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Self-Governance in the Commons - A study of social control in Swedish recreational lobster fisheries

Telemo, Vera LU (2015) MVEK02 20152
Studies in Environmental Science
Abstract
Most of the natural resources we rely on for our existence on this planet could in one way or another be a subject to overexploitation through tragedy of the commons. Tragedy of the commons occurs when rational individuals all acting in their own self-interest creates a situation that is suboptimal for everyone involved (Hardin, 1968). For long privatization or government control over a common were seen as the only two options to avoid this tragedy. Through empirical studies Elinor Ostrom described a third alternative based on local self-governance where individuals themselves managed to collaborate around a scarce resource and create long-term sustainability (Ostrom, 1999).
In this study the appropriateness of a self-governance system... (More)
Most of the natural resources we rely on for our existence on this planet could in one way or another be a subject to overexploitation through tragedy of the commons. Tragedy of the commons occurs when rational individuals all acting in their own self-interest creates a situation that is suboptimal for everyone involved (Hardin, 1968). For long privatization or government control over a common were seen as the only two options to avoid this tragedy. Through empirical studies Elinor Ostrom described a third alternative based on local self-governance where individuals themselves managed to collaborate around a scarce resource and create long-term sustainability (Ostrom, 1999).
In this study the appropriateness of a self-governance system in small coastal societies and in the city of Gothenburg was assessed through a case study of recreational lobster fishers. Further on some factors to get acceptance for regulations in a common were highlighted. One of these factors was the development of social norms regarding regulations in lobster fishing. The norm development seemed to have followed a perceived crisis in the fishery. This visible decline of the stock made the fishers realize the importance of the regulations and thus internalizing them, creating a norm. Another important factor is that the stationary nature of the lobster. Lobsters live most of their life within the same area this can be expected to increase the incentives for fishers to treat the resource sustainably since a growth in the local stock will likely benefit the same fishers in the years to come.
Based on the existence of social punishment for violators in the small coastal communities, it can be assumed that the social control in Grundsund and on Stora Kornö is much greater than in Gothenburg. Social control is one very important factor for the success of a self-governance system; therefore it could be assumed to be easier to implement a self-governance system in the small coastal societies of Grundsund and Stora Kornö than in the city of Gothenburg. (Less)
Popular Abstract
Self-Governance in the Commons
Many of our most precious natural resources are commons meaning that they are not owned privately nor completely controlled by the state. In 1968 Garret Hardin described in a soon famous article how these resources would be overexploited if not privatized or fully controlled by the government, he called this phenomenon “the tragedy of the commons”. In the 1990s Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom described a third way to govern the commons through collaboration between the resource users themselves in a system based on local self-governance.
In self-governance the resource users themselves establish and enforce regulations to protect a common resource. To find out whether a self-governance system would be... (More)
Self-Governance in the Commons
Many of our most precious natural resources are commons meaning that they are not owned privately nor completely controlled by the state. In 1968 Garret Hardin described in a soon famous article how these resources would be overexploited if not privatized or fully controlled by the government, he called this phenomenon “the tragedy of the commons”. In the 1990s Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom described a third way to govern the commons through collaboration between the resource users themselves in a system based on local self-governance.
In self-governance the resource users themselves establish and enforce regulations to protect a common resource. To find out whether a self-governance system would be suitable in Swedish fisheries a case study of the recreational lobster fishery in Sweden was conducted. Fishers from the small coastal towns Stora Kornö and Grundsund as well as the from the city of Gothenburg were asked to answer questions about why they follow established regulations and what they would do if they caught another fisher with illegal harvest.
Through the interviews it became clear that it was not socially acceptable to harvest illegal lobster. This social norm seemed to have developed as a response to a decline in the lobster stock. The fishers in the small coastal communities would to a much greater extent use social punishment (e.g. ostracism, spreading the word etc.) if someone violated the regulations than the fishers in Gothenburg. The stronger social control in the small coastal towns indicated that they already have a structure that could facilitate a self-governance system. This points to the fundamental conclusion that it would be easier to implement a self-governance system in contexts where the feeling of local connection and common social norms are strong. (Less)
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author
Telemo, Vera LU
supervisor
organization
course
MVEK02 20152
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
keywords
Commons self-governance lobster
language
English
id
8166425
date added to LUP
2015-11-05 09:06:56
date last changed
2015-11-05 09:06:56
@misc{8166425,
  abstract     = {Most of the natural resources we rely on for our existence on this planet could in one way or another be a subject to overexploitation through tragedy of the commons. Tragedy of the commons occurs when rational individuals all acting in their own self-interest creates a situation that is suboptimal for everyone involved (Hardin, 1968). For long privatization or government control over a common were seen as the only two options to avoid this tragedy. Through empirical studies Elinor Ostrom described a third alternative based on local self-governance where individuals themselves managed to collaborate around a scarce resource and create long-term sustainability (Ostrom, 1999). 
In this study the appropriateness of a self-governance system in small coastal societies and in the city of Gothenburg was assessed through a case study of recreational lobster fishers. Further on some factors to get acceptance for regulations in a common were highlighted. One of these factors was the development of social norms regarding regulations in lobster fishing. The norm development seemed to have followed a perceived crisis in the fishery. This visible decline of the stock made the fishers realize the importance of the regulations and thus internalizing them, creating a norm. Another important factor is that the stationary nature of the lobster. Lobsters live most of their life within the same area this can be expected to increase the incentives for fishers to treat the resource sustainably since a growth in the local stock will likely benefit the same fishers in the years to come. 
Based on the existence of social punishment for violators in the small coastal communities, it can be assumed that the social control in Grundsund and on Stora Kornö is much greater than in Gothenburg. Social control is one very important factor for the success of a self-governance system; therefore it could be assumed to be easier to implement a self-governance system in the small coastal societies of Grundsund and Stora Kornö than in the city of Gothenburg.},
  author       = {Telemo, Vera},
  keyword      = {Commons self-governance lobster},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Self-Governance in the Commons - A study of social control in Swedish recreational lobster fisheries},
  year         = {2015},
}