Proposed rule “repeats fishery management failures” Published: 01 October, 2007
US body Food & Water Watch has submitted comments to the US National Marine Fisheries Service on an experimental, market-based form of commercial fishing regulations that have been shown to eliminate fishing jobs, degrade ecosystems and hand over ownership of public resources to corporate interests.
The regulations, known as limited access privilege programmes (LAPPs), frequently operate by allocating portions of a fishery’s annual catch to individuals and companies in the form of individual fishing quotas (IFQs), which can be bought, sold, auctioned and leased. By allowing quotas to be exchanged in this way, access to the fishery is essentially privatised.
Numerous reports have documented the disastrous impacts of IFQs in Alaska, Canada and elsewhere.
“IFQs have done a poor job of achieving their goals, and public access has gotten smaller and smaller,” says Terry Haines of the Crewmen’s Association of Kodiak, Alaska and Fish Heads, a community-based fisheries organisation. “All the problems with LAPPs stem from giving ownership of a public resource.”
In their letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service, Food & Water Watch insisted that any changes to commercial fishing regulations must:
. Prevent the privatisation of a public resource by ensuring that fishing privileges are revocable without a right of compensation;
. Promote more ecologically-friendly fishing gear, such as hook and line;
. Prevent excessive consolidation of fishing privileges in the hands of individuals or companies by establishing clear limits on industry control of quotas;
. Fairly allocate fishing privileges among participants;
. Keep fishing privileges in the hands of active fishermen;
. Support new entrants to a fishery; and
. Include a multi-species management approach.
As scientific understanding of ocean resources improves, more effective methods of management are expected to emerge, such as considering the ecosystem as a whole unit and ensuring that regulations to protect and conserve some resources do not negatively impact others.
“Fisheries management that is rooted in community control has shown great promise,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch.
“We need to find better management alternatives, not give corporations total control of our fisheries.”