In groundbreaking and award-winning research, social scientists have documented the power of small groups to manage common pool resources (CPRs). That research concludes that collective or communal ownership of CPRs may be optimal in certain circumstances. While group- and community-level rights have also sometimes been conceived in property law terms, these accounts have not focused on whether and how to protect existing groups whose successful management of CPRs has been documented. The idea that such a movement might occur, and what form it should take, is ripe for consideration and evaluation.
In this Article, I use an initiative currently being advanced by a community of Maine lobstermen to create and illustrate a model that might be broadly used for the recognition of group-level property rights in communities, or other groups, that are the de facto stewards of common pool resources. Describing both when and how such a community-level right might be recognized and what its substantive contours should be, the Article draws not only from the recent social science research that recognizes the benefits of small group management of CPRs, but also from the growing field of cultural property rights, in which group-level rights have already been embraced in both domestic and international law.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/saunderspq/2/