On July 2, 1992, Canada’s fisheries minister banned cod fishing off the northeast coast of Newfoundland and off the southern half of Labrador. The northern cod stock, once one of the richest in the world, had collapsed. The moratorium on northern cod marked an unprecedented disaster for virtually all of Canada’s Atlantic groundfisheries – the fisheries for species that feed near the ocean floor.
In this presentation to a Student Seminar on Public Policy Issues, held in Toronto, Ontario, in November 1997, Elizabeth Brubaker argues that remote, centralized governments, driven by political considerations and insensitive to local circumstances, are not the best guardians of the public good. Environmental problems require a diversity of solutions devised by those most affected. Good information and strong property rights give people both tools and incentives to use their resources sustainably.
This summer, we received a letter from an Australian lobster fisher. He had just met a Canadian fisher, who had given him a photocopy of an Environment Probe chapter from a book about the crisis in our Atlantic fisheries. Excited about our ideas, he invited us to speak at a conference of fishers, fisheries managers, and scientists from Australia and New Zealand.
The keynote address to the Tri-State Rock Lobster Industry Conference, held in Adelaide, Australia, on September 8, 1997. In it, Elizabeth Brubaker argues that governments should put control over fisheries into the hands of fishers. She examines the political pressures and bureaucratic structures that deprive government managers of the incentives and tools necessary to make sustainable decisions. She calls for systems of self-managed ownership that remove decisions about catches and habitat from the political arena.
How do fishermen behave? When holding clear rights, do they exploit fisheries recklessly or manage them sustainably? Can we trust them? Such questions are at the heart of the debate over the wisdom of establishing property rights in fish.
How do fishers behave? When holding clear rights, do they exploit fisheries recklessly or manage them sustainably? Can we trust them?
The current debate over West Coast salmon, focusing on who should catch how many fish, has obscured another threat to salmon: habitat destruction.
This paper, by Evadne Liuson, reviews the agencies and instruments regulating recreational, Aboriginal, and commercial fishing on the Canadian Great Lakes, with a focus on the Individual Transferable Quotas governing Ontario’s commercial fisheries. Continue reading
A chapter from Fish or Cut Bait! The Case for Individual Transferable Quotas in the Salmon Fishery of British Columbia, a collection of essays edited by Laura Jones and Michael Walker discussing tradeable fishing rights and their role in solving the West Coast salmon crisis. This chapter, by Elizabeth Brubaker, documents a century of mismanagement of the Pacific salmon fishery and analyses governments’ incentives to encourage the overfishing and pollution that threaten stocks. It examines alternative regimes that give fisheries owners both the reasons and the authority to conserve stocks and to protect the habitat on which they depend, and suggests that quotas are only the first step in the evolution of stronger property rights to protect and conserve fisheries.