Time Discounting Behaviour of Small-Scale Fishers in Open Access and Traditionally Managed Reef Fisheries Public Deposited

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  • Fisheries economics theory suggests that weak fishery management institutions, such as an open access regime, provide the motivation for fishers to act as if they have infinite discount rates. This theory has serious implications for the management of small-scale reef based fisheries in developing countries, many of which are open access and in a state of Malthusian overfishing. Yet, there has been limited if any empirical study to investigate this crucial assumption. To address this, we examine 1) whether small-scale fishers in an open-access fishery have infinite discount rates; and 2) the role local fishery institutions play in the formation of fishers discount rates. To do this, we elicit fishers discount rates in two overexploited, small-scale reef fisheries that are under different institutional environments: fishers in Sabah operate under an open access regime, while Fijian fishing grounds are governed under customary marine tenure. We find that fishers in both locations have high annual discount rates that are on average over 200%. Compared to Fiji, a larger proportion of fishers in Sabah chose an infinite discount rate. At the same time, within Sabah, a larger proportion of fishers had lower relative discount rates. Our results suggest that fishers under both open access and customary management arrangements are prone to high discount rates; thus, providing property rights to fishers or fishing communities may not be a fail-proof solution to encouraging sustainable fishery use. Importantly, social capacity to self-organise and create and enforce rules to govern fishery resource use may be an underlying factor contributing to lower discount rates, even in an open access fishery, where there are no formal management regulations in place.
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  • Teh, Louise and Rashid Sumaila. 2010. Time Discounting Behaviour of Small-Scale Fishers in Open Access and Traditionally Managed Reef Fisheries. In: Proceedings of the Fifteenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade, July 13-16, 2010, Montpellier, France: Economics of Fish Resources and Aquatic Ecosystems: Balancing Uses, Balancing Costs. Compiled by Ann L. Shriver. International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade, Corvallis, Oregon, USA, 2010.
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