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October 24th, 2012

Catch Shares Ideology is a One-Way Street in the Wrong Direction

the fight over fish quotaBy Meredith Moore

Social media isn’t always as social as we’d like it to be. We recently noticed a blog by Environmental Defense Fund’s Matt Rand about catch shares. We decided to engage EDF in a brief exchange by posting a response to the blog in the comments section. Unfortunately, it looks like EDF disabled the comments section. Is this a sign that they aren’t open to feedback regarding their position on catch shares?

This is actually typical of the conversation about catch shares in the U.S. Rather than engage with fishermen, time and again we see special interests and regulators tell fishermen how much better off they’ll be under catch shares, and ignore fishermen when they say how much they are suffering. In that sense, catch shares is primarily a one-way street, just like the blog from our friends at EDF. But we have good reason to oppose this fishery management catastrophe. So here’s what we would have posted, had the comments section remained open…

Catch shares are a fishery privatization scheme that promises increased economic efficiency but delivers it at the cost of fishermen’s jobs. These programs are inherently intended to reduce the number of fishermen who can access a public resource. Suggesting they are good for fishing families is laughable. Accumulation limits are a stop-gap measure to limit the extreme consolidation that takes place when catch shares programs are implemented. They are absolutely necessary to have in a catch shares program to protect our fishermen and their communities’ well-being, but a better solution is to retain control of the resource in the public sector and administer it fairly, instead of creating private markets that destroy traditional fishing opportunities.

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