Economic Incentives and Global Fisheries Sustainability
Sarah E. Lester and
Steven D. Gaines ()
Additional contact information Steven D. Gaines: Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106
Widespread global collapses of fisheries corroborate decades-old predictions by economists, made long before large-scale industrialization of the world's fisheries, that open access would have deleterious ecological and economic effects on fishery resources. Incentive-based alternatives (collectively called catch shares) have been shown to generate pecuniary benefits, but little empirical evidence exists for, or against, a link to global fisheries sustainability. We report and expand on an analysis of >11,000 fisheries worldwide, in which we investigated the causes of fisheries collapse from 1950 to 2003. Using a program evaluation design, we found that catch shares prevent and, in some specifications, reverse fisheries collapse. Subsequent scientific studies reinforce and challenge these findings, suggesting fruitful avenues for future research linking incentive-based resource management to sustainability.