James M. Acheson

James M. Acheson
University of Maine | UM · Department of Anthropology

PhD

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105
Publications
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Publications

Publications (105)
Chapter
The theory of common property resources traces the overexploitation of natural resources to the absence of ownership rights. Garrett Hardin argues such resources can be managed, if at all, by autocratic government because individuals or local communities cannot cooperate to manage them. In recent decades the theory has undergone substantial elabora...
Article
To avoid confusion about common property, it is important to distinguish between common‐pool goods and the governance regimes that manage those goods (e.g., private property, government, local rules). Classic theory regards a “commons” as inefficient and subject to extreme overexploitation. Yet many common‐pool resources can be well managed at the...
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Fish and other marine resources have long provided a substantial portion of the food consumed by humans. Fishing societies have developed a number of institutions to reduce the risks of fishing. Today a high percentage of stocks are overfished. Anthropologists have described a number of cases where stocks have been well managed at the local level....
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In fisheries management—as in environmental governance more generally—regulatory arrangements that are thought to be helpful in some contexts frequently become panaceas or, in other words, simple formulaic policy prescriptions believed to solve a given problem in a wide range of contexts, regardless of their actual consequences. When this happens,...
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Relatively little is known about how resource conservation practices and institutions emerge. We examine the historical emergence of territoriality and conservation rules in Maine’s lobstering industry, using a cultural evolutionary perspective. Cultural evolution suggests that cultural adaptations such as practices and institutions arise as a resu...
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In this article, we explore the social, cultural, and political factors promoting and impeding development of offshore wind power in Maine, using the perspective of rational choice theory. Offshore floating wind platforms involve a new technology still in the experimental stage. Developing offshore wind power will require having very large scale or...
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Individual transferable quotas (ITQs) have become a popular management tool for fisheries. They have been promoted in some quarters and seriously criticized in others because of their social and economic impacts. A more serious problem is that ITQs provide exclusive access to public resources presumably in return for some public benefit, namely con...
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Atlantic Cod Gadus morhua has been subject to commercial exploitation since the thirteenth century. An analysis of cod fisheries over space and time reveals a pattern of serial depletion that reflects the cross-scale interaction of fish population structure, economic incentives, developments in fishing technology, and government efforts to limit ac...
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In the literature on property rights, there is general consensus framed by people such as Boserup and Demsetz that common property regimes will change to private property regimes when resources are scarce and population increases. This is mostly correct where land tenure is concerned. However, there are many cases where common property regimes cont...
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This article examines the reasons management of the New England groundfishery has failed, while management of the Maine lobster industry has succeeded. After 35 years of management, groundfish stock sizes and catches are lower than ever while lobster stocks are at record high levels. We argue that the New England groundfishing industry is caught in...
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One of the most promising mechanisms to conserve fish stocks is co-management, a type of ICCA (Indigenous Peoples' and Community Conserved Territories and Area), in which responsibilities are shared by resource users and the government. In Maine, the lobster co-management system, established in 1995, divides the coast into seven zones. It permits l...
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The core idea of evolution is that order in living systems emerges from a simple process of variation and selection. In biological systems we usually understand the source of variation as best described by the mechanisms of genetics. If human social systems are evolutionary systems, however, it would seem the variation that most explains the source...
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Given the likelihood of the development of offshore wind farms in Maine and the increasingly politicized nature of discussions about wind power in general, there is a need for more systematic information on Mainers’ opinions about offshore wind power. In this article, James Acheson provides information on the range of public opinion about offshore...
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Elinor Ostrom has devoted much of her career to understanding the conditions under which people have incentives to conserve or over-exploit commonpool resources (e.g. oceans, air, irrigation, unowned forests and grassland). While a growing number of anthropologists have taken an interest in this critically important topic, her work is not well know...
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The Maine lobster industry is experiencing record high catches because, in all probability, of an effective management program. One of the most important conservation measures is the V-notch program that allows fishermen to conserve proven breeding females by notching the tails of egg-bearing lobsters. Such marked lobsters may never be taken. Altho...
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Almost seventy percent of the world's marine fisheries are overexploited or endangered. One of those is the New England groundfishery, once one of the most prolific fisheries in the world. Although it has been under scientific manage-ment for decades, stock sizes and catches are lower now than when management began. This article explores the reason...
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Pam Puntenney is contributing editor of “Views on Policy,” the AAA Committee on Public Policy column in Anthropology News.Keywords:ecology and environment,natural resource management,public policy
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One of the most important questions facing resource management is how to regulate industries exploiting natural resources. Currently there is an effort in the Maine lobster industry to get lower trap limits, which provides an opportunity to get detailed information on the political factors influencing legislation in an important and highly successf...
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Natural resources of all kinds have been overexploited by user groups who cannot or will not develop rules to constrain their own exploitive efforts. One notable exception is the Maine lobster industry, where an effective set of conservation laws has been developed due, in great part, to the strong support of the industry. In the early decades of t...
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Deforestation is taking place in many parts of the world, and forests are being cut at an unsustainable rate. In some areas, forests are being completely destroyed and the land converted to other uses such as industry and agriculture. In areas where forests remain, their aggregate value has been decreasing. Moreover, the species composition of many...
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In the burgeoning literature on property rights, relatively little analysis has been done on the relation between property rights regimes (i.e., individual property, state property, clan property), and the types of goods that are produced. In Maine [U.S.A.], the decisions of landowners are strongly influenced by government regulation which creates...
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Most of the world's marine fisheries are overexploited or endangered, including the Gulf of Maine groundfish fishery, once one of the world's most prolific. After 35 years of management, groundfish stock sizes and catches are lower than when management began. We argue that in New England, the groundfishing industry is caught in a prisoner's dilemma...
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In Cuanajo, Michoacan, Mexico, where the local furniture industry has undergone substantial expansion, households vary widely in size, financial practices, and levels of economic success. Households use three different kinds of funds: General, Personal, and Obligated Funds. Each has different characteristics. Households of different sizes and level...
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This article describes the differential response to new economic opportunities in Cuanajo, a Tarascan Indian community in Michoacán, Mexico. It is argued here that blocks to development are primarily economic in nature, not cultural or cognitive (e.g., “limited good”) as has been asserted by others working in the area. When real opportunities becam...
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In the burgeoning literature on property rights, relatively little analysis has been done on the relation between property rights regimes (i.e., individual property, state property, clan property), and the types of goods that are produced. In Maine [U.S.A.], the decisions of landowners are strongly influenced by government regulation which creates...
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Large areas of the world’s forests are being converted to non-forest use. Th is article examines factors infl uencing decisions of small forest landowners in Maine to convert or sell their land. Our analysis is based on a large-scale survey of a random sample drawn from the membership lists of organizations of forest landowners in 2005. Maine lando...
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Many of the world’s forests are being destroyed at a rapid rate. This article analyzes the decisions of landowners in Maine, where forests have been heavily harvested and much land has been converted to non-forest use. Data on these landowners and their land were obtained from primary and secondary sources, satellite change detection analysis, and...
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Deforestation is a serious problem in many parts of the world. Recently, deforestation is being reversed in some areas, a process called the "forest transition," This article describes the historic changes occurring in Maine's forests, and discusses the implications of those changes. Large scale deforestation occurred as land was cleared for agricu...
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Many of the world's natural resources are in a state of crisis. The solution to this crisis is to develop effective management institutions, but there is no consensus on what those institutions are. Some economists favor solving resource-management problems through the institution of private property; others advocate central government control; and...
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In this article, we use game theory to understand the emergence of various kinds of territorial arrangements in the Maine lobster fishery during the past century. Using the Nash equilibria of models of the fishery as our theoretical framework, we show that informal territorial arrangements in this fishery went through three sequential stages. These...
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Many of the world's most important fisheries are in a state of crisis. The Maine lobster industry is one of the very few exceptions, with catches at an all time high. Much of the success of this fishery stems from effective conservation legislation, passed largely through the long-term lobbying activities of powerful factions within the industry it...
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In Maine, people have long used private land for recreation. James Acheson points out that this “open land” tradition—unique in the nation—has huge economic implications, especially for the state’s tourism industry. In recent years, there has been a substantial increase in land posting, largely in response to abuses by the public. Although a number...
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Although territoriality of one kind or another is found in every society, our understanding of the way territorial systems come into being remains undeveloped. In this article, we use game theory to understand the evolution of institutional arrangements in the Maine lobster fishery. Nash equilibrium of models explains the three stages observed in t...
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"In fisheries management circles, there is growing realization that traditional ways of managing marine resources are not working and that new approaches to management need to be tried. One of the most promising of these new approaches is co-management, where authority for managing fish stocks is shared between the industry and government agencies....
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The primary contribution of the group of anthropologists studying fishing has been to produce a body of literature and set of concepts on the way people have solved the problems posed by earning a living in an uncertain and risky environment. Fishing poses some very unusual constraints and problems; marine adaptations are among the most extreme ach...
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"The 21st century is opening on the specter of worldwide environmental disaster caused by human beings. Stocks of fish, forests, grasslands, agricultural land, wildlife, air quality and water quality have all been seriously degraded either by overexploitation, or pollution or a combination of the two. Marine fisheries are in particularly poor condi...
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The difference between the highly successful Maine lobster industry and the crisis-ridden New England ground fishery is that the lobster industry has been able to organize politically to get legislation to solve a number of communal action dilemmas. The groundfishery has not been able to do so. What has made the difference is the lobster industry's...
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In fisheries management circles, there is growing interest in comanagement in which authority for managing fish stocks is shared between government agencies and the fishing industry. This article discusses the implementation of the new comanagement system in the Maine lobster industry, which was initiated in 1995. The law has clearly been successfu...
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The behavior of fishermen is often far more complicated than assumed by fisheries managers. Those concerned with the Maine lobster (i.e., American lobster Homarus americanus, hereafter "lobster") fishery have long favored a cap on the number of traps each license holder can use. Fishermen favor trap limits primarily to cut costs and limit congestio...
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In fisheries management circles, there is growing interest in comanagement in which authority for managing fish stocks is shared between government agencies and the fishing industry. This article discusses the implementation of the new comanagement system in the Maine lobster industry, which was initiated in 1995. The law has clearly been successfu...
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Full-text available
"In fisheries management circles, there is growing realization that traditional ways of managing marine resources are not working and that new approaches to management need to be tried. One of the most promising of these new approaches is co-management, where authority for managing fish stocks is shared between the industry and government agencies....
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One of the basic tenets of the theory of common property resources is that private property rights work to conserve natural resources. There is growing evidence, however, that some large forest owners in Maine are cutting their forests heavily, using poor-quality silviculture techniques. This overexploitation is being done by paper companies, fores...
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Currently, one of the most important issues in resource management is: under what conditions will people conserve the resources on which their livelihood depends? In all too many cases, overexploitation is the rule. All around the world fish stocks, forests, grasslands, air, soils, wildlife, and water quality have been seriously degraded by human b...
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From pp. 1-3: "Over the course of the past thirty years a consensus has begun to emerge that management of resources is basically an institutional problem. If we get the right rules and governance structures, natural resources will be used wisely and conservation goals will be met. However, there is no agreement as to what institutions will accompl...
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"The Maine lobster fishery has been highly territorial for a number of decades. To go lobstering at all, people need to get a license from the state of Maine. They also need to gain admission to the groups fishing from a particular harbor, and once they have been admitted to such a group, they can only go fishing in the traditional territory of tha...
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Most major fisheries of the world are becoming depleted, largely by human over-exploitation. The basic problem is that fishers cannot or will not generate rules to conserve the resources upon which their livelihood depends. They are unable to solve this communal action dilemma although all would gain. Some fisher groups have been able to establish...
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The Maine industry for American lobster Homarus americanus has gone from a period of very low catches in the 1920s and 1930s (“the bust”) to a period of “boom” marked by record high catches in the 1990s. Fishers and biologists working for state and federal agencies emphasize different variables in explaining the bust and the boom. What they see as...
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Marine fisheries are in a state of crisis. One of the few successfully managed fisheries is the Maine lobster industry where catches are at an all time high. An important factor in this success is the effectiveness of regulations which were developed during three periods over the course of the past 125 years. In all cases, the regulations are the r...
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ABSTRACTSThe current crisis in the world's fisheries indicates the need for a different management method than that now used by Western scientists, which regulates the quantity of fish taken. The authors propose a method called parametric management, which takes into account the complex, chaotic nature offish stocks and emphasizes preserving regula...
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A number of people provided helpful comments and suggestions during the preparation of this reply. None of them, of course, bear responsibility for any mistakes or conclusions drawn here. They were: Michael Fogarty, Lloyd Dickie, David Feeney, Spencer Apollonio, Ted Ames, Robin Alden, Richard Langton, Peter Auster, Stephanie Watson, and Raymond O'C...
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Over the last three decades, the demand for fish in the Amazon basin has greatly increased due to population growth in the main cities of the region. While technological improvements in commercial fishing methods have made it possible to meet this growing demand, they have led to concerns about the possible extinction of certain fish species and to...
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The authors take up the hypothesis originally proposed by Garrett Hardin that resources held in common, such as oceans, rivers, air, and parklands, are bound to be subject to massive degradation. Specifically, they "examine the accumulated evidence pertaining to common-property resource management and provide a critique of the conventional theory e...
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Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons model predicts the eventual overexploitation or degradation of all resources used in common. Given this unambiguous prediction, a surprising number of cases exist in which users have been able to restrict access to the resource and establish rules among themselves for its sustainable use. To assess the evidence, we f...
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"The highland indian communities of Meso-America have a long history of communally owned property, which has been managed locally for centuries. In this paper, I would like to give a history of the institutions of communally owned forest and grazing lands as they have existed in communities of the Purepeche speaking area of Central Mexico and speci...
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Conventional wisdom holds that resources held in common will invariably be overexploited - the "tragedy of the commons". A number of examples show that this is not necessarily so.
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The Maine lobster industry reinforces some parts of the theory of common-property resources and calls into question others. The data on the biological and economic effects of territoriality certainly reinforce the idea that property rights do help conserve resources. Further, the case study calls into question one of the central axioms underlying t...
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This collection of eighteen original essays evaluates the use and misuse of common-property resources, taking as its starting point ecologist Garret Hardin's assertion in "The Tragedy of the Commons" that common property is doomed to overexploitation in any society. This book represents the first cross-cultural test of Hardin's argument and argues...
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The U.S. Fisheries Conservation and Management Act was designed to control the exploitation of commercial marine species. However, during the first two years after this act went into effect in New England in 1977, the overall economic and regulatory environment sent fishermen a mixed set of signals. Some factors, including aspects of regulation, st...
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This paper examines the factors limiting the size and degree of specialization of furniture producing firms in Cuanajo, Michoacan, Mexico, where rapid modernization and mechanization of the furniture industry has resulted in a proliferation of small unspecialized firms rather than the growth of either a few large firms or small, highly specialized...
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Studies of the diffusion of innovations have produced very inconsistent results. Downs and Mohr state that the problem lies in the way innovation is conceived and argue that the diffusion of innovations can only be understood by considering the match, or compatability, between the innovations and their potential adopters, and not by studying the in...
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The Northeast Marine Fisheries Board recently completed a comprehensive management plan for American lobster Homarus americanus, the most important provision of which is to raise the legal minimum size of lobsters from 81 to 88.9 mm carapace length incrementally over 5 years. Its objective is to increase egg production and recruitment, and thus red...
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The Northeast Marine Fisheries Board recently completed a comprehensive management plan for American lobster Homarus americanas, the most important provision of which is to raise the legal minimum size of lobsters from 81 to 88.9 mm carapace length incrementally over 5 years. Its objective is to increase egg production and recruitment, and thus red...
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Full-text available
Management of marine fisheries by “limited entry legislation” promises not only to protect the breeding stock and increase catches, but also to improve economic efficiency and increase returns to fishermen. It will also undoubtedly disrupt existing social and economic relationships. While no limited entry legislation is in effect in New England, fi...
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Management of marine fisheries by "limited entry legislation" promises not only to protect the breeding stock and increase catches,but also to improve economic efficiency and increase returns to fishermen. It will also undoubtedly disrupt existing social and economic relationships. While no limited entry legislation is in effect in New England, fis...
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This volume is the third in a three volume series of reports submitted to the National Science Foundation for a project entitled "University of Rhode Island, University of Maine Study of Social and Cultural Aspects of Fisheries Management Under Extended Jurisdiction" (N.S.F. Grant Number AER77-060l8). This project was funded through the RANN Direct...
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This volume provides baseline data on the fishing communities and fisheries of New England, information on key values and social institutions, and a model for applying social science information to problems of fisheries management. Articles presented on institutions and values range from discussions of occupational commitment and types of fishermen...
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Social and cultural aspects of fisheries management were examined to establish basic data on the fishing communities and fisheries of southern New England. Five small ports were selected for study--Newport, Chatham, and Westport, Massachusetts; Newport, Rhode Island; and Stonington, Connecticut. These ports differ in terms of local, social, and geo...
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This volume is part of a final report on social science aspects of fisheries management in New England and is divided into three sections. In Section I, general background information is given concerning aspects of the fisheries in northern New England. Included is a history of fishing in the area, general information on the coastal environment and...
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Fisheries management agencies have traditionally promoted regulations with the resource in mind. All too often, the regulations proposed have conflicted so strongly with basic social and cultural features of fishing communities that they have been massively resisted. Here, it is argued that opposition to fisheries regulations will be minimized if s...
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Lobstermen from each community along the coast of central Maine claim inshore fishing rights in particular areas. Although their claims are unrecognized by the state, they are well established and backed by surreptitious violence. Two kinds of lobstering territories exist, here termed nucleated and perimeterdefended, which differ essentially in the...
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One factor influencing business decisions in Cuanajo, Michoacán is the native system of accounts. While accounting systems influence many areas of business decision making, their impact can be most readily seen in analyzing business entry choices. The degree to which accounting systems influence perceptions of opportunities is demonstrated by compa...
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"The rules for lobster fishing territories are especially critical because they control access to the lobsters and because they have important ecological implications at a time when some parts of the marine resource are being over exploited. "Growing up in an inland area of Maine, I was for a long time vaguely aware that territoriality existed amon...
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Peer Reviewed http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/44493/1/10745_2005_Article_BF01557918.pdf
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In fisheries management circles, there is growing realization that traditional ways of managing marine resources are not working and that new approaches to management need to be tried. One of the most promising of these new approaches is co-management, where authority for managing fish stocks is shared between the industry and government agencies....

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