The Privatization of the Oceans
Rich with detail and provocatively argued, this study of the development of property rights in the world's fisheries tells the story of one industry's evolution and provides a useful illustration of the forces that shape economic institutions. The emergence of exclusive individual rights of access in the fishing industry began after the revolution in the international law of the sea that took place in the 1970s, when the offshore area controlled by a nation for fish and other resources expanded from 3 miles to 200 miles. Rögnvaldur Hannesson compares the subsequent development of private property rights in the fisheries to the historic enclosures and clearances of common land in England and Scotland and finds many parallels, including bitter fights over access rights and the impossibility of accommodating all those who want to stake a claim. Overall benefit to society in the form of increased efficiency, he points out, does not mean that all benefit equally. After tracing the development of the law of the sea since the sixteenth century, Hannesson considers what form property rights in fisheries might take and examines the forces behind the establishment of exclusive use rights to fish. He argues that one form of exclusive use rights, individual transferable quotas (ITQs), best promotes efficiency in the use of fish resources. He presents case studies of ITQ development, ranging from successful establishment in Canada and New Zealand to failures in Chile and Norway to experiments with ITQs in Iceland and the United States. The development of economic institutions, he concludes, is an evolutionary process subject to contradictory influences.
About the Author
Rögnvaldur Hannesson is Professor of Fisheries Economics at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration and Research Director at the Center for Fisheries Economics in Bergen, Norway.
"[Hannesson’s] clear, incisive analysis of various access and utilization schemes undertaken across the world deserves the engagement of all academics and practitioners preoccupied with the sustainability of fisheries." —Times Higher Education Supplement
"The Privatization of the Oceans is a fascinating look into the early development of ITQs around the world and a great starting point for anyone interested in learning more about the evolution of private property rights in fisheries." , Stephanie Showalter, The SandBar
"[Hannesson’s] clear, incisive analysis of various access and utilization schemes undertaken across the world deserves the engagement of all academics and practitioners preoccupied with the sustainability of fisheries." Times Higher Education Supplement
"Hannesson has taken an extremely complex subject and written an honest book that can be read by almost anyone with an interest in oceans and the environment. He provides the institutional background, economic theory, and several nations' experiences necessary to clearly understand the causes of success and failure in the world's fisheries."
—Daniel Georgianna, Chancellor Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
"Should anyone own the oceans' fish? The Privatization of the Oceans tackles this controversial question in a lucid exposition of the history, politics, and economics of fisheries. With insight and wit, R
"Drawing on history, economics, and legislative and institutional processes, Hannesson provides a lucid, sometimes provocative, but always stimulating account of the development and implementation of property rights in fisheries. He begins with the English enclosures and ends with a description and evaluation of current systems around the world."
—Lee G. Anderson, Professor, University of Delaware