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Coasean Approaches to Address Overfishing: Bigeye Tuna Conservation in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean

Bigeye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean were perceived as overfished for nearly 20 years, in large part because of incidental catch in the much larger skipjack tuna fishery. Efforts to halt the overfishing of bigeye stalled because of disagreements over the distribution of costs and benefits from reform. An alternative Coasean-style approach to setting both harvesting levels and the allocation of costs and benefits might offer a path forward. We calculate the costs and benefits of achieving bigeye conservation goals and describe an exchange through which benefits could be realized via removal of fish-aggregating devices (FADs). Through trade, aggregate benefits and costs are more apt to be in balance relative to mandated protection controls. The realities of bargaining costs in a multilateral setting are not underappreciated, but in light of existing stalemates in this and other fisheries, consideration of Coasean-style approaches is warranted.