Monday, November 30, 2009

Fisheries Management in Chile

Two chapters about Chilean fisheries management from this recent book are quite interesting. In them Castilla et. al discuss the implementation of a fisheries management policy that encouraged the development of what basically amounted to mini community run EEZs all along Chile's coast. Within these management zones local fisher community committees, formed under government guidance, were given the right to regulate access. Although great regional variation existed, generally this process was thought to work fairly well from a governance and sustainability perspective.
It also put some artisanal fishers out of jobs or forced them to move to unregulated fishing grounds.
This is not a bad thing. Modern fisheries simply require fewer fishers. Wishing back those jobs is as futile as Pittsburgh wishing back its steel industry.
What I like about the policy is that it seems to have been able to act as an effective transition mechanism. Shutting down fisheries suddenly and completely is rarely possible, ICCAT has proven that. However shifting management authority closer to the fishers, or at least some of them, looks like it might be an effective way of ultimately limiting fishing pressure in a management zone. The self-interest of those fishers with management control will encourage them to crowd out other fishers.
To put it crudely the managing fishers will do the government's dirty work for it. What government couldn't do for political reasons, fishers will do for economic ones.
Communal property rights ala Mrs. Ostrom.

The only problem left, which to their credit the two chapters acknowledge, is how to get those out of work fishers new jobs.