Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tragedy of the Commons Meets Institutions

There are always lots of examples when discussing the tragedy of the commons. But today's edition of The Wall Street Journal has a new take on an old issue - fishing. The story (free content at this writing) is about fish migration in the Bosporus - that narrow stretch of water near Istanbul that connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.

It seems that the annual fish migration has drawn fishermen for centuries. But in recent years, the take has been diminished – a classic example of overuse of a common resource. But what makes this story a little bit different is the institutional twist. Turkey is seeking admittance to the EU. The EU may put restrictions on Turkish fishing as a condition of admittance. (Remember, rules set up the incentives that impact decision-making.) Turkey doesn't think limits are warranted. But there are ethnic issues involved, as well. (Cultural norms are part of the institutional matrix.)

The article also has a slide show and brief video to accompany it. I think you'll find it a worthwhile resource.

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