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Depressed by fish

by Colman Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 08:10:39 AM EST

The EU fisheries policy always makes me angry: it's insanely stupid, supporting local fishing industries in the short-term while pretty much guaranteeing the destruction of fish stocks in the long-term. The excuse given is that such-and-such a community depends economically on fishing. Well, then they're screwed when the stocks collapse, aren't they?

The basic problem is that there are too many industrial fishermen chasing too few fish.

Icelandic economist Thorvaldur Gylfason suggests a solution on VoxEU:

Technically, it would be a simple matter to fix these flaws. First, the determination of the TACs [Total Allowable Catches - quotas] needs to be taken out of the hands of politicians. This might be done by establishing an Open Market Fisheries Committee that would, for reasons analogous to the logic behind the independent apolitical authority of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee in the United States or the ECB Governing Council, be vested with a broad mandate and broad powers to maximise the long-run profitability of fisheries for the benefit of the sole national owner.2,3 Second, the TACs need to be sold to fishing firms at market price or auctioned off to the highest bidder to ensure that the fishing rights land in the hands of the most efficient fishermen. Third, there needs to be free trade in quotas.
Not the sort of free-market solution I'm normally in favour of, but given how badly messed up the fishing industry is after decades of idiotic subsidies I'm afraid that only some pretty strong medicine is likely to help. Such a policy would need to be coupled with significant compensation in the form of retraining, local development funding and buyouts of boats and industries in order to make it even minimally politically acceptable.

Anyone got a better idea?

Fish for Friday.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 08:47:34 AM EST
If the EU-wide quota gets set at a meaningful level, it will make fresh fish a lot more expensive. It will probably still destroy lots of fishing sector jobs, but maybe in terms of actual money going to the fishing regions it would break even.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 08:50:19 AM EST
Free trade in quotas needs to be limited as it matters where the fish is caught. You could set up a number of regional markets (North Sea, Baltic, Upper North Atlantic, Lower North Atlantic, East Mediterranean, West Mediterranean) and only allow inter-market trading through a gateway mechanism which ensures the total quota for various fish within the region remains constant.

You'd also need to include Norway, Iceland, Russia, and the North African countries.

The EU has experience in quota trading for milk, but for milk it does not really matter where the milk lake grows (or used to grow). Same for CO2 emissions trading, it does not really matter where CO2 is emitted.

It's different for fish, or ambient pollution.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 09:08:30 AM EST
I don't have time to do the research so I'll repeat stuff I have heard.

The US style of fishing quotas has failed - at least along the New England shores. They are depleting everything and seem to be unable to enforce meaningful quotas.

Canada was in a different position along the Grand Banks. That too was fished out, but there was a difference. The local fishermen tried to prevent the overfishing, eventually the scientists joined in. It was the government that did it in. The difference was the presence of foreign (European) factory ships.

Looking at the history of other places - this provided someone to blame - a focus for who is at fault (Perhaps conveniently ignoring the rise in technology and size of Canadian catches.) Currently Canada has some meaningful quotas within the 200 mile limit - i.e. No Cod fishing at all. Outside the 200 mile limit, but within the Grand Banks, no such help is forthcoming from other countries from what I understand.

My mother reported back form a recent trip to Newfoundland - Cod is being served in some restaurants - so the locals are not following fishing quotas.

Your idea of compensation is a delicate balancing act. I wouldn't necessarily rule out politicians. As Canada has seen, it is possible to get them to act too - though in our case "after the horses have been stolen".

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 09:28:07 AM EST
Peak Fish is upon us. Fish can only, and must, become more expensive. The current EU "system" is a mess that will end by destroying what's left of the resource.

But what will Gylfason's proposition do? Place the market in the hands of those who can pay most, called here (in obedience with markety-market theory) the "most efficient", in fact the big fellows with the most capital. This means the elimination by the market of small fishermen, and the consecration of industrial fisheries. We are asked to suppose that control (and market) mechanisms would be sufficient to obtain respect of quotas.

But industrial fishing poses other problems. The destruction of the ecology of the seabed by trawler nets is an obvious one, interrupting the food chain and making it less likely than ever that stocks of many species may be reconstituted. Gylfason addresses the economy of fishing, but not the ecology.

Much stricter regulations on the size of boats and the types of nets need to be applied. That would go against Gylfason's vision of "efficient" "firms" with money, in other words against capitalisation. Let the small guys do the fishing, there'll be less harm done. Fish will be more expensive (and I'm an elitist once again)? Fish is going to be more expensive anyway.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 09:43:43 AM EST
Considering this, that and the other, I see a much simpler solution: Ban fishing of wild fish entirely until populations rebound, then re-introduce small scale fishing. A ban should be much easier to enforce than quotas. Hire some former fishermen to police the seas for illegal fishing. A ban of a few decades or so also kills off the fishing industry. When re-introducing small scale fishing after stocks have rebounded it should be easier to control it, and the methods used, since we don't start off with large industry, up and running, and ready to cheat for a buck.
Allow farmed fish, but with strict regulations of environmental impact.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 10:36:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A ban should be much easier to enforce than quotas.

But not politically.

This is the same old issue - vested interests with a culture of predation and exploitation, which are unwilling to let go until the host is dead.

We need better rhetoric and - as usual - wider media saturation to change the narrative before the problem can be tackled.

There's no point making practical suggestions, no matter how sensible they are, when no one is listening to them.

It's the culture of exploitation - in every possible sense - that has to be changed. It has to be named for it is, and all of its many different manifestations have to be tied together and debunked.

Once that's happened, actual solutions to real problems will become possible. Until then, any realistic planning is going to run into the usual nonsense about markets and industries and economic benefits.

The problems are systemic, and - currently - terminal.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 11:06:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gylfason's suggestion is the flavor of the month in Resource Management.  The underlying premise is the rich and/or well-funded aren't greedy or stupid -- total nonsense, of course.  The answer to dwindling fish stocks is to stop fishing until the fish repopulate.  Depending on the fish and area that could be anywhere from 10 years to never.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 10:36:46 AM EST
The underlying premise is the rich and/or well-funded aren't greedy or stupid -- total nonsense, of course.


Assuming the rich are greedy and stupid, how can policy be modified in a useful direction?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 11:07:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The rich and greedy are a part of the problem in the sense that large scale fish mining tends to be more damaging than small scale fishing. But I'd like to point out a few things:

  • There is a lot of demand for fish. Unlike the demand for bullshit consumer products, I don't think this demand is really to any signficant extent created by industry. There simply is a lot of demand for fish because there are many people, and many people who like fish.
  • For most purposes, fish in the sea and ocean are an open access common pool resource. What we see happening in the sea is simply a tragedy of the commons, played out on a large scale. But it's something that has happened throughout human history.
  • Restricting access to this resource will directly drive up the price, and thus increase the incentive to break the rules. This means enforcement is a central problem for any solution.
  • The best solutions for common pool resource problems are communal: giving the local community a stake in and a means to protect a resource. However, it's difficult to see how that could work on the open sea!
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 12:13:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gylfason, as far as I can see, is trying to change the incentive structure for fishers, which is generally a good approach. Especially with regard to the sidecatch it is important to change the incentive structure, though I haven't completely followed him there (don't understand what he's proposing).

Enforcement is still going to be a huge problem under his proposal, but not any more so than under the current scheme.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 11:33:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One of my soft spots...

on how long-term disaster is .. well forgot int erm of shor-term gain.

solutions? it all depends ont he kind of change you want. probably youc ould try to fix the present system by doing proper research and fixing the quota systems strongly.

the reality is that you would ahve to ban large fisehries so that small fisheries (employment intensive fisheries) woudl survive.

So, if you prefer cheap prices then this option is probablyt he best way to go.

if you look for employment, then you do not need to move to a Federal reserve Style board but reducing the captures and forbidding large ships...

This is one of thsoe situation where the rule of inflation and work are not both possible at the same time.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 10:45:21 AM EST
Phew!  I´m glad there are people with better ideas because if we leave it to an economist and a ´free-market solution´, just this time, we are in deep trouble.

The Spanish fishing sector has been warned long enough and quotas have been cut back, but they are loud and don´t want to change, so I´m closer to banning than wasting more time.  It is also a sector with a ´wild west´ attitude that breaks the rules because there is no enforcement and exploits immigrants.  

Turn industrial fishing boats into affordable housing, with solar panels/windmills, connected in patterns of planks to public transit on land...

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 11:48:11 AM EST
Probably about 6 major things need to happen:

  1. The setting of fish quotas must be made independent of the industry's "economic needs" and based on scientifically established sustainable levels.

  2. The Global fishing industry (outside 200 mile limits) needs to be regulated by UN Treaty because most  fish stock depletion takes place there.  This is where a system of tradeable fishing credits may be of value.

  3. The allocation of quotas within territorial waters can be by market or political mechanisms - depending on local choice - as along as the total quota is set within 1. above.

  4. Given that fishing capacity exceeds available supply of fish, capacity should be regulated by mandating the least destructive forms of fishing

  5.  Enforcement of quotas in international waters needs to be made subject to international law and enforcement - e.g. UN mandated naval force

  6. Enforcement within EU waters should be mandated and controlled at EU level.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 12:41:56 PM EST
Fish meat cultured in vats seems more likely.
by Zwackus on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 09:23:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the less efficient and small scale the fishing boats and nets are, the better a chance for the fishery to recover.
by wu ming on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 01:20:04 PM EST
"Not the sort of free-market solution I'm normally in favour of..."

No wonder this guy keeps deleting my comments!


Qui vit sans folie n'est pas si sage qu'il croit.

by FPS Doug on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 01:51:27 PM EST
sounds fishy to me....

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 02:05:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman wants to "regulate" fishing in a way that bankrupts every independent fisherman in the EU.
Sell licenses to the highest bidder, in the name of "efficiency!"

I see a future of giant robot ships chasing the last fish into the yacht basin at St. Tropez, where Brigitte Bardot blows the whole fleet out of the water with Harpoon missiles.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.com


Qui vit sans folie n'est pas si sage qu'il croit.

by FPS Doug on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 04:46:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yeow!  That belt hurts! Will you hurry up with the shot so I can breath....

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 04:59:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looks like Sanary s/mer. Probably St Trop, though.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 05:03:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you're probably right.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.com

This is Sanary-sur-Mer, around 1942, I guess, when it was full of German writers... Sanary-les-Allemands... even before the picture of Brigitte, which probably dates from around 1960.

Qui vit sans folie n'est pas si sage qu'il croit.

by FPS Doug on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 05:37:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, on one level a lot of coast towns look sort of the same so who knows, but it sorta looked like Notre Dame de la Pitie behind her. Got married real near there.

I know most people were probably looking at her but I never thought much of her, not my type, especially given her politics; go more for the Balasko type myself, call me a prole if you want.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 06:17:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nothing says "prole" like a wedding on the Riviera...

Qui vit sans folie n'est pas si sage qu'il croit.
by FPS Doug on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 08:12:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh. The Riviera ends at Mourillon. Sanary, while nice, is in the industrial "armpit" part. And La Seyne, where I lived, is definitely prole, complete with a good Communist for mayor, the late Maurice Paul.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 09:15:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have had some very good times in those "armpits."

Five years ago I was changing trains in Toulon, and the auvergnat waiter in the station bar noticed my guitar case. What do you play?

One thing led to another, and all of a sudden les auvergnats started coming out of the woodwork! Exiles in Provence, with an informal daily get-together at the station? or maybe it was just a coincidence.

Anyway, somebody taught me the chords for...

"Loin des bruits de la ville,
j'irai jusqu'en Auvergne
Sur les collines couvertes de bruyère..."

I never had as much fun in St. Tropez, much less Nice!

Qui vit sans folie n'est pas si sage qu'il croit.

by FPS Doug on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 10:11:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's more of a "used to" be the industrial armpit :

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Jan 19th, 2008 at 09:13:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]

I'll give it maybe another decade. Waterfront property isn't getting created on the littroal of the medtierranean every day you know, so it is saying something that prime waterfront property will have taken so long to do anything with, and the town suffered for it.

La Seyne is finally redeveloping the shipyards - that took twenty years. The amount of right-wing corruption, Arreckx, Trucy, Scaglia, Valenti, Fargette, most of whom ended up in jail, boggles the mind.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Sun Jan 20th, 2008 at 10:53:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
just read over at liberation.fr that our hyperactive president now wants to lift or re-examine fishing quotas. France is going to preside over EU soon, and this is the kind of vision it wants to promote.

with fishermen getting added subsidies to help them face more expensive fuel, the reality of fish stock depletion is not really going to be faced until it is too late.

the funny part is that Michel Barnier, minister of fishing, did announce about a month ago that the agreement signed on the 19/12 was going to be strictly enforced (especially in the mediterraneen where red tuna is disappearing fast) - now Zebulon (aka NS) promotes a "more flexible" approach.

Le caoutchouc serait un matériau très précieux, n'était son élasticité qui le rend impropre à tant d'usages.- A.Allais
by armadillos (armadillo2024 (at) free (dotto) fr) on Sat Jan 19th, 2008 at 02:58:04 PM EST

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