Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Over fishing

Over fishing - Cliff Brown

I saw this article on October 18, 2006 of the Environment News Service (ENS) website. Author un-disclosed.

The issue is pertaining primarily to the over fishing of Cod in the North Sea, but also mentions other fish such as North Sea Plaice, North Sea Sole, Blue Whiting, North Sea Sand Eel and Anchovy in the Bay of Biscay. Clearly all of these species would be considered Open Access Fisheries. The problem lies in the EU allowing fishing levels greater than what the Advisory Committee on Fishery Management (ACFM), which consists of 22 international scientists, had proposed.

We would certainly expect that this type of over fishing would occur due to the lack of an authoritative body to oversee many countries sharing a water body. Although the article does state that the committee recommends the fishing levels should be reduced. For example: “The capture rate for North Sea sole is “not sustainable,” the committee said, and should be cut from 17,670 tons to 10,800 tons”. However, we are not given any indication of how this is to be enforced. One could speculate that the EU has jurisdiction over all these waters and could implement the necessary regulations and perhaps would be successful in enforcing them – but I doubt it since they have not heeded the suggestions of the committee (maybe there is too much politics present)

However, there has been success in reducing the catch size of some species.
“Major cod stocks in northern areas, such as the Barents Sea and around Iceland, are large and productive and several other species appear to be rebounding.” And “The Norwegian spring spawning herring stock is at a high level due to a rational exploration strategy.”

It seems plausible that these successes have come about because of the lack of a serious competitor in these waters, and it is worth noting that these two countries are not members of the EU. With the exception of Greenland and possibly the UK, there is no other country that shares a coastline of these waters. In effect, this would negate the open access fishery argument and the local country essentially has absolute control over the fishing quantities.

The conclusion to this is again that over fishing in open access waters is occurring and nobody thus far has devised a solution. Perhaps the power of the EU will reverse this notion. We shall see.

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