The Corner

Re: No to Endangered Whale Sushi! Yes to Privatizing the Oceans!

Vero, I don’t know quite how to say this, but that video, good as it is, doesn’t go nearly far enough and comes off as a tad, well, statist.

First off: Catch shares, while a step forward from the way we do things now (and certainly better than the EU’s Common Fisheries Program, which seems purposely designed to eradicate fisheries), are not the best fisheries-management scheme out there. Indeed, they can go down the road that taxi medallions went down and become a government-enforced privilege. Instead, it’s better to use New Zealand–style individual tradable quotas (ITQs), which, while still originated by government, have evolved to something much more closely approximating a genuine property right.

Secondly, the deep-sea fisheries that are collapsing all over the world – the single biggest environmental crisis we are facing now, in my opinion – can be saved by a simple end to government subsidies of the fishing fleets. High-seas fleets simply would  not be economical without these subsidies, which have made the combined fleets of the world 250 percent larger than they would be in a free market. A WTO agreement to end these subsidies would be a very simple, effective free-market solution to stop degradation of the current stocks. Genuine oceanic property rights in the initial form of ITQs could then help repair and regrow the damaged fisheries.

Genuine free-market environmentalism (FME) thereby provides the simplest and best solution to the problem the video describes. Yet the activists featured in the video probably haven’t even heard of FME.  We have to change this.

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