Date of Graduation

Spring 5-22-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in International and Development Economics (MSIDEC)


College of Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Yaniv Stopnitzky


Overfishing and the destruction of fishing commons in developing countries is a growing problem. Policymakers and local community leaders are looking for solutions to keep their fishing commons sustainable. Fines and enforcement mechanisms are commonly suggested to help preserve the commons. This paper discusses a novel artefactual experiment conducted throughout several fishing communities in Tanzania to determine the effect of enforcing a ban on illegal fishing gear on fishing behavior. Results indicate that the fishers in the enforcement treatment group depleted the fish stock significantly faster than the unenforced control group. One possible explanation for this result is that the players in the enforcement group responded to cheating players by increasing their fishing efforts as a grim trigger response. Alternatively, the ban and subsequent enforcement mechanism crowded out fishers’ intrinsic attitudes to sustain the resource for future rounds in the game. The fishers may have been more focused on not using illegal fishing gear than they were with sustaining the resource.