Gentrification of the Inshore Finfisheries

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


The inshore commercial finfisheries between Texas and Maine are in decline. This is documented by commercial landing data for stationary and mobile gear for all states, Texas to Maine (inclusive) for the years 1972 to 1988. The decline of the commercial hunting trade that began in the late 19th century is outlined to illustrate that despite a difference of 100 years, social, political and biological similarities accompanied the decline of commercial harvest of fin fish and game. The research examines the rise of the recreational fishing paradigm and its impact on the commercial fisheries vis-a-vis legislation and the organization of interest known as the recreation/conservation complex. The politics of group formation and maintenance are discussed to provide a theoretical framework to understand the motivation and role of the political entrepreneur in the public policy formation and implementation process. Differences in the degree of gentrification of the inshore finfisheries occur because of the dominance of the traditional commercial fisheries in the northeast and the increasing importance of sport fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and mid-Atlantic regions. The rise of recreational paradigm for wildlife occurred before the rise of the recreational paradigm for the fisheries because of differences in their rate of exploitation. The first two hundred years of the exploitation of the inshore fisheries was governed by management regimes that limited entry, capital and effort. Whereas the first two hundred years of the exploitation of the wildlife was governed by open-access and free-taking of resources that were considered common property. As societies have realized that their resources are diminishing their highest use becomes less-consumptive, giving rise to the recreational paradigm and the gentrification of the living natural resources.

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