The Tragedy of the Commons - Essay Sample

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548 words
University of Richmond
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Traditionally, many natural properties have been governed by companies and federal administration organizations. According to Hardin (1968) & Ostrom (1999), companies and governments are important to evade the tragedies of the commons in which local reserve consumers unsustainably harvest the reserve for their own interim welfares. As a resource, water is becoming an economic issue as humans fight for it. Human activities such as industrial development are major causes of water pollution. Through industrialization toxic waste is directed into the water bodies such as oceans, lakes, rivers, and seas hence, making them dirty and are looked upon with disregard. Water pollution has imposes these adverse effects on all kinds of aquatic fauna and flora. As a result, the water bodies acidity levels have gradually increased in the last 250years by more than 150%.

Moreover, a common-pool resource encompasses a natural reserve or an artificial resource scheme, whose features or size makes it expensive and easy for people to use and benefit from using it. These types of reserve face issues of overuse due to its characteristic of being subtract-able. For instance, in this time of many challenges, the rate at which fisheries are affected by environmental problems such as water pollution is becoming a major concern. Historically, it has been viewed as common property resource rather than as private goods. Consequently, it has led to fishing being viewed as a typical case of tragedy of commons (Hardin, 1968) where people overharvest the resources to meet their own benefits, through an increase in fishing activities, hence unavoidably leading to a stock downfall. Despite the fact that there has been an increase in the harvesting volume, the population of fish has gradually reduced. One of the basic issues that have led to massive overfishing in the water bodies is the absence of assets privileges for numerous economically valued species in the vast water bodies.

However, this common-pool resource does not meet the criteria outlined by Hardin or Ostrom for long-term sustainability. This is because Hardin (1968) claims that only the federal administration organizations and private property could sustain the commons over the long-run to determine the ecological change, whereas Ostrom (1999) suggests several principles that could help people manage the commons sustainably and justifiably in the long-run.

Fortunately, there is hope for sustainable fisheries when commons are managed. For instance, state authorities are apparently required to enforce laws on local consumers to reduce the over usage of fisheries. Also, the local government should take the initiative to educate local users on the management of natural resources to address the effects of water pollution in the discussed common-pool resource. By doing so, people will become imminent supervisors of natural reserves and they will be able to keep fisheries as moderately consistent entities that are strictly connected through a vast area. Finally, the local fisheries authorities can issue regulated and enforced fishing rights and quotas set jointly by government fishery officials and fishing companies. The government can also involve the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) that oversees global fisheries to guide them in the rejuvenation of the depleted fisheries.


Hardin, G. (1968). The Tragedy of the Commons. Science, 162. Available at:, E. (1999). Coping with Tragedies of the Commons. Annual Review of Political Science.

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