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The Current Fate of the Lobster Fishery and a Proposal for Change

Samantha Renee Smith

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While many fishers would not say the current American lobster fishery is bankrupt, a core concern for  all those participating in the industry is the overcapitalization of the fishery itself. “The critical question facing our fishery management system now is how to restore the economic efficiency of our fisheries so that they can once again make a positive economic contribution to the well-being of our citizens, rather than draining tax dollars from the treasury.” This question must be answered by developing a management scheme that will lessen total fishing effort yet maintain the economic level each individual fisher has become accustomed to relative to others within the American lobster fishery. This industry includes many varying fishing operations and thus it is difficult to implement a fishing effort control program that will be viewed as fair by all participants, but this does not mean that an effective control program is impossible. This Note will examine potential solutions for the problems plaguing the American lobster fishery including the implementation of an individual transferable quota system, with enforcement method based on tagging individual lobsters or alternatively, lobster traps. In addition, this Note will focus on the overcapitalization  of the American lobster fishery, specifically on reducing the amount of input into the industry, i.e. the number of traps, while keeping output the same or with minimal variation.
40 New Eng. L. Rev. 663

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