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Preparation of this Foreword, my final task in editing the proceedings of the FishRights99 conference, completes a cycle that started when Gary Morgan, then Research Program Coordinator for the Western Australia Fisheries Department, was in Rome in May 1997 as a Visiting Fellow through FAO's Academic and Profession Partnership Programme. I had invited him there to work on issues related to individual quotas in fisheries management1. The use of Property Rights in fisheries management was becoming an ever more topical issue as use of this dynamic approach to fisheries management reached a stage of maturity in many countries. As such, I felt that sufficient experience existed to justify an international gathering to exchange these experiences and consequent views on the merits and failings of this management approach and record how the management practices were evolving. FAO itself has had somewhat of a start-stop involvement in rights-based approaches to fisheries management. Francis Christy, author of perhaps the seminal work on the topic2, had been a Senior Fisheries Officer in the Fisheries Department at FAO. And prior to his recruitment to FAO, the Department's interest in this form of management had begun with Jean-Paul Troadec, one of the Fisheries Department's early Service Chiefs. Subsequently, FAO together with Japan organized a conference on community-based fisheries management3. My own involvement in property rights had begun in the early 1980s in Nova Scotia. I was aware that rights-based fisheries management had become widely used in Australia and of particular interest to me was the pioneering work in the Northern Prawn Fisheries. So, it was on these foundations that the conference was built.

1 See Morgan, G.R. 1997. Individual Quota Management in Fisheries: Methodologies for Catch Quotas and Initial Allocations. FAO. Tech. Fish. Pap. No. 371. 41pp

2 Christy, F. 1973. Fishermen's Quotas: A Tentative Suggestion for Domestic Management. Law of the Sea Institute, University of Rhode Island. Occ. Pap. No. 19.

3 FAO/Japan 1993. Expert Consultation on the Development of Community-Based Coastal Fishery Management Systems for Asia and the Pacific. FAO Fish. Rep. No. 474. Suppl. Vol. 1 & 2. FAO, Rome. pp. 689.

Once the idea was put to Gary, a quick telephone call on his part to his boss, the Hon. Monty House, Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries, Western Australia, confirmed the willingness of Fisheries Western Australia to host the conference and co-organize it with the FAO Fisheries Department. A follow-up letter to the Minister from Dr Mori Hayashi, then Assistant Director-General of the Fisheries Department quickly resulted, and to use the cliché, the rest is history. A joint FAO-Fisheries Western Australia Conference Programme Committee was established, chaired by Peter Millington in Perth and supported by a FAO Fisheries Department Conference Committee in Rome. Then, staff at Fisheries Western Australia were left to confront the enormous organizational task they had accepted.

Many important decisions had to be quickly addressed. First, deciding at what time of the year to hold the conference - there was no time ideal for all - and how much lead-time was required. It was later agreed that there could never be enough. Second was where to have the conference. This was an urgent decision given that suitable venues get booked years in advance and at that point less than two years remained until the date that had been agreed upon. It was only after a visit by Ulf Wijkström, also of FAO, and myself that jointly with Peter Millington, Rebecca Metzner and Guy Leyland, we made one of our best decisions and with unanimous agreement Fremantle was chosen as the conference venue. I should note that at that time we had little, if any, idea how many people would come to the conference. The Esplanade Hotel - the Fremantle venue chosen, comfortably accommodated 400 people, but what if too many (or too few) people wished to attend? This uncertainty haunted us for sometime. Directly related to this was the question of financing the conference, something Peter Millington was able to finesse with the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation of Australia.

It was only as the conference proceeded did we appreciate the serendipity of the decision on the conference's location and venue. Fremantle retains almost all of its confederation charm. The Hotel was minutes away from a friendly and active commercial centre with an abundance of footpath cafés and the design of the hotel was such that tween sessions discussions and contacts - social and intellectual - were almost unavoidable, even by the most reclusive or jet-lagged conferee. These periods were assisted by abundant provisions of tea, coffee and high fat-content biscuits. An active evening social programme followed the day's sessions, made possible by the generosity of Australian fishing companies and Australian and New Zealand industry groups. This time too was seized upon for yet further discussions and interactions.

An early decision of the Programme Committee was that the conference was not to be about instructing people what they should think or do in relation to rights-based fisheries management and that the sessions should avoid being, in any way, didactical. It was also agreed that no declarations or other polemic banners would formally result from the conference's deliberations. Sessions were not to be taped to encourage a not necessarily “for-the-record” nature of discussions. Our objective was to provide a forum for the exchange of views and experiences, whatever they be, and to this goal the programme committee returned time and again when organizational problems had to be resolved or programme policy issues clarified.

FAO, for its part, had one further objective in terms of the conference. Our mandate, unlike that of a national fisheries department, includes promoting better fisheries management on an international basis and we hoped that the conference would attract people who, though interested in this approach to management, might have had little background in what was involved. For this reason we believed that it was necessary to precede the Core Conference with a mini-course so that participants new to this type of management approach could be introduced to the concepts and practices involved and thus participate and better benefit from the discussions during the Core and Workshop sessions. A desirable mini-course structure quickly became self-evident - a session on theory followed by one on applications. In the event, the majority of those attending the Core Sessions elected to attend the mini-course as well - a wise decision as the lectures provided both complemented and supplemented the presentations that followed. I was delighted that we were able to have Tony Scott, Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia, anchor this part of the conference proceedings.

An appropriate structure for the Core sessions was also quickly apparent: we wished to address the concerns of government, those of the fishing industry and also those of the “community at large” - whether their stake in the fishery be direct or indirect. But there were many other concerns beyond the challenge of achieving a good programme structure. It became increasingly obvious that there was much disquiet among those working in the field that the conference would turn out to be an 'ITQ-fest' (Individual Transferable Quotas) or would promote, either intentionally or inadvertently, a particular rights-based approach to fisheries management. This was a difficult unease to counter. To those concerned, it was noted that the conference was to be about Property Rights in Fisheries in their widest sense and that all views would be, and were, solicited for presentation during the sessions. However, on the other hand, given the tremendous advances in ITQ management systems it was apparent that it would be unavoidable that a major emphasis would be given to this particular management approach.

Further it seemed unconstructive to insist on a strict allocation of time to all views on a subject-by-subject basis as this would do an injustice to learning about the developments in rights-based fisheries management as they had been occurring. And, none of these concerns were helped by the difficulty we encountered in trying to 'shoe-horn' into the limited conference time frame the tremendous breath of the topic that was involved. In the event, I believe that the 'warts' of ITQ management were appropriately noted and the more so in a well-argued, elegant and constructive manner - see, for example, the papers of Bonnie McCay, Rolf Willmann and David Symes. Perhaps next time the imbalance in the numbers of presentations on the different subjects may be better solved.

Concerns about possible undue attention to ITQs were, I believe, better understood as a consequence of one of the conclusions I drew from the conference. This was the increasingly common use by many of the locution 'ITQ' as a generic term for any form of rights-based management. On several occasions at the conference I watched discussions splutter along until this confusion in terminology was recognized and resolved. Likewise, similar problems arose with the multitude of interpretations of the term 'property' and here I found the progress in dealing with the potential confusion of legal and non-legal use of this term particularly scholarly, enlightening and welcome. This too was another major contribution of the conference.

Another of our requirements for the conference was that it should provide an opportunity for those working in the field of rights-based fisheries management to give their own presentations, whether they be personal experiences in applying the methods, developing new techniques or conclusions regarding the applicability and benefits of this management approach. The Programme Committee also considered it essential that there be the opportunity for people to express value-based, or cultural, views in a way that clearly distinguished between ideological-based concerns and those of the administrative difficulties and practicalities of implementing rights-based approaches to fisheries management. This was done through the two-day workshop sessions, and I refer the reader to the foreword in Volume II, Workshop Presentations, for comments about this part of the programme.

It is sometimes the practice in forewords such as this to signal to the reader particularly interesting papers in the texts that follow. This is a challenge I wisely forgo. In fact, I think that it is a measure of the overall quality of the papers that I have found that the proceedings can be opened at any point and the reader will interested and learn from the discourse on the pages in front of them. In total, there are 110 contributions, 11 from the Mini-course, 36 from the Core session and 63 from the Workshop sessions. While I have added an index to aid the reader in a hurry for particular reference material, I do stress that the time taken to read the various presentations in full will be well rewarded.

In looking back at the conference a year later, two things remain fore most in my mind. The first was the atmosphere of the event - the stimulation and common interest of so many people with like interests but different perceptions and experiences - it truly was a remarkable nine days of fomentation, which many of those present remarked upon. My second recollection, which remains ever so strongly, was that of the professionalism and excellence that Fisheries Western Australia had brought to the preparation and execution of the conference. Peter Rogers has thanked those responsible in his preface and it is only the fear of omitting some of the many that deters me from noting an even longer list of personal appreciations. But, to Carli Gettingby, FWA Conference Co-ordinator, and Rebecca Metzner, also of Fisheries Western Australia, for their dedication and efforts, no such excuse would be admissible. To the authors, my thanks and congratulations for their so-many excellent contributions. Nor can I overlook the enormous effort of my secretary, Marie-Thérèse Magnan, in single-handedly undertaking the text processing for the Proceedings, and my colleague, Mike Mann, in tracking down so many missing hyphens and incomplete references.

Fremantle '99, as I hope the conference will be remembered, has been a major part of my life for the last two years. I look forward to seeing its developments provide a significant influence on fisheries now and in the future.

Ross Shotton

Marine Resources Service,

FishRights99 Programme Committee

Fisheries Department, FAO, Rome

Editor, Conference Proceedings

Shotton, R. (ed.)

Use of property rights in fisheries management. Proceedings of the FishRights99 Conference. Fremantle, Western Australia, 11-19 November 1999. Mini-course lectures and core conference presentations.

FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 404/1. Rome, FAO. 2000. 342p.


Part I of the proceedings consists of two major sections, the Mini-course lectures and the presentations presented during the Core Conference (Mini-course). The lectures presented during the two-day Mini-course were grouped in two sections. The first dealt with the concepts, theory and practice relating to the use of Property Rights in Fisheries Management. Subjects covered in the first past of the Mini-course included the historical development of the introduction of property in fishery management, property rights as a means of economic organization, selection of a property rights management system, resistance to changes in property rights or, whether to use Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs), current property rights systems in fisheries management and group and community-based fishing rights. Topics covered in the second part of the Mini-course included Management Infrastructure for Rights Based Fishing, Legal Planning for Management of Fisheries Using Property Rights, The Administration of Fisheries Managed by Property Rights, Administration of Enforcement Mechanisms for Rights-Based Fisheries Management Systems and Fisher Participation in Rights-based Fisheries Management: The New Zealand Experience

The second major section of Part I of the proceedings consists of the papers presented during the three-day Core Conference. These papers covered the perspectives of (a) governments in introducing and administering such methods of management and the political, conservation, social and economic consequences, (b) industry; and (c) the wider community and other involved stakeholders. The topics covered in the Core Conference were introduced by two major perspectives, Moving through the Narrows: from Open Access to ITQs and Self-government and Common Property Rights: An Alternative to ITQs.

Papers presented during the first day of the Core Sessions covered government perspectives and issues, institutional arrangements, administrative challenges and the politics of the Rights-based fisheries management process. Papers presented during the second day of the Core Sessions described the perspective of industry, strategic responses of industry and industry initiatives in advancing rights-based fisheries management. Papers presented on the final day of the Core Conference dealt with the issues of community perspectives, recreational fishing, community property rights, customary fisheries management, community-based fisheries management and the exclusivity of rights. The session was closed with papers that provided a prognosis on the future development of property rights in fisheries management.

Thus, the conference papers addressed the theory and application of property rights in fisheries management with an emphasis on national applications and experience. The presentations included those made from the perspective of the fishing industry, government policy makers and administrators and the legal implications as a consequence of national systems of law. Eleven papers were presented during the Mini-course and 36 during the Core Session.

Keywords: Fisheries Management, Property Rights, ITQs, Individual Transferable Quotas, Fisheries Policy, Fishery Access Rights


Conference participants
FAO Regional Fishery Officers
Conference Sponsors
FAO Fisheries Department
FIRM Fisheries Mailing List
Fisheries Western Australia

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