Encumbering harvest rights to protect marine environments: a model of marine conservation easements

By Robert T. Deacon and Dominc P. Parker

Abstract

We adapt the concept of a conservation easement to a marine environment and explore its use to achieve conservation goals. Although marine environments generally are not owned, those who use them for commercial fishing often are regulated. These regulations grant harvesters rights to use marine environments in specified ways, and the possibility of encumbering these rights to achieve conservation goals creates a potential role for marine easements. We examine this potential under alternative fishery management regimes and find, generally, that marine easements tend to be most effective when harvest rights are delineated most fully. Our analysis suggests ways that marine easements can have flexibility and transactions cost advantages over other approaches to achieve marine conservation goals. We also propose ways in which the design of laws allowing marine easements should follow, or depart from, the design of laws authorising conservation easements on land.

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The Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics
Robert T. Deacon is Professor of Economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara and University Fellow at Resources for the Future. He has examined a broad range of topics in natural resource economics and political economy. His recent work focuses on the use of alternative property rights institutions to manage fisheries. Deacon...
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Dominic Parker is a Senior Research Fellow at PERC and is an Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics at University of Wisconsin-Madison where he teaches courses in natural resource economics. His research examines how legal systems and government policies affect natural resource use, environmental outcomes, and economic...
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