Moving beyond panaceas in fisheries governance

Young, Oran and Webster, D.G. and Cox, Michael E. and Raakjær, Jesper and Blaxekjær, Lau Øfjord and Einarsson, Níels and Virginia, Ross A. and Acheson, James and Bromley, Daniel and Cardwell, Emma and Carothers, Courtney and Eythórsson, Einar and Howarth, Richard B. and Jentoft, Svein and McCay, Bonnie J. and McCormack, Fiona and Osherenko, Gail and Pinkerton, Evelyn and van Ginkel, Rob and Wilson, James A. and Rivers, Louie and Wilson, Robyn S. (2018) Moving beyond panaceas in fisheries governance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115 (37). pp. 9065-9073. ISSN 0027-8424

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In fisheries management—as in environmental governance more generally—regulatory arrangements that are thought to be helpful in some contexts frequently become panaceas or, in other words, simple formulaic policy prescriptions believed to solve a given problem in a wide range of contexts, regardless of their actual consequences. When this happens, management is likely to fail, and negative side effects are common. We focus on the case of individual transferable quotas to explore the panacea mindset, a set of factors that promote the spread and persistence of panaceas. These include conceptual narratives that make easy answers like panaceas seem plausible, power disconnects that create vested interests in panaceas, and heuristics and biases that prevent people from accurately assessing panaceas. Analysts have suggested many approaches to avoiding panaceas, but most fail to conquer the underlying panacea mindset. Here, we suggest the codevelopment of an institutional diagnostics toolkit to distill the vast amount of information on fisheries governance into an easily accessible, open, on-line database of checklists, case studies, and related resources. Toolkits like this could be used in many governance settings to challenge users’ understandings of a policy’s impacts and help them develop solutions better tailored to their particular context. They would not replace the more comprehensive approaches found in the literature but would rather be an intermediate step away from the problem of panaceas.

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Journal Article
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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
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31 May 2022 10:00
Last Modified:
21 Sep 2023 03:17