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This is a study if the economic aspects of fishing in the United States, with special emphasis on public policy. Three kinfs of analysis are presented. First, previous theoretical work on fisheries economics is appraised. Second, there is emphasis on the socio-economic underpinnings of fishing policy. Finally, policies and institutions are evaluated. It is shown that despite favorable markets, U.S. fish production has remained relatively constant. The result has been a large increase in imports. The survey includes trends in imports, consumption, exports, and international high seas fishing competition as well as descriptions of the regime of the seas and the fishing treaties of the Untied States. On a theoretical level, the dissertation focuses on the theory of fugitive resources as applied to fisheries. Fugitive resources are resources that must be captured before they come the property of the resource user. This need to capture in order to gain ownership means that production functions of the resource users are interrelated. Most of the theoretical analysis of fishery problems have concentrated on the resource allocation aspect. It has been concluded in these writings that, from a social standpoint, excessive factors of production will be allocated to fishing industries under laissez faire and that the government should "limit entry" to the fisheries in order to correct this misallocation of society's resources. It is concluded in this thesis that this policy recommendation is of questionable merit. From a welfare economics point of view, limitation of entry will not necessarily make society better-off, because it may leave fish consumers and exlcuded fishermen in a worse position. From a practical point of view, it is shown that only small quantities of the resources of the U.S. are being misallocated to fishing and that even on a regional level the problem is often small. It is also shown that the potential productivity of fishermen in alternative occupations is probably low. The fugitive status of fishery resources also has implications for the state of conservation of fishery resources and the distribution of income from those resources. These considerations have proven to be of much greater concern to U.S. policy-makers than efficient resource allocation. The thesis shows how conservation-oriented and distribution-oriented forces interact to influence different aspects of fishing policy, including constraints on technology, the regime of the seas, and the fishery agreements. Several fishery related institutions are appraised. It is concluded that the present economic organization of the oceans has considerable merit, since it has facilitated tremendous increases in ocean-related economic activities over the years. The various fishery agreements are discussed individually and it is shown that, on the whole, these agreements are making a substantial contribution toward fulfilling the fishery-related objectives of the United States. Such institutuions as the Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas, the principle of abstention, and the U.S. exclusive fishing zone are examined.


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