Individual transferable quotas and the “tragedy of the commons”

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Abstract:

The allocation of individual transferable quotas (ITQs) as shares of a total allowable catch (TAC) is now widely practised in fisheries management, but is not without controversy. It is often suggested that the possession of ITQs should provide an incentive for fishers to exercise stewardship of the resource. Quota holders acting in their economic self-interest should collectively exercise stewardship, setting TACs and supporting enforcement measures to maximize the present value of future profit streams. But it is in the economic self-interest of an individual fisher possessing ITQ to take additional unreported catch, through discarding, high-grading, or quota-busting. Thus, ITQs in themselves will not prevent a “tragedy of the commons”, unless there is sufficient compliance monitoring and enforcement to deter hidden catches. ITQs, with adequate enforcement, have been demonstrated to effectively address the race to fish and result in improved sustainability and profitability. There are questions of equity concerning the flow of benefits from the allocations of quotas and associated profit streams and who pays for the management costs required to sustain them. There are also issues around the ability of ITQ-based management to address other social and environmental objectives.

L'allocation de quotas individuels transférables (QIT) comme parts du total autorisé des captures (TAC) est communément utilisée dans la gestion des pêches, mais elle n'est pas sans soulever des controverses. On indique souvent que la possession d'un QIT devrait inciter les pêcheurs à exercer une responsabilité de gérance de la ressource. Les possesseurs de quotas agissant pour leurs intérêt personnel devraient exercer collectivement la gérance, en déterminant les TAC et en appuyant les mesures d'application des règlements afin de maximiser la valeur actuelle des perspectives futures de profit. Mais c'est dans l'intérêt économique personnel du pêcheur individuel qui possède un QIT de faire des récoltes additionnelles non signalées, en faisant des rejets, en écrémant les captures ou en dépassant les quotas. Ainsi, les QIT en eux-mêmes n'empêchent pas l'arrivée d'une «tragédie des richesses communes» à moins qu'il n'y ait suffisamment de surveillance du respect des règlements et de leur application pour décourager les prises cachées. On a montré que les QIT, avec une application adéquate, peuvent gérer de façon efficace la course à la pêche et améliorer la durabilité et la profitabilité. Il y a des problèmes d'équité concernant le flux des bénéfices provenant de l'allocation des quotas et des lignes de profit associées et au sujet de qui doit payer les coûts de gestion nécessaires pour les maintenir. Il y a aussi des questions à propos de la capacité d'une gestion basée sur les QIT à atteindre d'autres objectifs sociaux et environnementaux.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2010

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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