IOF Seminar: The 21st Century Wharf

Fri, October 13, 2017 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM AQUATIC ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH LABORATORY (AERL). Speaker: Josh Eagle
Solomon Blatt Professor of Law,
Director, Coastal Law Field Lab
University of South Carolina

Location: AERL 120 (Theatre)
2202 Main Mall, UBC

In early colonial America, the English common law did not grant waterfront landowners the right to construct a wharf (a pier or dock) on the submerged land next to their property. By the 1640s, however, colonial legislatures and courts began to change that. They recognized that the establishment of this private right, which allowed landowners to connect to navigation, would benefit the growing nation.

The bargain was as follows: By providing the private landowner with an easement over the adjacent submerged land, the government would encourage private investment in the construction of commercial wharves. Private investment in wharves would not only increase the value of the owner’s property, but it would also provide benefits to society in the form of cheaper and more convenient facilities for the movement of goods and services by water.

While we may no longer be concerned with wharf shortages, there are other publicly important projects -- such as building new dunes and restoring fish habitat -- that waterfront landowners might undertake. Should we develop new kinds of property rights that would encourage private investment in enhancing ecosystem services? What would these rights look like, and what are the potential benefits and risks of a property rights approach?

Speaker: Josh Eagle is the Solomon Blatt Professor of Law and the Director of the Coastal Law Field Lab at the University of South Carolina. He is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University (B.A.), Colorado State University (M.S., Forest Sciences), and Georgetown University (J.D.), and he began his legal career at the United States Department of Justice.

Professor Eagle has published on a wide range of topics, including coastal land use, fisheries, public lands, conservation easements, and endangered species. He has been named an Atlantic Fellow in Public Policy, a Fulbright Scholar, and an international visiting research scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.

IOF Seminar Series: Invited speakers present the latest research in a wide range of disciplines related to freshwater systems, the oceans and fisheries. These seminars draw a diverse audience, leading to thought-provoking discussions and a sharing of new ideas and perspectives.