Fishing Game Class and Lab Ideas

Ideas for using the "Fishing Game" in your class

Here is a list of questions and topics that might be discussed in class before, or after students play the game.

  1. What is the "Tragedy of the Commons" and what observations did Garrett Hardin make in developing his ideas?
  2. How do the ideas of "Tragedy of the Commons" play out in the management challenges of the global fisheries?
  3. What other shared resources (besides the fisheries) face the same issues, as commercial/corporate interests compete and conflict with long term sustainability goals? (e.g. forests, atmosphere, ground water, and public lands)
  4. Are there consequences of over-use of shared resources that have broader consequences, not only to commercial interests, but to the population as a whole?
  5. What are possible strategies for resource management that might reduce the effect of the "Tragedy of the Commons?" Are there advantages to either private or public ownership of resources? Are there real world examples of success or failure of these strategies?

Preparation for the assignment: It would be helpful to assign students some online reading related to the world fisheries. This web site has links to pertinent information about the world fisheries and a history of different management strategies. The history of the destruction of the New England cod fishery can provide perspective. Good resources can be found at "Pew Ocean Trust" and "Ocean Trust." Good videos can be found at pbs ("Empty Oceans, Empty Nets").

Before playing, students should watch the tutorial video (click the link on the left column).

If you prefer to provide a handout for your students before they play the game, you can download the instructions that are contained within the game, at: <download now (be patient, it's a big file)><download zip format>.

As a homework assignment: The Fishing Game will require about two hours to complete. The results of student work, including answers to pre and post-questions, are emailed to the teacher, and may also be printed by students. There is also an administration application that lets the teacher monitor student progress and effort as they play. If a shorter assignment is preferred, the student might select a smaller number of scenarios. However, each scenario embodies real world fishing management strategies that have particular strengths and weaknesses.

As a lab assignment: The Fishing Game was designed specifically as a homework assigment, but it should also work well as a group lab assignment. Students might work in groups of two or three (at a single computer), to enhance interaction. Individual groups could focus on different scenarios, especially if the lab is only an hour long. A discussion of student ideas could be held near the end of the lab session. The software is set up so that the student work is emailed to the person who registered the "class." But, the emailing could be avoided and the results printed. If the teaching assistant is registered in the "Manage My Classes" portion of the application, the class and student work will be emailed to him/her. You might want to make the game instructions available to students in advance. Download the instructions at: <Instructions.pdf><Instructions.zip>