Something Fishy on the High Seas: International Regulation, State Capacity and Common Pool Resources
How State Capacity affects Overfishing within and beyond National Jurisdiction
Overfishing is a large-scale collective action problem that poses real threats to the marine ecosystem, livelihoods, food security, and the world’s climate. Thus, understanding fishermen’s compliance with fisheries regulations is particularly valuable. How does state capacity affect overfishing within and beyond national jurisdiction? While previous research threats overfishing as a rather static matter and has strongly focused on the regulatory agencies’ capacity to monitor fishermen and enforce fisheries regulation under and beyond national jurisdiction, the transfer of earlier, under national jurisdiction, generated norms of compliance to areas beyond national jurisdiction has been overlooked. Furthermore, regulatory areas might vary in their appeal to fishermen, due to levels of state capacity, and the fishermen might shift their activities into areas with a lesser extent of monitoring and enforcement. By using a more dynamic framework, I argue that fishermen generate norms of compliance depending on the coastal or flag state’s level of state capacity, which are, transferred into regulatory areas beyond national jurisdiction. Moreover, areas with low capacities that allow for the exploitation of fisheries by external actors, are expected to show a greater extent of overfishing. Evidence from a cross-sectional and time-series cross-sectional analysis of 106 countries suggests that state capacity affects overfishing and that norms are transferred to areas beyond national jurisdiction. Furthermore, vessels of flag states with open registries engage more often in overfishing and fishermen comply to a greater extent with fisheries regulation in waters of democracies with high state capacity.