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Tragedy of the Commons

When no one owns a resource, it may get over-used, for example fish stocks and deforestation - people use and benefit from a common pool resource such as grazing land without regard to the effects on others.

Over-use of a renewable resource can lead to a long-term decline in maximum sustainable yield. A good example of the tragedy of the commons is the problem of over-fishing in areas where fishing grounds are poorly protected.

Over-use of common pool resources can happen because people are acting in their own self-interest without regard to the impact this has on others in a community. It is a major cause of environmental market failure.

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