Can Catch Shares Prevent Fisheries Collapse?

Christopher Costello, Steven D. Gaines, John Lynham

Science, September 19, 2008

Recent reports suggest that most of the world’s commercial fisheries could be collapsed within
decades. Although poor fisheries governance is often implicated, evaluation of solutions remains
rare. Bioeconomic theory and case studies suggest that rights-based catch shares can provide
individual incentives for sustainable harvest that is less prone to collapse. To test whether
catch-share fishery reforms achieve these hypothetical benefits, we have compiled a global
database of fisheries institutions and catch statistics in 11,135 fisheries from 1950 to 2003.
Implementation of catch shares halts, and even reverses, the global trend toward widespread
collapse. Institutional change has the potential for greatly altering the future of global fisheries.


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Costello, et al. (2008) - Living Catch Share Database.

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