Declining fish stocks have led governments over the years to deploy traditional top-down measures in fisheries management. This top-down model is generally held responsible for the failure of fisheries management, attributed to the state's ignorance of environmental effects of decisions and the lack of participation of the people affected. A way forward is perceived to be the common formulation of the problem and the design of its most adequate solution strategies in a policy-making process in which state, market and civil society play a significant role. In search for alternatives, Dutch government is increasingly deploying the instrument of covenants in fisheries management. We will use the Dutch case to analyse the role and function of covenants in fisheries management and seek to translate the Dutch experience to the wider European context of the EU Common Fisheries Policy
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