Dispatch: Fisheries Management in Ireland
I'm spending a few days in Cahir, Ireland, which is quite a small town in Southwest Ireland on the way to Cork. The town is centered on a big castle on the Suir River. I've just returned from a "tour" by one of the leaders of the Cahir and District Angling Association, which is one of the private clubs that manage rivers throughout Ireland, England, and Scotland. These angling clubs are basically a perfect example of local common pool resource associations, and they have been around in Ireland for roughly 80 years in some cases. The history is interesting because it is a story of transitioning from feudal landownership, to the emergence of national states, to local community management of fisheries resources. In the case of Cahir, it was a feudal estate owned by the Stuart? (I might be getting some of these names wrong because I don't have time to research every detail as I sit here and sip my Guiness) family. As these estates were abandoned, much of the river land was given over to an Irish land commission, which was then accompanied by a Irish national fisheries agency. The clubs are essentially licensed by the fisheries agencies to manage their local streams. The clubs have leadership committees to set all the policies (they must meet national standards), and charge their members annual dues. The members also do all of the riparian maintenance tasks; the classic "provision" activities of Ostrom. They charge tourists like me a fee to fish, but it is not wildly expensive at least in Cahir although the access is apparently more limited and expensive in England and some of the Atlantic salmon streams in Ireland. The angling clubs meet each other on a regional basis to coordinate management. In a senses this is privatization, but the ownership is by a community and not a single individual. Community management of common-pool resources will always involve setting up boundaries and controlling access. The angling clubs would be a brilliant study system for common-pool resource management, not to mention the cultural transmission of fishing methods. You might think I'm just here having fun, but in reality I'm conducting semi-structured interviews. And thanks to Kevin for the two hour, free, and fantastic tour of the Suir river; really nice and informative.