The economics of territorial use rights fisheries, or turfs

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The most recent stage in the evolution of fisheries management institutions has been the adoption of so-called rights-based management schemes that grant secure rights of access to users so they are not forced to compete wastefully under open access conditions. The most common rights-based system is the individual transferable quota that grants fishermen rights to a share of a biologically determined total harvest. Another rights-based system is the harvester cooperative that grants access rights to a group. Unlike these species-based rights systems, territorial use rights fisheries, known as TURFs, are place-based, allocating some or all resources within a designated coastal zone to one or more agents. This article discusses the deficiencies of species-based systems and the advantages of place-based systems and reviews experience with TURFs in Japan and Chile. We argue that the success of TURFs depends not only on their physical design and placement, but also on the governing institutions that make internal resource use decisions. In most applications, TURFs are governed by harvester cooperatives that generate value by mitigating common property incentives and resolving internal coordination problems not otherwise addressed by species-based instruments. (JEL: Q2, Q22, Q28) © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. All rights reserved.

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Review of Environmental Economics and Policy