Fencing the Fishery

A Primer for Ending The Race for Fish

Saturday, June 1, 2002

A Summary

"Most U.S. fisheries' stocks are facing disaster," says Zeke Grader, Jr., of Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. Since 1999, seven species of groundfish off Washington, Oregon, and northern California have been declared overfished by the National Marine Fisheries Service. So have several crab stocks off Alaska's Bering Sea.

Decades of governmental intervention to protect fisheries along the U.S. coast and throughout the world have failed. Hundreds of coastal fisheries are suffering from overexploitation and the destructive "race for fish." Sophisticated vessels and equipment combat one another to grab an ever-dwindling number of fish.

The good news is that there is a way to help these and other fishers in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska overcome such problems. In this guide, Fencing the Fishery, Donald R. Leal shows how rights-based fishing policies, including individual transferable quotas, territorial rights and private harvesting agreements can reduce the costly and destructive race to fish. Leal offers an overview of this newly emerging approach to commercial fishing.

The author, Donald R. Leal, is a Senior Associate of PERC and a widely respected policy analyst. Leal has been a pioneer in reevaluating resource management policies, including the role of private property rights and the incentives facing government managers.

Copies of Fencing the Fishery are available from PERC, while supplies last, for $5 each and can also be downloaded from this Web site as a PDF.

Leal's research on natural resources and environmental issues spans nearly 20 years. His current focus is on preventing over-harvesting of marine resources and restoring ocean fisheries.Leal is working to build support for individual fishing quotas (IFQs) and fishing cooperatives as more effective alternatives to the current regulatory approach to...
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