The recent violence in Nova Scotia over lobster fishing has raised an unresolved legal issue: do the Mi’kmaq have a 1760s treaty right to fish for lobster out of season, and if so, for how large a catch? What the Supreme Court actually said about these questions is not exactly what you may have heard. Continue reading
In the last year, we have witnessed an unprecedented roll-back of environmental regulation across Canada. Federal and provincial governments alike have reduced their oversight of polluting industries and weakened citizens’ rights to protect themselves and their environment. The systematic weakening of environmental regulation has created a vacuum that needs to be filled. But we don’t simply need new regulations. We need a better process – one that returns environmental protection to affected citizens. Continue reading
Environment Probe turned 20 this year. To our surprise and delight, we also learned this year that our foundation maintains Canada’s most popular environmental web site. The reason, we suspect, is that the public doesn’t like top-down environmentalism, and we have the field of community-based, market-oriented environmentalism pretty well to ourselves.
In this presentation to Property Rights and the Environment, a student colloquium held in Vancouver in July 2009, Elizabeth Brubaker explains that property rights provide incentives to conserve scarce resources, such as water and fish.
William Forster Lloyd is not exactly a household name in St. John’s, but perhaps he should be. One hundred and seventy years ago, he introduced the notion known to economists as the "tragedy of the commons." In a 1833 book on population, the English mathematician observed that, if everyone had free access to a common resource, that resource would soon be exhausted.
After decades of mercilessly laying waste to the East Coast cod fisheries, the federal government is poised to shut them down. The government has no choice: There is nothing left to plunder. It didn’t have to end like this.
Earlier this year, several days after a lengthy interview with a writer for a weekly news magazine, I received a puzzled e-mail. "How would you describe yourself politically?" the writer asked. "Do you lean towards the left or the right?"
Six detailed case studies make up the balance of Political Environmentalism. Contributors Dean Lueck, Andrew Morris, Thomas Stratmann, Elizabeth Brubaker, David Gerard, Kurtis Swope, and Daniel Benjamin examine everything from the manipulation of hazardous-waste cleanup funds to the politics of wilderness designations.
A speech prepared for Property Rights, Economics & Environment: Marine Resources, an international conference organised by the Centre d’Analyse Economique and The International Centre for Research on Environmental Issues. The conference took place in Aix-en-Provence, France, on June 21-23, 2000.
By any reasonable measure the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy, the sickly sibling of its ailing Common Agricultural Policy, has failed. Created in 1971 to increase productivity, promote technical progress, open up access for European fishermen to all Community fishing grounds and "promote a fair standard of living" for fisherman, the CFP has netted the opposite result: Too many fishermen chase too few fish, fishing villages are as poor as inner-city slums, and competition from overseas markets is increasing due to technological advances in fish storage and shipping.
It appears that by opening the waters to the public, Opération Déclubage has caused, at least partly, the general decline in the quality of fishing in the province of Québec. This paper is an attempt to demonstrate that leaving the waters to the care of unaccountable managers leads to a decline in fish stocks, and that a clear system of private property rights is better suited to ensuring resource conservation – not just in Quebec but everywhere the opportunity exists for private river stewards to improve fisheries management.
A chapter from Political Environmentalism: Going behind the Green Curtain, a collection of essays edited by Terry Anderson exploring the ways in which politics and environmentalism mix to produce perverse results. In this chapter, Elizabeth Brubaker documents the ways in which politicians, pursuing their short-term interest in putting voters to work, subsidized the expansion of the cod fishery and set catch levels exceeding those recommended by their own scientists.
I’m feeling a little nostalgic. It’s the tenth anniversary of Environment Probe’s founding, and as I look back over my time here, I find my mind wanders less to the small victories we’ve had from time to time, and more to the rewarding comments I’ve received from supporters over the years, comments that touched and inspired me and led me to squirrel them away in a special file. I’d like to share several of them with you.
On July 2, 1992, Canada’s fisheries minister banned cod fishing off the northeast coast of Newfoundland and off the southern half of Labrador. The northern cod stock, once one of the richest in the world, had collapsed. The moratorium on northern cod marked an unprecedented disaster for virtually all of Canada’s Atlantic groundfisheries – the fisheries for species that feed near the ocean floor.
Politics – not science – drives far too many decisions at the government department in charge of Canada’s fisheries. The extent to which the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has become politicized, and the tragic results, have been made frighteningly clear over the course of the past year.
This summer, we received a letter from an Australian lobster fisher. He had just met a Canadian fisher, who had given him a photocopy of an Environment Probe chapter from a book about the crisis in our Atlantic fisheries. Excited about our ideas, he invited us to speak at a conference of fishers, fisheries managers, and scientists from Australia and New Zealand.
The keynote address to the Tri-State Rock Lobster Industry Conference, held in Adelaide, Australia, on September 8, 1997. In it, Elizabeth Brubaker argues that governments should put control over fisheries into the hands of fishers. She examines the political pressures and bureaucratic structures that deprive government managers of the incentives and tools necessary to make sustainable decisions. She calls for systems of self-managed ownership that remove decisions about catches and habitat from the political arena.
How do fishermen behave? When holding clear rights, do they exploit fisheries recklessly or manage them sustainably? Can we trust them? Such questions are at the heart of the debate over the wisdom of establishing property rights in fish.
How do fishers behave? When holding clear rights, do they exploit fisheries recklessly or manage them sustainably? Can we trust them?
In an article in the Ottawa Citizen, David Lavigne takes issue with Environment Probe’s proposal to establish property rights in fisheries. Continue reading