9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN09 Economic Sociology

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Local - Global Relations Building AA, AA.229

"Crime and Punishment": Enforcement and Compliance in the European Fisheries

Monitoring and enforcement considerations have been largely ignored in the study of fishery management. This paper explores this issue with a formal model to show how fishing firms behave and fisheries policies are affected by costly, imperfect enforcement of fisheries law. The theoretical analysis combines standard Economics of Fisheries analysis (Gordon/Schaefer model) with the theory of "Crime and Punishment" of Becker (1968). Becker's analysis has its fundaments in the Economics of Uncertainty and Information.
The model sustains a rule of optimal behaviour for a rational ("homo economicus") operator: For a given stock size, the firm sets its catch rate at a level in excess of its quota, where marginal profits equal the expected marginal penalty.
Model conclusions are used to discuss the design of the control regime of the Common Fisheries Policy.
Implementing Common policies is never easy, especially when myopic individual interests do not match with long term collective interests. This is the case in fisheries. Without a clear and effective policy of control, the Commission is certain that the "Tragedy of the Commons" (over-fishing and overcapacity) will result.
According to BECKER (1968), individuals rationally decide whether or not engage in criminal activities by comparing the expected returns to crime with the legitimate business. The analysis of the Commission proposals seems to give a special attention to the increase of the probability of detection as a means to deter criminal behaviour and increase compliance with regulation. Introduction of severe penalties is not in the first line of measures to control illegal fishing.
The Commission believes that financial support will guarantee the indispensable means of surveillance and increase the deterrence capacity of Member States, in uniform manner, and the transparency and trust between partners. But the Commission also knows that legal administrations have significant differences and that judicial machinery has a great inertia. The efficiency of justice is not only a question of financial means. It has cultural and historical roots. It's virtually impossible to put all the Member States in uniform position in terms of speed and severity of penalties application.