Monday, July 7, 2008

Fisheries commons

The April 2007 issue of National Geographic on the global fisheries crisis was informative and as usual had great photographs. Is there a solution to the commons problem?
1. Demonstration effects of overfishing - The accompanying story on the collapse of the cod industry did not make an example for the rest of the fishing industry. In fact, the enforcement of quotas which resulted in the return of cod seemed to reinforce the impression on some fisherman that the cod industry had been revived and they should be allowed to fish again.
2. The other story on New Zealand's marine reserves and how they can cause positive spillovers by allowing other fishes to thrive again only served to increase the perception that there is no crisis.
3. Quotas on fishing fleet and catch need to be enforced and can be circumvented.
4. It seems that the following conclusion might well be the only one (albeit not a very convincing solution):
But all agree that the fundamental reform that must precede all others is not a change in regulations but a change in people's minds. The world must begin viewing the creatures that inhabit the sea much as it looks at wildlife on land. Only when fish are seen as wild things deserving of protection, only when the Mediterranean bluefin is thought to be as magnificent as the Alaska grizzly or the African leopard, will depletion of the world's oceans come to an end.
Unfortunately, few of us get to experience the ocean depths as easily someone can take an African safari. A glass bottomed boat ride is not like being able to take a tour of the depths of the ocean.

No comments: