A Case Study of Technological Switching and Technological Lock-In in the French Fisheries Sector: Why is Sustainable Change so Difficult?

Type Article
Date 2012-12
Language English
Author(s) Le Floc'h Pascal1, Daures Fabienne2, Guyader Olivier2, Wilson James3
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Brest, UEB, Umr Amure, F-29238 Brest 3, France.
2 : IFREMER, Umr Amure, ZI Pointe Diable, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
3 : Univ Quebec, Rimouski, PQ G5L 3A1, Canada.
Source Canadian Journal Of Agricultural Economics-revue Canadienne D Agroeconomie (0008-3976) (Wiley-blackwell), 2012-12 , Vol. 60 , N. 4 , P. 541-559
DOI 10.1111/j.1744-7976.2012.01259.x
WOS© Times Cited 2
Abstract Many sectors such as the fishery show classic examples of technological lock-in and path dependence, even though some economists might predict smooth switching toward technologies that are more cost effective and sustainable. We use ideas from the evolutionary economics and public choice literatures to explain why trajectories of technological change, especially in fisheries, may not be smooth at all, but rather punctuated. The interest of technological change and switching behavior for fisheries economists and managers stems from the fact that control of effective effort, often necessary for sustainable management of the resource, remains a central management problem for that sector worldwide, even in developed countries. However, various policies put in place by governments to support the fishing sector, and often put in place to correct for certain market failures, may inadvertently produce other nonmarket failures, which result in technological lock-ins which are unsustainable. For example, the trawling technique was widely promoted in France in the 1970s and 1980s. Path dependency developed in such a way that the preferred choice of new entrants into the fishery was this technology. Technological lock-in occurred on the trawling technique as the trawling sector also became more politically active, making it ultimately the most widely used technique in the French fisheries sector in the Atlantic. Switching away from this technology has not taken place even with poorer economic performance of that technology. This paper also discusses the influence of state subsidies on the adoption of trawling. Even if trawling was a major innovation in fisheries in the past, its potential for technological adaptations or minor innovations is limited now. These limitations are more obvious during periods of increasing energy prices, especially in the absence of state aid. However, due to collective choice phenomena, switches to more sustainable technologies will occur more slowly.
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Le Floc'h Pascal, Daures Fabienne, Guyader Olivier, Wilson James (2012). A Case Study of Technological Switching and Technological Lock-In in the French Fisheries Sector: Why is Sustainable Change so Difficult? Canadian Journal Of Agricultural Economics-revue Canadienne D Agroeconomie, 60(4), 541-559. Publisher's official version : https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-7976.2012.01259.x , Open Access version : https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00109/21987/