Use of Common Property to address the Commons Problem
The use of common property to address the problem of common people refers to the tragedy of the commons. Most of the work on environment cuts across the pro-regulatory traditional protectionist laws and policies.
According to Acheson, the tragedy of commons does not hold correctly to the future of all the available resources. Private owners instead of the general deserving public use the resources. Acheson reviews several classic examples of managing environmental resources in his essay. There are some institutional regimes, which have been in operation for a long period without degrading the available resources. In addition, Acheson examines the common characteristics that connect the regimes to enable him specify the traits of all regimes that attempt to deal to deal with the tragedy of the commons.
Common Feature of Regimes
Successful regimes and systems have definite communities. They also have eligible managers to regulate the conduct of the people who make use of the resources. To add on that, the regimes have advanced cautious rules enforced to guard the environment. However, some of the regimes have failed in terms of the allocation of supplies derived from the available resources. This is the onset of the commons tragedy. The regimes utilize hierarchical methodologies of rights to distribute the resources resulting to unequal shares. Some use egalitarian systems to assign the shares unequally through lottery.
Regulations set by the administration have been dominant as an environmental polity for the last 50 years. However, this is not the only description offered by Acheson. Acheson offers other alternatives to resolving the commons tragedy. One approach is mutual coercion and agreement. This is the commons can reach a point where they unanimously agree with the administration on how well the resources can be distributed. Resource allocation and supply sharing need not be that work of the administration alone. To promote fairness, the commons could to have the representation of a few. This is because of the technicalities involved in acquiring the consent of the entire community given the population at hand.
In the alternative method, Acheson asserts that reliance on the available resources (property) is an effective way to stop the tragedy encountered by the commons. The best way to stop the tragedy is through the privatization of the available resources. Individuals should own what their abilities allow them to acquire.
Acheson identified that property rights are secure and clearly defined. The commons’ tragedy is worse if there are no legislations in place to allow access to the resources. Each owner in the community has the adequate incentive to be the steward in the protection of the available resources. They can freely care for the resources and cease its misuse and overexploitation. In this manner, the level of responsibility heightens as all people deter from exhausting what the natural environment has offered.
However, there is still fear that the ability of the property rights to protect the available resources is not adequate. The whole community needs to make use of the natural resources. This makes the definition and defense of the property policies very difficult. Their scope should define the extent that society has the ability to derive adequate supplies from it. On the other hand, the scope of the scope is not too wide to allow overexploitation of the resources.
The most important thing about the policies is that they must strike a balance between use and misuse.
The Lobster Fiefs
Lobstermen from all communities residing along the Central Maine coast claim that they have onshore rights to fish in some specific areas. On the contrary, the state does not recognize these claims. The residents however enjoy the support of well-established violent groups in the area. In this region, there are two types of lobstering regions in existence. Their identification is either nucleated or perimeter where strict boundaries guard the territories. The variation in the territorial organization affects the lobstermen’s efforts to derive fish. The organization implies that the jurisdiction of fishing rights varies even in the manner in which they are applied.
All over the world, fishing regions are among the most endangered ecological territories. Many people tend to overuse the fishing regions by acquiring more than what is recommended by law. This makes it hard for nature to self-sustain the supply of fish. In fact, here are some areas where the exploitation has gone beyond the limit and necessitated government intervention through some artificial measures.
The open-access characteristic of the marine makes it prone to risk of misuse since there is no limitation as to the time and jurisdiction of access. This open-access polity of common property is what many societies (including the lobster fiefs) blame for the overexploited fisheries.
Majority of the Lobstermen use boats that powered by diesel engines to go about their fishing practices. The boats are approximately 28 to 32 feet long. This size is big for an entire community that engages in daily fishing. It explains why the natural fisheries are overexploited.
When a legal perspective takes precedence, any person who has a license has permission to fish. However, there are far more needs than the legal license. For one to actually fish, the lobstermen from the local population have to grant that individual the permission to do so. Once the individual has acquired the permission, he becomes part of a harbor gang. The person can then fish in traditional territory, which the gang has control over in the whole area. Such unlawful restriction does not adhere to the common property rights that every person in the society has to enjoy.
The restriction is unfair because the delineation of the boundaries is not very clear. It varies according to the distance from the shore. Boundaries, which are closer to the shore, have better definition than the ones that are further away towards the sea. In fact, the allocation of the fishing areas among the gangs is not fair. This is because there are certain areas that are naturally rich in fish compared to other localities. Gangs in areas with more fish supply enjoy better common property rights than the other gangs. The use of violence against the other fishers makes them unable to access the fishing points, which are not in accordance with what all people, have the permission to enjoy.
Common property laws are in place for all the individuals in the society to enjoy. Acheson suggests two approaches of resolving the property conflict. The best approach is an agreement between the authority and the people to balance the access to natural resources and share the supplies. The violent practices of the lobster fishers in the coastal region of central Maine are injustice to the whole community. The gangs should let the whole community enjoy the natural resources.