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?