Lipstick and catch shares in the Western Pacific: Beyond evangelism in fisheries policy?

Document Type


Date of Original Version



The push for catch shares is on in the United States, nationwide generally, and in the western Pacific specifically. The prevailing understanding of catch shares emphasizes individual private property rights and changes in fisher behavior are understood to result from changes in rights in accordance with a long-established canon in fisheries economics. It is argued that this orthodoxy misses the causal factor in catch shares and thus constricts the range of policy options for catch shares. Moreover, this standard understanding of catch shares fosters opposition. Opposition to catch shares in the western Pacific can be understood as a specific variant of a generic pattern of opposition that is often centered on concerns for distributional impacts. Blind to the fact that their own misunderstanding fuels opposition, proponents of privatization resort to explaining opposition in terms of a simple, but inaccurate, for-or-against-catch-shares dichotomy. Perpetuation of this dichotomy has become a tool in the promotion of one particular ideological conception of catch shares and is a disservice to the public policy process. A possible path forward in the context of the western Pacific is presented that is based on diminishing the role of outside policy experts while encouraging local design of programs to meet local goals. Such an approach is consistent with the nature of development as local people adopt and adapt outside influences on their own terms. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Marine Policy