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Coasean Approaches to Ending Overfishing: Bigeye Tuna Conservation in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean

Daniel Ovando, Gary D. Libecap, Katherine D. Millage, Lennon Thomas

NBER Working Paper No. 27801
Issued in September 2020
NBER Program(s):Development Economics, Environment and Energy Economics, Law and Economics, Public Economics

Bigeye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean were perceived as overfished for nearly 20 years, in large part due to incidental catch in the much larger skipjack tuna fishery. Efforts to halt the overfishing of bigeye stalled due to disagreements over the distribution of costs and benefits from reform. An alternative Coasean-style approach to setting both harvesting levels and the allocation of costs and benefits might offer a path forward. We calculate the costs and benefits of achieving bigeye conservation goals and describe an exchange through which benefits could be realized via removal of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs). Through trade, aggregate benefits and costs are more apt to be in balance relative to mandated protection controls. The realities of bargaining costs in a multilateral setting are not underappreciated, but in light of existing stalemates in this and other fisheries, consideration of Coasean-style approaches is warranted.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27801

 
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