ECON 330 Tragedy of the Commons

ECON 330 Tragedy of the Commons

ECON 330 Tragedy of the Commons

Open access fishing can cause myriad issues, both economically and environmentally. Overfishing leads to the depletion of fish stocks, which reduces livelihoods for fishermen as well as overall economic benefit provided by the fishing industry (Wade et al., 2019). Additionally, overfishing can interfere with the environment by severely disrupting marine ecosystems and food chains.

To combat these effects, a combination of policies must be implemented in order to achieve balance between human activity and sustainability. Catch quotas can be implemented as a way to allocate yearly amounts of each species that can be fished successfully; additionally, marine protected areas designate sections of various waters as off-limits to fishing activities can be developed (Bradley et al., 2019). Further along those same lines, gear restrictions can be used to reduce the number of incidental catches or by-catch and prevent damage to habitats. Lastly, implementing license and permit systems ensures that only legitimate parties are able to participate in the fisheries; this mitigates some of the burden caused by open access fisheries.

Government policies designed to assist fishermen can have unintended consequences. Subsidies in particular are a common example, as they can incentivize fleets to grow excessively, thereby over-exploiting already dwindling fish stocks (Funge‐Smith & Bennett, 2019). What’s more, when these policies fail to tackle the underlying causes of overfishing – such as the weak enforcement of fishing regulations – the situation is only exacerbated. It is thus important for governments to pay close attention to how their policies could potentially affect fisheries and fish stocks, in order to ensure that their interventions are effective at not only protecting current populations, but also encouraging a healthy replenishment of resources.

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From the assignment, I have learned that open access fishing, an unrestricted type of commercial fishing, has been

ECON 330 Tragedy of the Commons
ECON 330 Tragedy of the Commons

linked to overfishing, a significant problem causing depletion of fish stocks. This results in a Tragedy of the Commons scenario where individuals acting independently and in their own self-interest can detrimentally affect a shared resource. Economically, this creates market inefficiency as a reduced supply creates an increase in price. Environmentally, the consequences are more severe as damage to habitats and biodiversity resulting from overfishing can become long term and difficult to remedy (Link, 2021). In the workplace or in everyday life, I could apply this knowledge by advocating for sustainable fishing practices and supporting policies that regulate fishing to prevent overfishing and protect the marine environment.

References

Bradley, D., Merrifield, M., Miller, K. M., Lomonico, S., Wilson, J. R., & Gleason, M. G. (2019). Opportunities to improve fisheries management through innovative technology and advanced data systems. Fish and Fisheries20(3), 564-583. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/faf.12361

Funge‐Smith, S., & Bennett, A. (2019). A fresh look at inland fisheries and their role in food security and livelihoods. Fish and Fisheries20(6), 1176-1195. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/faf.12403

Link, J. S. (2021). Evidence of ecosystem overfishing in US large marine ecosystems. ICES Journal of Marine Science78(9), 3176-3201. https://academic.oup.com/icesjms/article/78/9/3176/6381244

Wade, E., Spalding, A. K., & Biedenweg, K. (2019). Integrating property rights into fisheries management: the case of Belize’s journey to managed access. Marine Policy108, 103631. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308597X18304858