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Who should have the right to catch fish?

January 24, 2012

There’s a video up on British fish quotas on The Guardian’s website.  Honestly, I think this is a great example of why we are not having a constructive dialogue on catch shares.  Two gripes here.

First, the video sets up that the fishing was ‘sustainable’ with an interview, but provides no scientific discussion.  Given the ubiquitous overcapacity problem in fisheries and advances in fishing technology, I’ll wager that catch restrictions were implemented in response to over-fishing.

Second, the video discusses the allocation issue haphazardly. Reducing the allowable catch means that someone will lose out, whether it is open access or catch shares are used.  That’s how it works.  Someone, somewhere, will have to fish less or not at all.  They clearly interview the losers of the catch share regime, but not the winners.  They do not substantiate that the big operators have any less of a connection to the historical fishery or that they rigged the allocation of the catch quotas.  And they do not discuss whether the catch allocations have been increasing due to stock rebuildling (assuming this was needed).

The only good thing is that points out the need to consider the environmental impacts of big and small operators and give preferential treatment to those operators that run cleaner operations.

One Comment leave one →
  1. jack permalink
    January 24, 2012 10:43 am

    It may lack the data, but it’s a fairly accurate portrayal of the situation. This is part of Hugh FW’s Fish Fight campaign, which has done a lot to bring CFP reform into the mainstream media. From a campaigns point of view, it’s aligning itself with the under ten fleet, who, by and large fish in much less environmentally damaging ways when compared to large trawlers. In so doing, it vilifies the big trawlers. It’s a classic David and Goliath approach, but one that is bang on in this case.

    It is the large corporate fishing interests that lobby in parliament and at the EU level to ensure larger quotas, thereby contributing to overfishing. Often they receive vast subsidies, without which, their fuel hungry, wasteful operations would not be economically viable.

    The under tens have very little political clout and get a bum deal, despite providing the majority of jobs and a more sustainable model for fishing. They also receive next to nothing in terms of subsidies.

    What we need to see is the transfer of a larger proportion of the total quota to these artisanal fishers. Their fishing power is much smaller than the larger operators. By rewarding smaller outfits, using more sustainable techniques, with larger shares of the quota and removing subsidies from vast, environmentally harmful operators, we will see the industry balance out more. Ultimately providing more jobs and more fish.

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