Dr. Elinor Ostrom
Dr. Ostrom was a Nobel Prize-winning economist who led groundbreaking research to better understand the “tragedy of the commons,” or the idea that shared public resources such as forests and fisheries will be depleted without proper regulatory controls. Dr. Ostrom challenged the idea that regulations had to be federally mandated or ‘top-down,’ instead advocating for grassroots solutions and local engagement to address increased pressures on our resources.
By studying diverse groups around the world, including Japanese fishermen and Swiss cheese makers, Dr. Ostrom showed that it was wrong-headed and often counterproductive to assume that those who used the resources could not set their own conservation plan. She stressed the importance of working on multiple levels to solve complex problems such as global warming.
Her research has been the foundation of resource management programs such as Catch Shares, where direct involvement by local fisherman and stakeholders in fisheries management decision-making is critical to secure fishing jobs and strengthening fish populations.