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In recent decades, the traditional public right to fish in tidal waters has been supplanted by limitations on access to the stocks, particularly for commercial fishers. This is achieved by statutory schemes establishing rights of varying natures. Where these rights are fully established, they highlight the legal characteristics of property. This study is a contribution by the FAO Development Law Service to the discussion on rights-based systems in fisheries management from a legal perspective. It outlines the development history of rights-based fisheries management, analyses the underlying concepts of property rights in fisheries and the terms used in property rights regimes, the governing legislation in jurisdictions which have introduced property rights in fisheries, the interpretation placed by the courts of the jurisdiction on that legislation, and presents possible options for implementing property-based fisheries rights systems in national legislation.

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