Economic analysis of fisheries management often relies on the assumption that some form of authority exists which will be able to take up the recommendations of economists, using adequate regulatory instruments. The discussion of management measures implicitly assumes that an external intervention will be possible - usually by the State - either to regulate directly resource use, or to allocate and enforce private use rights in order for decentralised co-ordination systems to operate efficiently. At first sight, economic models developed to explain fisheries over-exploitation leave little hope for self-regulation to emerge from a competitive fishery. The paper focuses on the analytical issues underlying the on-going debate on the possibility for fisheries to be self-regulated. Based on the analysis of a historical case study - the development of management arrangements between whaling firms in the 1930ies and 1950-60ies - it shows that the absence of a central authority cannot be systematically associated to an absence of regulation, and explores some of the implications this has for the economic analysis of fisheries management.
Thebaud, O. The Economics of Fisheries Self-regulation: Analytical Issues and a Historical Case Study. In: Microbehavior and Macroresults: Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade, July 10-14, 2000, Corvallis, Oregon, USA. Compiled by Richard S. Johnston and Ann L. Shriver. International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET), Corvallis, 2001.