The Danish State's Regulation of the Danish Fishery: A New Era of the Exploitation of the Commons?

Emil Peter Schmidt-Rasmussen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis investigates which constitutive effects the Danish states’ regulation of Danish fisheries have had on the regulation of the commons during the period from 1987-2017. In order to do so, I have used Niels Åkerstrøm Andersen’s theories of Institutional History to divide my analysis into two sections. The first section being the diachronic analysis seeks to identify a historical development during the cause of 1987-2017 and the second, the synchronic analysis aims to detect the present. Throughout the analysis the goal is to examine the states own perception of itself by investigating its communication on the second order. The period 1987-2017 can be divided into two main sections or phases; the detail regulation phase (1987-2005) and the self-regulation phase (2005-2017). Each phase is categorized by the states vision upon its own management of the Danish fishery. The detail regulation phase is dominated by a discourse of control, in which the state seeks to control and manage every aspect of the Danish fishery. In the self-regulation phase however, the state has given up a large part of its responsibility to private fishermen by the introduction of the political agreement “Ny Regulering” and the new quota-system. Finally, the self-regulation phase is disturbed by a report from Rigsrevisionen (The State Accountants), which contains a heavy critique of the quota-system, mainly of the concentration of quotas on a small number of fishermen. This marks the end of the selfregulation phase and the beginning of the synchronic analysis. Through an examination of the theoretical concepts of “Structure”, “Operations” and “Limits”, the synchronic analysis demonstrates the many similarities in the present and the previous self-regulation phase, indicating that the quota-system has come to stay. Even further, the analysis indicates that new legislation concerning fishery seeks to expand the current termination period from 8 to 16 years, proving that the state has no intention of removing the current quota-system at this point. Finally, this thesis discusses whether the lack of change can be explained by a modification of the States perception of “Commons”, exemplified by the concepts followed by the “Tragedy of the commons”, “Ressourcerenten” (resource-rate), and Brexit

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages81
SupervisorsErik Højbjerg