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Solutions for Overfishing xxxxxxxxxx Science 275 July 11, 2010 xxxxxxxxxx Solutions for Overfishing Many fish populations around the world are declining. Many factors contribute to these declines, among them overfishing. Neubert (2005) says as long as people have fished, they have overfished, and that fishery management always has been controversial. That controversy is not surprising as it can be difficult to balance competing goals—conserve the resources while harvesting as many fish as possible. Although industrial fishing is widely responsible for depletions of fish stock in the oceans, recreational fishing also plays a part. Industrial fishers and recreational anglers have been parts of the problem. They can also contribute to the solution. Murawski (2000) finds an exact definition of overfishing to be elusive. He offers this substitute: ‘‘I shall not today attempt to further define the kind of materials I understand to be within that shorthand definition; and perhaps I could never succeed in doing so . . . but I know it when I see it.’’ Former USA Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, writing on ‘‘obscenity’’ Measuring quantities is not enough. Managing fisheries requires qualitative as well as quantitative measurements to determine whether or not a fishery has been overfished

Recreational Fishing Recreational fishing can contribute to depletion of fish stocks. Where it does not deplete the stocks, it may interfere with recovery. However, several case studies showed success when recreational fishers participated in conservation and management of fisheries. These studies analyzed a diverse set of circumstances: developed countries as well as developing; marine as well as freshwater fishing; tropical regions as well as temperate; and open access as well as closed access fisheries. These studies also explored socioeconomic and ecological contexts. In all circumstances, the studies showed positive results when recreational fishers participated in management and conservation of fisheries (Granek, et al. (2008). In northern Mongolia’s Eg-Uur watershed, recreational fishing has led to overharvesting of the Eurasian giant trout, “taimen” (Hucho taimen). An organization called the Taimen Conservation Fund combats this problem by using revenues raised by recreational fishing. This money is used for a conservation project that provides money and infrastructure to raise opinions of the benefits of protecting the taimen. The Fund also seeks to expedite partnerships of recreational fishers with local communities. The project has faced challenges and has had successes. One success has been the teamwork of scientists, the Fund, and recreational fishers. This teamwork has led to fund raising and improved knowledge of the giant trout’s ecology. It has also shown that local residents can work with scientists and recreational anglers for the conservation, protection, and study of an endangered species (Granek et al., 2008). Beginning in 1997, the Brandenburg (Germany) Angler Association, partnering with fisheries researchers, began a program to reintroduce diadromous salmonids to an Elbe River tributary called the Stepenitz catchment. A team of fishers, water management professionals, and researchers work to raise funds and the Association administers and monitors restoration efforts. Between 1999 and 2007 hundreds of thousands of fish were stocked from genetically similar stocks in other parts of the world. In Stepenitz tributaries, approximately half of migration barriers are gone and 64% of possible spawning habitats are available. This project has had many successes, including greater concern for the environment, and convincing water managers and landowners to permit action on rehabilitation. Again, there is success in preserving fish stocks and habitats when recreational anglers are welcomed in restoration and management efforts (Granek et al., 2008). A decline of rockfish in British Columbia, Canada led a group of recreational anglers to begin planning ways to meet Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) management goals for inshore rockfish. Those goals were to reduce harvest, create no-take protection areas, improve monitoring of catches, and set up a method for assessing stock. The Sport Fishing Advisory Board (SFAB), represented recreational fishers. The Board proposed closed periods and closed areas and reduced bag limits. These measures led to an 81% decrease in recreational rockfish harvest. Here is more successful restoration and management of fish stocks and habitats when recreational fishers participate in those efforts. The fishers learned about the rockfish and its habitat, and the fish benefited, as well (Granek et al, 2008). Recreational fishing can harm fish populations. However, recreational anglers can help repair the damage and boost fish conservation. Their pastime depends on conservation, so they have an interest in good management of resources. Including them in the development of regulations could improve management of fisheries resources (Granek et al, 2008). Commercial Fishing Privatizing any industry is the best way to create jobs and improve economies. It leads to reduced costs, better services, and improved innovation in industries that had been stagnant under government ownership (Edwards, 2009). Private ownership of fisheries will solve the problem of commercial overfishing. Fishermen own only the fish they catch; the government (the people; the public; everyone and no one) owns the stock from which fish are harvested. Public ownership is the cause of overfishing. To cure these problems, remove government ownership and replace it with private ownership. Owners have incentive to conserve. They pay the cost of exploitation as well as reap the gains of preservation. The owners would bear the costs of damage to future catches, so they would have incentive to avoid depletion (Runolfsson, 1999). For coastal fisheries a coastline would be divided into sections. Private owners would exclusively own the fish in their territories. There are two kinds of rights in fisheries: territorial user rights in fisheries (TURFs) and exclusive user rights (EURs). TURFs divide a fishery into geographic territories, each of which would be assigned to a firm or a group of fishers. EURs give a firm or a single fisher the right to a fishery within a nation’s territory. Private ownership leaves no need to regulate fisheries. Owners would have incentive to take care of the coastal fish population. They also would have authority to prevent overfishing (Runolfsson, 1999). Runolfsson (1999) describes one problem with this idea, and suggests a solution. In water, with no obvious property lines, it can be difficult to define boundaries and monitor trespass. This difficulty increases further from the shore. The solutions may be technologies and incentives. Satellite observation may make it possible to assign area rights further away from shore. There may already be some technologies that exist but are no known because there has been no incentive to use them. Edwards (2009) defines privatization as the removal of an activity completely from government books. This allows more innovation and prevents corruption—a serious problem with government contracting. Privatizing works with other industries. It will work with fisheries. I advocated privatization of the fishing industry in a previous paper for this class. I neglected, at the time, to answer some questions in the feedback. I will answer those questions now. What will happen when the fish swim from one territory to another? Nothing will happen. The deer does not belong to the landowner on whose property it lives. While it is there it is fair game for anyone who has the right to hunt there. If it leaves that property it is fair game for other hunters. Likewise, the fish belong to the owner of the territory they are caught. Who would designate ownership of ocean waters? As the definition of EURs indicates, this plan would apply only to territorial waters. A good way to begin designation of these territories would be to sell or auction government-owned fisheries and equipment. Why would the other parties agree to it? This has been the basis of wars in the past, when countries tried to claim ownership. Wars happen when governments dispute ownership of territories and resources. These fisheries would be in territorial waters, already owned by certain nations. There need be no conflict under private ownership. Should economists decide ecological issues? I offer a qualified yes and a rhetorical question—should government contractors or officials decide ecological issues? The people deciding these issues would not necessarily be economists. They would be property owners and entrepreneurs with an inherent—economic--interest in being ecologically friendly. Acheson (1998) discusses a study of lobster fisheries in Maine. Some of these fisheries have had some success with self-regulation, while others seem to have frustration while waiting for legislative action. The actions of these fisheries seem to be a hybrid of the successful partial self-regulation discussed by Granek, et al. (2008) and Edwards’ (2009) (and my) contention that privatization is the key ingredient to success. Acheson (1998) says an important facet of resource management is how people design rules about conserving the resources they exploit for their livelihoods. Humans often overexploit natural resources—as they have most of the world’s major fisheries. Fishers refuse to or cannot set rules to conserve fishing resources that they need. However, Granek, et al. (2008) show that people are not unable, nor are they always unwilling, to self-regulate. All over the world, recreational fishers were willing and able to work with scientists, local governments, and sporting foundations to set conservation rules that would benefit the anglers and the fish and habitats. Acheson (1998) concludes that self-regulation may not work for everyone, which means government is necessary. Granek, et al. (2008) show that partial self-regulation can succeed when individuals, organizations, and local governments cooperate. This works, perhaps grudgingly, with my belief in laissez-faire economics. An economic system should be driven by free markets, not government interference. However, minimal government regulation is acceptable, even necessary. Government should not be directly involved in business. Its role should be as small as possible—only as much regulation as necessary to maintain equal opportunity without influencing outcomes. Overfishing may always have been part of fishing, as Neubert (2005) suggests, but it does not have to remain so—in commercial or recreational fishing. It may be difficult precisely to define overfishing, as Murawski (2000) believes. Knowing it when we see it may be our best guide to identifying the problem, but once we see it we can solve it. The people who have contributed to overfishing are the best people to stop it. Recreational anglers, possessing an interest in protecting their leisure activity, can help to reduce overfishing when they participate in the development of rules and plans to conserve and protect fisheries. Commercial fishers, possessing an interest in protecting their economic well-being, can also help to alleviate overfishing when the industry is privatized and suffers only minimal government involvement. Fish populations do not have to continue to decline because of overfishing. The problem is known, if not easily defined, and the solutions are ready.

Acheson, J. (1998). Lobster trap limits: A solution to a communal action problem. Human Organization, 57(1), 43. Retrieved from Human Resources Abstracts database. chMode=1&sid=1&Fmt=4&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&T S=1278605882&clientId=13118
Fogarty, M.J. & Murawski, S.A. (2005). Do Marine Protected Areas Really Work? Oceanus. Retrieved from
Granek, E., Madin, E., & Brown, M., Figueira, W., Cameron, D., Hogan, Z, et al. (2008). Engaging Recreational Fishers in Management and Conservation: Global Case Studies. Conservation Biology, 22(5), . doi:doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2008.00977.x.
Murawski, S. (2000). Definitions of overfishing from an ecosystem perspective. ICES Journal of Marine Science / Journal du Conseil, 57(3), 649-658. doi:10.1006/jmsc.2000.0738. Neubert, M. (2005). "Can we catch more fish and still preserve the stock? Mathematical analyses offer new insights into age-old controversies on fishing restrictions." Oceanus, 43(2), Retrieved from ontentSet=IAC Documents&type=retrieve&tabID=T002&prodId=ITOF&docId=A133049876&source=gale&sr cprod=ITOF&userGroupName=apollo&version=1.0
Runolfsson, B. (1999). Establishing Private Ownership of Fishing Rights Can Promote Sustainable Fishing. Opposing Viewpoints: Endangered Oceans, (), Retrieved from contentSet=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabID=T010&prodId=OVRC&docId=EJ3010130222 &source=gale&srcprod=OVRC&userGroupName=uphoenix&version=1.0

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