The experimental analysis of the political economics of fisheries governance

Samuel Mulenga Bwalya, University of Rhode Island


This dissertation combines the features of a regulated common pool resource (CPR) and the political institutions of lobbying to develop a formal model of fisheries governance; designs a laboratory fishery governance institution; and conducts economic experiments to test several hypotheses derived from the formal model. Specifically, the study analyzes how fishing firms invest in efforts to influence fishery regulations and management through lobbying. The study also analyses and compares cooperative behavior in voluntary contribution lobbying and the CPR environments. ^ Experimental results show contributions to change suboptimal fishery regulations that are significantly below subgame perfection. In addition, contributions to raise the cap are significantly higher than contributions to lower the cap toward the social optimum. Results also show that despite an interesting benefit-cost duality and prisoners' dilemma representation of public goods and a CPR, the pattern of cooperation in these two social dilemmas are significantly different. The overall level of cooperation both in lobbying and the CPR are also significantly lower than those reported in the literature. ^ To provide external validity to our experimental findings, we analyze lobbying expenditures in the fishery sector and other comparable natural resource industries in the U.S. We find that lobbying expenditures as a percentage of value added in the fishery sector is not significantly different from what we see in such other natural resource industries as the mining and utilities industries, but that the pattern of lobbying is different. While fishing firms lobby collectively by forming fishery lobby groups, firms in other natural resource industries lobby unilaterally. This suggests that differences in industrial structure, competition and incentives influence the lobbying behavior of firms in the energy and natural resources sectors in the U.S. ^ Theoretical predictions derived from the fishery governance model and experimental findings are generally consistent with the pattern of lobbying in the U.S. fisheries sector. These findings also suggest that heterogeneity drives rent-seeking in the fisheries sector and that fishing firms circumvent political collective action problems by forming associations or lobby groups of relatively homogenous firms. ^

Subject Area

Economics, Agricultural|Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture

Recommended Citation

Samuel Mulenga Bwalya, "The experimental analysis of the political economics of fisheries governance" (2005). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3188837.