Tim Worstall argues that property rights should be assigned to individual fishers. In his sanguine view:
We actually know how to solve this problem. Seriously, we do, we know how to solve the biggest of the short term environmental problems on the planet (the only larger one is climate change which is much longer term).
This is however a bit too sweeping. Certainly in some contexts individual transferrable quotas (ITQs) would address the overfishing problem. However as shown by some research cited in a a World Bank study on saving fisheries, there are some situations where ITQs may not work. For example, in tropical fisheries in the developign world, the following preclude effective implementation of ITQ regimes:
First, the fishery is multispecies, considerably complicating the definition of total allowable catch;
Second, fishers are numerous (much more so than in the industrial fisheries in which ITQs were successfully implemented); monitoring and enforcement of individual quotas is difficult.
Third, social and market infrastructure is underdeveloped or absent. It is difficult to imagine how to set up a market for ITQs in say Batangas Bay or the Java sea.
In these cases, the second option is perhaps more appropriate: assigning property rights at the level of groups (or "community-based management"). How group rights are defined, and how groups are to operate, is however not a simple matter - Ostrom and others have studied numerous traditional and modern institutions for collective management of the commons. As with almost anything else, one can juxtapose success stories with cautionary tales. Identifying some general principles for a well-functioning collective management of the fisheries in the developing countries remains an open research problem, in which social scientists are just beginning to make headway.