, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 201-215
Date: 24 Apr 2006

An Overview of Fishing Rights

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Abstract

Coastal state management of marine harvests within 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones was a new and innovative process during the period from the late 1970s through the 1980s. The spread of conservation-focused harvest management was a key step in the evolution of fishing rights, followed in some nations by a second step of creating more exclusive, individual or group fishing rights. The three main forms of more exclusive fishing rights – limited entry permits, individual fishing quotas (IFQs), and local community-based or co-operative harvesting – vary widely in content and detail. But, when successful, they all increase the economic efficiency of fisheries, and they reshape the economic and political landscape of fisheries. All three types, but particularly IFQs, may initiate radical changes in the economic organization of the fishery, ultimately changing who fishes, where and when they fish, the products sold, the balance of power among industry sectors, incentives to support conservation, the size of incomes from fishing, and the location of shore-side economic activity. Changes of this sort are bound to provoke controversy. The controversies over fishing rights take three forms: disagreements over the meaning and intent of fishing rights, disputes over the distribution of rights and associated economic gain, and concern for disruptions imposed on people who are dependent on the “old order”. This paper provides a short review of the underlying concepts, rights systems, and current controversies concerning fishing rights.