisherman, the CFP has netted the opposite result: Too many fishermen chase too few fish, fishing villages are as poor as inner-city slums, and competition from overseas markets is increasing due to technological advances in fish storage and shipping.
This paper, published in Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, was prepared for Property Rights, Economics & Environment: Water Resources, an international conference organised by the Centre d’Analyse Economique and the International Center for Research on Environmental Issues in 1998. In the paper, Elizabeth Brubaker compares four approaches to the privatization and regulation of water and sewage utilities and explores the environmental implications of each approach.
A chapter from Taking Ownership: Property Rights and Fishery Management on the Atlantic Coast, a collection of essays edited by Brian Lee Crowley explaining the theory behind rights-based fishing and reviewing practical experience with tradeable quota systems and community ownership in various jurisdictions. In this chapter, Elizabeth Brubaker examines the ways in which property rights provide individual and community fisheries owners with both the legal tools to fight pollution and the economic incentives to reduce fishing pressures, implement conservation measures, and enhance stocks and their habitats.
This book focuses on the power inherent in common law trespass, nuisance and riparian property rights as a means of enabling individuals to protect the environment. Brubaker indicates that the use of these rights as a means of environmental conservation has fallen into disuse as environmentalists concentrate more of their efforts on lobbying governments for increased regulations.
In this final bid to shed light on the issue of privatizing fish resources, it is left for me to propose an alternative. After all, critics may interpret my opposition to private property rights in the fishery as inferring that I support the current system of heavy-handed federal control of the vast resource off our coast. Far from it.
f the landlubbers in the reading audience will indulge me for another column, I will elaborate a bit further on conserving fish stocks through privatizing marine fish quotas. The primary mechanism for this is assigning individual transferable quotas (ITQs). We only have to look at Canadian experience with ITQs to know it will not work.
As I sit down to write this third column on the topic which I (but not the headline writers) call "The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons," I am acutely aware of being steamrolled by the current daily run of articles advocating an opposite editorial point of view.