Conservation Cartels: Competition Policy Can Conflict with Environmental Protection

By Adler, Jonathan H. | Regulation, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

Conservation Cartels: Competition Policy Can Conflict with Environmental Protection


Adler, Jonathan H., Regulation


IN THE 1930s, FRANK MANAKA SOUGHT WORK as a fisherman off the coast of Monterey. California. He chartered a boat but was unable to market his catch. Local canneries would not purchase fish from him. In 1940, he filed suit against the Monterey Sardine Industries, Inc., a cooperative association of fishing boat owners, and the Del Mar Canning Company for allegedly conspiring to set prices and restrict entry into the California sardine fishery. Under an agreement between the association, the local canneries, and the local fishermen's union, fine association set the price for which its members' fish were sold to canneries and reduction plants. The canneries, in turn, agreed to purchase fish exclusively from members of Monterey Sardine who were assigned to it by the association. Manaka was not a member, so he could not sell his fish and so he sued.

Although Monterey Sardine may have operated like the typical collusive cartel, it served both pecuniary and conservation purposes. On the one hand, it increased members' profits by increasing fish prices and restricting entry by non-local fishers. On the other, it helped to conserve fish stocks by limiting the harvest. Challenged by Manaka, Monterey Sardine Industries was found guilty of conspiracy in restraint of trade under the Sherman Act. The federal district court held that the association was "not freed from the restrictive provisions of the anti-trust act" merely because it sought "the conservation of important food fish." In other words, the association's conduct was no less exclusionary because it served, in part, to conserve fish stocks.

In the 1930s, the California sardine fishery was at its peak, yielding over 500,000 tons of fish per year. By the early 1950s, the annual catch had dropped to under 20,000 tons as the fishery began to collapse. It is possible that the sardine fishery's decline was unavoidable. Commercial harvesting might have depleted the fishery even if Monterey Sardine Industries' collusive arrangement had been permitted to survive. Changing environmental conditions might have made the collapse inevitable. Then again, perhaps if it were not for antitrust enforcement, this tragedy of the marine commons might have been avoided. The existence of a private association capable of ensuring the local fish catch was maintained at a sustainable level might have saved the fishery. Busting up this "conservation cartel" might have made the fishery more "competitive" in a narrow sense, while at the same time undermining the equally important goal of resource conservation.

Off the California coast and elsewhere, fishermen who sought to organize such "conservation cartels" to manage fisheries and control catches were prosecuted for antitrust violations. At the same time, the depletion of ocean fisheries continued apace, to the point where fishery depletion has become one of the greatest environmental problems on the planet. Antitrust law, though well-intentioned, may have discouraged--if not in some cases actually prohibited--private arrangements that could ensure the sustainable utilization of marine resources.

THE MARINE COMMONS

Conservation of marine fisheries presents the archetypal "commons" problem, most famously depicted by ecologist Garrett Hardin in "The Tragedy of the Commons." Hardin described the fate of a common pasture, unowned and available to all. In such a situation, it is in each herder's self-interest to maximize his use of the commons at the expense of the community at large. Each herder captures all of the benefit from adding one more animal to his herd; the costs of over grazing the pasture, however, are distributed amongst every pasture user. When all the herders respond to the incentives created by the open-access nature of the commons, the pasture is overgrazed. "Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit--in a world that is limited," Hardin wrote. The pursuit of self-interest in an open-access commons results in a tragedy; "Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Conservation Cartels: Competition Policy Can Conflict with Environmental Protection
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.