Tragedy of the Commons: Exploitation of the Natural Resources

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Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Fishery and the Economic Theories
  • ‘Tragedy of Commons’


The tragedy of commons happens where overused the natural resources due to it is common. Each user is stimulated to maximize his or her utilization without considering the others and the consequence of the over exploitation. As the result of this, resources degradation will happen. This kind of situation exist in Lake Tana, Ethiopia. This study used a qualitative and quantitative (using secondary data) from the relevant institution and the former research documents. Accordingly, the fish yield has been reduced over the years. The study identified the major reasons, fishing fleets increasing is one of the reasons. Fishers has been continuing to exploit resources without the concern to the over utilization and depletion. Premature fishing and overfishing damages the resource. In addition, the reproduction of fish needs high level of water transparency. However, the Lake Tana is featured as a low water transparency due to high silt load of the inflowing rivers during the rainy seasons. Besides to these, it is negatively impacted by water hyacinth, expansion of agriculture, wetland degradation and others. As the solutions, the study suggests that improving the livelihood of the people who are located around the Lake specially the introduction of off-farm activities to reduce the burden who depend on the land. Collaborative with all elements of the community to create awareness and on how to save and redevelop resource in community should be done. Introduction of the legal and regulatory aspects are also important to regulate the problem of the rivals and non-excludable features of the common recourses.

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The main aim of this term paper is to examines how the economic theory of common pool resources reflected the real word. To do this the study preference to evaluated case study of fishing in Lake Tana, Ethiopia as an important feature of the ‘tragedy of common’. Generally, the paper is organized into five sections. Next to introduction, the second section is literature review on economic theories of fishery and the tragedy of Commons. The third section is materials and methods used. The fourth is the results and findings on the Lake, fishing, yield reduction as well as the major reasons are discussed. The final part is concluding remarks.

Literature Review

Fishery and the Economic Theories

It is “…applicable generally to all cases where natural resources are owned in the common and exploited under conditions of individualistic competition” (Gordon H. S., 1954: 1) According to Gordon due to the individual rival behavior and the tragedy of common resources are exploited. In relation to the fishing and fishery, he indicated that the availability of the fish will varies from location to location within the same lake or sea depends on the suitability of for the fish (Gordon H. S., 1954). Demersal, or bottom-dwelling fish’s similar species and the various flat-fishes, are relatively non-migratory in character (Dwi Wulandari1, and etal. 2018: 120). This kind of fishes feed and live on shallow continental shelves where the recurrent mixing of cold water preserves the convenience of those nutrient salts which form the essential basis of marine-food chains. The fish is exceptionally situated in one area, detached by natural fences which barred.

Causes and Solutions of “Tragedy of the Commons” the common pool resources (here after CPR) management in Lake Tana, Ethiopia, its featured as a low water transparency due to high silt load of the inflowing rivers during the rainy seasons (Wondie et al., 2007, Tesfahun Agumassie, 2018)). In the sense that the availability of nutrients, water transparency and the concentration of sediments are complicating the sustainable production the fish in the lake in addition to the free riding problem of the fishers (Eshete Dejen, etal, 2017). Besides to these, negatively impacted of water hyacinth (the type of bad weed, which negatively affects the fish reproduction) expansion of agriculture, wetland degradation and industrialization (Tesfahun Agumassie, 2018:94). the reduction of production and the low productivity seems to be caused by both light and nutrient limitation which is related the up side from the lake soil erosion, land degradation and deforestation, especially resulted in erosion (Mekonnen et al., 2015).

In relation to the earning the optimal yield, each fishing ground perhaps have their own exceptional fish morphology (Dwi Wulandari1, and etal. 2018: 120). Accordingly, optimum degree of yield in economic terms defined as any treatment that make the most of the net economic harvest. It can be observed through the difference among total revenue (total value production) and total cost and. The situation of Lake Tana can be stated in a function of the level of fishing concentration. In the sense that the the function accommodates fishing effort and its relationship between total value produced as in (Gordon H. S., 1954)

Causes and Solutions of “Tragedy of the Commons” in Natural Resources Management situation of Lake Tana can be conceptualized and expressed by (Gordon H. S., 1954:130-131). The curve MP and AP represent, respectively, the marginal productivity and average productivity as well as the fishing efforts. While average cost and marginal cost are identical and constant, explained by MC and AC. The Ox shows the fishing ground of the optimal intensity of the efforts. It offers the maximum net economic harvest indicated by the area apqc. The area apqc is observed as the rent produced by the fishery resource. Given the situation, the fishing ground of Ox is the best level of exploitation. This implies that this analysis is then expanded to extra fishing ground, as sea fishery is not common resources or not private property. This also assumes that no legal ownership on each fisherman on specific sea bottom. Therefore, everyone has choice to move to another fishing ground.

Fishing ground 1 will harvest higher amount of overall product and average product than fishing ground 2. Therefore, there will be total net yield difference and it is maximum, which is Oy in fishing ground 2, while Ox in fishing ground 1. In the course of production, fisherman who starting to switch from fishing ground 1 to 2 will care about average productivity, he or she will not care about marginal productivity. Thus, both later understood that the larger overall harvest may obtained. If fishing effort were assigned in the optimal manner, as revealed in figure 2, with Oy on 2 and Ox on 1, this would be imbalance situation. To get more individual benefit fisherman could expect to get an average catch of Oa on 1 but only Ob in 2. So, fishermen would shift from 2 to1.

‘Tragedy of Commons’

The problem of the CPR, all member of the community jointly owns this resource, all the equal rights over the resources. The economic features of the CPR are rival by competitive and non-excludable (Professor XU Jintao Microeconomics & Policy course lecture, 2019), According to him, if this kind of situation continue the outcome will be misutilization of resources. The case of milk cow, ranch, commonly owned when the resources are commons, individual’s happiness due to the problem of free riding. This is called the tragedy of common. of is a condition that leads to because of common goods. The origin of the idea comes from the theory classical thought that state do not regulate common goods (Dwi Wulandari1, and etal. 2018: 120). We can see the case of common ranch which use of grazing of livestock as the example, the owner of the cow divide to add a cow and who pursues to optimize his gain. Then, he will confront negative and positive aspects of adding one more cow to grazing land. The encouraging component is a function of the raise of one cow. Since the owner of the cow obtains all the progresses from the sale of the extra animal, the more utility is approximately +1. Conversely, the adverse section will be the function of the added overgrazing due to one more cow. The problem of the more livestock of the common land will spillover to other cow owner who are using the grazing land. In the sense that the negative utility for one individual choice will adversely affect the others (Dwi Wulandari, and et al., 2018, Professor XU Jintao Microeconomics & Policy course lecture, 2019 )

When we add the sections of the partial utilities, the rational cow owner will decide that to have an additional cow to the common grazing. But this is the conclusion reached by each and every rational herdsman sharing a common. However, this decision will not be limited by the one person, the others will decide to do the same thing as the first one doing. Then this is rivals and the real feature of the ‘tragedy of common’. Accordingly, each owner enters into a system that induces her or him to rise her/ his crowd with no constraint while resources are limited. Devastation is the last stop toward which all men hurry, each following her/ his individual more benefit in a civilization that accept as trues in the self-determination of the shared. Freedom in a shared brings destruction to all of the tragedy of commons as crowd. Similar things happen in the case of the lakes and see fish resources (Eshete Dejen, Wessie Anteneh and Jacobus Vijverberg, 2017: 1843). The devastation is similarly happening in the case lake Tana, Ethiopia which this term paper deal in the following pages. The foremost reason of tragedy of commons is the rival of competitive and non-excludability to from free access. In the sense that the tragedy of the common are the major factor which includes free access to resources for example sea or common lakes fish, fresh air, and forest, water, which directs to s to over utilization and degradations.

Literatures suggest solutions so as to manage and substantiable CPR and overcome tragedy. These includes; Communication and awareness creation the people, monitoring and sanctioning, cultural institution development specially the fishermen communities, transferring ownership from common to government or private, sharing the output to the subgroup, introduction of rules and regulations to administer the commons, punishment who violate the regulations, empower, and organize the people and establish the institutions and social capital developments.

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