The concept of rents has a venerable history in economic theory. In his fundamental work on the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith defined the concept making it clear that rents were distinct from profits. Ricardo, building on the foundation laid by Adam Smith, similarly distinguished between profits and rents in his theory about land rents. In spite of this, in fisheries economics the word rents is often carelessly used as synonymous with profits. To further confound the issue, some authors refer to this concept of rents as resource rents apparently suggested that the fisheries profits are somehow generated by the resource.
This paper attempts to clarify these issues. It provides a definition of rents which makes theoretical sense and is in accordance with the traditional use of the term in economic theory. It then shows that there is no particular quantitative relation between rents and profits; rents may be larger, smaller or equal to profits. It further argues that while the the resource has an impact on the size of rents, many other factors also affect rents and there is no theoretical or quantitative basis for attributing part or the whole of rents to the resource.