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The Evolution of Resource Property Rights$
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Anthony Scott

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780198286035

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198286035.001.0001

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Rights over Fisheries and Fish

Rights over Fisheries and Fish

Chapter:
(p.127) 4 Rights over Fisheries and Fish
Source:
The Evolution of Resource Property Rights
Author(s):

Anthony Scott

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198286035.003.0004

This chapter follows fishing rights from primitive monopolies to rights granted over medieval sea-fisheries to fishery regulation to property-like licensing. Most medieval rights were for fresh-water fisheries in the ‘common of fishery’ a manorial sharing arrangement similar to those for the common fields. However salt-water private rights, mostly for tidal stretches of rivers or for shellfish, were abolished in the Magna Carta, to be succeeded by the English ‘public right of fishing’ in tidal waters. The chapter argues that there was neither a demand nor a supply of the exclusivity characteristic for creating a private sea-fishing property right. In the nineteenth century when powerful vessels began depleting ocean stocks, the ‘over-fishing problem’ was recognized and attracted government fishing rules and laws internationally. Such regulation began to include requirements for licenses, which were later limited in number, season, species, gear-types, and area. Thus they were given some enforced exclusivity. Their duration and transferability were also adjusted. The chapter recounts how governments transformed these limited licenses into individual catch quotas (ITQs), first in Iceland and New Zealand then worldwide. It examines fishermen-run fishing co-operatives and ‘TURFS’ for many-vessel and many-species fisheries. It notes their similarity to condominium-type shared rights.

Keywords:   condos, gear regulation, license limitation, Magna Carta, multiple species, ocean over-fishing, public right, species regulation, TURFS, transferability

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