Honest fishermen should be willing to contribute some of their increased rent to ensure the continued existence of an effective IFQ management regime.


In assessing the outcomes of these systems I focus on three major categories of effects. The first is implementation feasibility. A proposed policy regime cannot protect the common pool resource if it cannot be implemented or if its main protective mechanisms are so weakened by the implementation process that it is rendered ineffective. What matters is not how a policy regime works in principle, but how it works in practice. The second category seeks to answer the question “How much protection did it offer not only to the common-pool resource, but also other resources that might have been affected either positively or negatively by its implementation?” Finally, what were the economic effects on those who either directly or indirectly use the resource?

Implementation Feasibility

The record seems to indicate that resorting to a tradable permits approach to controlling resources usually only occurs after other, more familiar, approaches have been tried and failed. In essence the costs of implementing a system like this generally are recognized as large, so incurring such large costs can be justified only when the benefits have risen sufficiently to justify the transition (Libecap, 1990).

Most fisheries that have turned to these policies have done so only after a host of alternative input and output controls have failed to stem the pressure being placed on the resource. A similar story can be told for air pollution control. The offset policy, introduced in the United States for controlling air pollution, owes its birth to an inability of any other policy to reconcile the desire to allow economic growth with the desire to improve the quality of the air.

It is also clear that not every attempt to implement a tradable permit approach is successful. In air pollution control, attempts to establish a tradable permits approach have failed in Poland (Zylicz, 1999), Germany (Scharer, 1999), and the United Kingdom (Sorrell, 1999). Programs in water pollution control generally have not been very successful (Hahn and Hester, 1989).

On the other hand, it does appear that the introduction of new tradable permit programs becomes easier with familiarity. Following the very successful lead phaseout program, in the United States, new supporters appeared and made it possible to pass the sulfur allowance program.44

It also seems quite clear that, to date at least, using a grandfathering approach to the initial allocation has been a necessary ingredient in building the political support necessary to implement the approach.45 Existing users frequently have

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