Eggs of the olive ridley marine turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) have been harvested by generations of Pacific coast communities in Central America for both economic and nutritional reasons. There has been little economic analysis that has identified possible points of improvements for management of the resource. Three egg harvesting projects were studied in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Field research using semi-structured interviews with stakeholders and key informants were undertaken in June and July 2000. Market price data were collected from harvesters, points of sale and government records. Spread price analysis suggested that more flexible seasonal and regional pricing policies might increase egg profits. Contested property rights have weakened incentives to manage the species as an asset rather than an open access resource. Transaction costs have reduced community efficiency in egg marketing. Community egg marketing cartels with authorized urban selling points are recommended to improve resource management, appropriate a higher egg profit margin and clarify the harvesting origin of eggs for consumers.
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