chapter  3
9 Pages

The emergence of state-landed property in the oceans

How, then, to combat these two rent-depleting factors? Though the size, scale and structure of fisheries systems are highly diverse, the World Bank uniformly ties its problem definition and solution to the state. On the former, fish stock depletion constitutes a loss of the nation’s ‘natural capital’, and thus a loss of national wealth. On the latter, recovering and capturing lost rents is also a project of the state. According to the report:

The Bank identifies the state as responsible for strengthening property rights in order to restore an economic logic to the fishing sector (World Bank 2009, xxi). This is because ‘the “tragedy of the commons” suggests that where forms of open access persist (which is the case in many of the world’s fisheries), profits will be dissipated’ (World Bank 2009, 38). Accordingly, the Bank estimates that billions in lost ‘economic rent’ will be recovered globally if states define, strengthen and manage property rights so that ‘biomass (the fish stock) and the capital stock (fleet) are in equilibrium’ (World Bank 2009, 40).