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Encumbering harvest rights to protect marine environments:

By Robert T. Deacon and Dominc P. Parker


We adapt the concept of a conservation easement to a marine environment and explore its use to achieve conservation goals. Although marine environments generally are not owned, those who use them for commercial fishing often are regulated. These regulations grant harvesters rights to use marine environments in specified ways, and the possibility of encumbering these rights to achieve conservation goals creates a potential role for marine easements. We examine this potential under alternative fishery management regimes and find, generally, that marine easements tend to be most effective when harvest rights are delineated most fully. Our analysis suggests ways that marine easements can have flexibility and transactions cost advantages over other approaches to achieve marine conservation goals. We also propose ways in which the design of laws allowing marine easements should follow, or depart from, the design of laws authorising conservation easements on land.

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