Argues that the serious environmental degradation occurring in two “low island” Pacific states, Kiribati and Tuvalu, can be directly attributed to the lack of allocation of rights of access to, or the lack of exclusion of non rights‐holders from, common property resources. A recommendation, resulting from research in the countries concerned, is that the governments must enforce their rights over lands and underground water, if these resources are to continue to provide benefits to the community and if disease incidence in the population (an outcome of open access to public resources) is to be reduced. For the management of inshore fisheries resources, it is suggested that rights of Island Councils are confirmed and reinforced by central government. In the case of the nations’ ocean resources, co‐operation between Pacific island states is required to manage access and exploitation by foreign vessels.
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