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Symposium 2009

Proposal - Managing Marine Resources - Proposed Solutions

The Challenge

Three quarters of the global marine fish stock are deemed fully exploited oroverfished. Declining or collapsing fish stocks imply not just the loss of economic benefits but also the loss of liveliho ...

Three quarters of the global marine fish stock are deemed fully exploited oroverfished. Declining or collapsing fish stocks imply not just the loss of economic benefits but also the loss of livelihood for many people in developing countries. The global challenge is to come up with management approaches to sustain global fish stocks in the future without withdrawing the basic food for developing countries in the present.

1. Adjust and reduce subsidies for the fishery industry

Governments and in particular the EU have to adjust and reduce subsidies so that the fishing fleets become efficient with respect to the total costs (e.g. marine diesel).

The worldwide fishing fleets are to large. Even with stable fish stocks, the annually technological development of fishing equipment would require to scrap boats in order to obtain a sustainable industry. However, the opposite takes place. Subsidies, and in particular subsidies for marine diesel, has sponsored the usage of better engines, improved hull designs, more efficient nets and electronic gadgets, which leads the today’s fishing fleet straight and much faster to the fish. And it results in a lock-in effect for the fishermen. Decades of falling catches have induced them to travel farther to fill their holds whereby the availability of subsidies allowed them to equip their boats for the run on the remaining fishes and did prevent the consolidation of this industry.


2. Increase the share of ITQs and sustainable management system in worldwide fisheries.

Overcome the common property right by allocating individual property rights so that the incentives change and the fishermen become stewards and policemen of the resource.

Today only 121 of the world’s 10000 fisheries contain ITQs. The study by Costello, Gaines and Lynham (2008) shows that the introduction of ITQs halted the collapse of fisheries and halves the chances of a collapsing. Increasing the share of ITQs requires the development of appropriate mechanisms for the initial allocation of ITQs which should be done by independent allocation panels. Additionally, other sustainable allocations of property rights should be used, like a spatial approach which allocates fishing spots to fishermen. The best choice of the management system has to rely on the value and the underlying biology of the fishery.

 

3. Prohibition of fishing in international waters by appropriately changes of the law of the sea.

Due to incentive problems within management systems for international waters, fishing should be completely prohibited here.

Management systems and in particular ICQs systems are hard to implement in international waters because it is to easy to cheat. However, regarding the fact, that 90% of the world’s fish are caught in national waters, this action might not be so hard as it sounds.

 

4. Direct demand towards sustainable caught fish

Include the consumers and retailers by labelling sustainable caught fish.

Overfishing is not just characterized by an overall too large amount of landed fish, but as well by catching too small fishes (baby fishes) and catching without sufficient consideration of bycatch. Consequently, increasing the information and by that the awareness of the problem at the consumer and retailer side, does not just allow to direct demand towards fish species which stocks are not yet overexploited but it also allows to direct demand towards sustainable caught fish with a minimum size. Consequently, labelling sustainable caught fish (e.g. MSC label) is key element of an information strategy for the consumer and retailer side.

 

5. Extend sustainable farming of non-predatory fish

Extending farming of fish is controversially because the feeding of predatory fish with fish meal does not solve the problem of overfishing. Additionally, the use of antibiotic and hormone residues is a problem for consumer healthiness and for the marine ecology around the farms. However, regarding the increasing worldwide increase demand for food and in particular for high-protein food with low-carbon emissions in production requires the inclusion of fish in the world wide menu. Consequently, sustainable farming of non-predatory fish should be extended, including labelling with respect to food safety and with respect to the marine ecology.

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