Fishery in which there is no limit on the number of operators or vessels allowed to operate in the fishery (cf. Limited-entry fishery). In the absence of economic constraints or other controls or incentives to reduce catches (see Output controls), such a fishery is liable to suffer the ‘tragedy of the commons’, where a ‘race to fish’ generally leaves a fish stock below its maximum sustainable yield and unable to support an economically profitable fishery. Under open access, a fishery operates with a harvest and effort that result in total revenue equalling costs, with no economic profits being generated (that is, the open-access equilibrium). The fishing effort employed at this point exceeds the level that would achieve maximum economic yield, and both profitability and stock biomass would be improved by reducing fishing effort.