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As a result of these characteristics, exploitation - overuse - usually results. A common pool presents a problem, in that nobody who uses a common pool has an incentive to consume less today and save some for tomorrow. If you chose to defer consumption of a good to tomorrow, then somebody else will come in and consume it today. Therefore, it is in your best interest to consume extra today. When many people behave like this, the common pool will be exhausted very quickly. Some common examples:Hunting/FishingEndangered SpeciesWater ResourcesIn general, non-infinite renewable resources on non-private landLet us focus on a particular issue which has aroused a lot of concern lately, that being the notion of overfishing. The basic problem is that fish in the wild are not owned (non-exclusive property rights) until they are captured, at which point they are dead and, hence, unable to reproduce. A lot of fishing is complicated by the fact that a lot offish exist and are caught in what are called "international waters", which are typically any oceans more than 12 miles from the coast of any nation.Given a certain population of fish, it is possible for humans to consume a certain amount of fish in a given year, and the fish in the ocean will breed and reproduce, allowing the quantity of fish in the ocean to stay more or less constant. However, if we catch too many fish today, then the population remaining in the sea will not be able to generate enough offspring to replenish the stock, and the quantity of fish in thesea will shrink over time. Eventually, it will become extinct. Clearly, mankind as a collective entity has an incentive to not over-fish today, to ensure that enough fish in the sea will remain to allow us to consume fish for the rest of time. Unfortunately, very few individuals face the same incentive privately. Catching more fish today means more profit today, and if I were to catch fewer fish, it is likely that someone from another ship will come and catch any fish that I am trying to "conserve", becauseI do not have any property rights to fish in the wild.How do we solve this problem? The common answer to this is to grant property rightsto the pool. Then, when somebody owns the pool, they have an incentive to preserve some of it for tomorrow. This is why cows are not in danger of becoming extinct – all cows are owned by somebody. African elephants were in danger of going extinct because nobody owned elephants, and people would kill them for ivory. In southern Africa, elephants have been converted to private property, and the population is growing. Note that the Indian elephant has never been at risk of extinction, because inIndia elephants are working animals that are owned by people.Returning to the example of fish, there was a great source of fish in the North Atlanticknown as the "Grand Banks", a warm shallow area off the coast of Newfoundland in
Canada. The history of the Grand Banks is described at the following link in more