OPINION: Catch shares offer solution to dwindling fish stocks
This week the New England Fishery Management Council adopted new catch reductions for groundfish. These new regulations, aimed at revitalizing local fisheries in a sustainable manner without the use of subsidies and heavy-handed Washington, D.C. management, are made by the local councils using the best information that they have.
Catch shares are a free market solution that allows individuals and companies to own the property rights to their own stake of the total amount of fish allowed to be fished per year. Instead of forcing fisherman to become reliant on the "generosity" of the politically connected in Washington, which arbitrarily hands out subsidies to some while denying them to others, catch shares restores power to those working on the seas. Fisherman decide when to fish, when to sell, or even transfer their shares to others.
Most importantly, catch shares eliminate regulations which promote the tragedy of the commons, a situation where fishermen are in a race to catch as many fish as they can during a short fishing season, exacerbating the problem of dwindling resources. By switching over to a system of catch share management, fishermen have a stake in increasing the health of the beds they fish. As their bed stocks increase, so does their livelihood.
Catch shares are the best solution to the problem of dwindling fish stocks. They provide for more stable consumer prices, prevent overfishing, empower fishermen, and reduce inefficient government regulation.