Economics of fisheries [Earth Portal]
Fishing in open seas is a typical illustration of a situation where the tragedy of the commons is likely to occur. All the conditions described by Hardin are met in this case: an unrestricted number of users, unfettered by any limits on their access, extract an increasing share of a resource until natural resources are severely depleted, sometimes to the point of no return. Fishers tend to have little incentive to practice conservation, for they know that if they do not catch the available fish, someone else probably will. Without limits in place, fishers try to catch as many fish as they possibly can.
The following graph from the article above shows clearly how catch size has shrunk as fleet size has grown. A greater tragedy of the commons is not hard to imagine unless a solution can be found.
The rest of the article goes on to describe the problem and various proposed solutions.
Harris, Jonathan and Anne-Marie Codur (Lead Authors); Global Development and Environment Institute (Content Partner); Tom Tietenberg (Topic Editor). 2008. "Economics of fisheries." In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment). [First published in the Encyclopedia of Earth October 23, 2006; Last revised November 7, 2008; Retrieved November 9, 2008].