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The Drama of the Commons
FIGURE 1-2 Relationships among fishing effort, cost, and revenue.
SOURCE: Townsend and Wilson (1987:317). Reprinted with permission.
NOTE: Total revenue, TR; total cost, TC; level of fishing effort; E; maximum economic yield, MEY; maximum sustainable yield; MSY; open access, OA. Profit is revenue minus cost and is represented by the vertical distance between the total revenue and total cost curves at any particular level of effort.
Gordon’s and Schaefer’s work emphasized the use of biological science and microeconomics in policy design. However, the science of fish population dynamics was not as well established as the Gordon-Schaefer model presumed. In particular, not all scientists accepted the underlying presumption of the “maximum sustainable yield” concept, that the stocks of adult fish and the regeneration rate in one time period depended only on the catching effort of the prior period. Gordon himself noted this. “Large broods, however, do not appear to depend on large numbers of adult spawners, and this lends support to the belief that the fish population is entirely unaffected by the activity of man” (Gordon, 1954:126). Wilson (Chapter 10) discusses why alternative views were ignored for so many years and argues that the quality of knowledge, scientific uncertainty, and the knowledge of nonscientists are important variables in common-pool resource management.
Many policy innovations of the 1960s and 1970s were based on the early