The challenges of pro-poor fisheries reform

Small-scale artisanal fisheries account for an estimated 40 MMT of catch annually, employing approximately 40 million workers. The promise of rationalization, realized in developed countries, is that good management may generate significant rents. But an important issue for developing countries is: will the rents from rationalization accrue to the poor? I investigate connections between fisheries rationalization, income distribution, and poverty reduction drawing on a model from A.D. Scott (1957). Under open access, a fixed amount of labor is employed such that the value of marginal product (VMP) in agriculture is equal to the value of average product (VAP) in the fishery. Reform is then modeled with a dynamic optimization model, which identifies conditions that generate a high potential payoff to the poor. Whether potential payoffs are translated into actual gains to the poor depends upon political economy factors. I discuss the political economy barriers to pro-poor fisheries reform and potential institutions for sustaining rational fisheries use.

Keywords: Distribution, fisheries reform, institutions, political economy, pro-poor, poverty

Citation: Wilen, J. 2013 Marine Resource Economics 28:203-220.

The challenges of pro-poor fisheries reform

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