In This Review

Beyond the Tragedy in Global Fisheries
Beyond the Tragedy in Global Fisheries
By D.G. Webster
MIT Press, 2015, 488 pp.

Climate change, a relatively recent concern, dominates contemporary discussions of shared resources and “the tragedy of the commons.” Webster’s comprehensive, although somewhat jargony, book reminds readers of another tragedy—the overexploitation of ocean fisheries—and explores attempts to prevent or overcome it, a battle that people have waged for centuries. Every commercial fishing firm wants to catch as many fish as it can. But without restraints, fisheries ultimately collapse, particularly as fishing technology advances. Webster documents and evaluates conservation efforts, which sometimes succeed but mostly fail, usually owing to the political clout of major commercial fishing concerns looking out for their short-term economic interests. This track record does not set a happy precedent for attempts to limit global emissions of greenhouse gases.