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.
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?
This paper, by Evadne Liuson, reviews the agencies and instruments regulating recreational, Aboriginal, and commercial fishing on the Canadian Great Lakes, with a focus on the Individual Transferable Quotas governing Ontario’s commercial fisheries. Continue reading
Presentation to Managing a Wasting Resource: Would Quotas Solve the Problems Facing the West Coast Salmon Fishery?, a conference held in Vancouver, BC, in May 1996.
A chapter from Fish or Cut Bait! The Case for Individual Transferable Quotas in the Salmon Fishery of British Columbia, a collection of essays edited by Laura Jones and Michael Walker discussing tradeable fishing rights and their role in solving the West Coast salmon crisis. This chapter, by Elizabeth Brubaker, documents a century of mismanagement of the Pacific salmon fishery and analyses governments’ incentives to encourage the overfishing and pollution that threaten stocks. It examines alternative regimes that give fisheries owners both the reasons and the authority to conserve stocks and to protect the habitat on which they depend, and suggests that quotas are only the first step in the evolution of stronger property rights to protect and conserve fisheries.
What do the Derwent anglers club in England, some New Brunswick riparians, a number of Quebec fishing clubs and many New Zealand fishermen have in common? They all have established property rights to the fish they catch.
I should feel honoured that my article on the environmental benefits of private and communal resource ownership inspired not just one but four columns from a prominent environmentalist. Unfortunately, Janice Harvey’s retorts, riddled with fallacies, do no honour to the environmental cause.
f the landlubbers in the reading audience will indulge me for another column, I will elaborate a bit further on conserving fish stocks through privatizing marine fish quotas. The primary mechanism for this is assigning individual transferable quotas (ITQs). We only have to look at Canadian experience with ITQs to know it will not work.
As I sit down to write this third column on the topic which I (but not the headline writers) call "The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons," I am acutely aware of being steamrolled by the current daily run of articles advocating an opposite editorial point of view.
Last week, this paper ran a full page commentary by Elizabeth Brubaker, executive director of a group called Environment Probe in Toronto. Like its parent Energy Probe, Environment Probe advocates market-based solutions, including private property rights, to critical problems facing our society. Sometimes they’re right, like in their analysis of nuclear power, which they oppose. On all counts, if the private sector were left to build nuclear plants, we wouldn’t have any.