Who owns the fish?

“We’ve been frozen out,” said Collins, who docks near the Golden Gate Bridge. “This system has given it all to the big guys.” More and more wild-caught fish species and fishing territories in the United States are managed under catch shares, which work by providing harvesting or access rights to fishermen. These rights – worth tens of billions of dollars in the United States alone – are translated into a percentage, or share, that can then be divided, traded, sold, bought or leveraged for financing, just like any asset. Catch shares have been backed by an alliance of conservative, free-market advocates and environmental groups, some of which have financed scientific studies promoting the merits of the system, the Center for Investigative Reporting has found. continued

2 Responses to Who owns the fish?

  1. Topmost problem = the USA does not OWN the fish, it has Stewardship rights and responsibilities, which are to be met by the regulatory frameworks. The nation does not own the fish, and has no right to give it away as property rights.

    Proponents of Catch Shares are not free market advocates. They are advocates of using public relations language to call the ownership system “market-based solutions.” That is a cooked up economic mishmash. The doublespeak of saying Catch Shares offer exclusive access quickly belies the fact that this is anything but free market.

    CSs do not bring economic efficiency – as the definition of EE is consumer oriented and quality and product form determined, as to which combination of end products from what quality of limited quantity inputs (bundle of resources – total allowable catch) will bring the best combination of economic wealth and needs satisfactions. What EDF really means and CSs really go for is productive efficiency or cost cutting, which means job cutting, less investment in fishing vessels, and consolidation.

    The CSs in Alaska are said to go to “harvesters” – but that should mean those who harvest, those who fish – i.e. the active participants, mainly captains and crewmen, not non-participants. CSs were sold on “an overcapitalized industry” but in truth the system of Asset Commodification and the Privatization into Quota Shares attracted billions of dollars of new capital, overcapitalizing a once privileged-based public fishery, in favor of the new carpetbagging bankster and private equity/hedge fund investor who never brought a single pound of fish across the rail.

    The Magnuson-Stevens Act etc. – our nations Fishery Laws – have no definitions for “fishermen”, “harvesters”, etc., let alone for something euphemistically called “catch shares”. It is NOT sharing, it is anti-free market, restraint of trade, government sponsored monopolization – akin to socialist stronghold theories of industrial planning and control. Prices are no longer determined at arm’s length. Suppliers – fishermen – lose their bargaining power for ex-vessel prices when the buyers (like Japan’s, Korea’s and other transnational firms) hold “processor quotas” that fishermen quotas must match up to.

    Reauthorization of MSA should foremost concentrate on good definitions. Regional fishery management councils should be made by the Secretary of Commerce and Congress to follow the Due Process of using Lay Share laws, complying with those statutes, first – so captains and crews maintain their historical shares.

    But, top line and bottom line – the USA does not OWN the fish!! and if we do, it is a public resources. We cannot give away what we do not own. Shades of when the British tried to industrialize and privatize salt in India and met Ghandi’s satyagraha fight for the rights of the people to the commons’ wealth of resources.

    Worst of all is Alaska’s fisheries which serve foreign interests over domestic ones, violate World Trade Agreement and other treaty rights, by allowing Japan-based and Korea-based etc. MNEs (multinational enterprises) to lie and cheat about the export values, pay little to no USA taxes, product launder the profits offshore, even free from foreign taxes usually. This is an Economic Treason, and resource exploitation warfare against the USA – and that is where the legal battle and Congressional powers must work to eliminate these illicit practices and the CS regimes.

    Congress (and Alaska’s chief legislators and governor) knows all about the ABUSIVE TRANSFER PRICING and the global tax evasion crimes, and must begin to stop these illicit schemes in fisheries, timber and other resources. Alaska waters have already seen an estimated $50 billion loss since the passage of the FCMA in 1976. For other regions of the nation to follow the quota regime privatization is tragically wrong, too.

    Groundswell Fishery Movement – Stephen Taufen

  2. william skrobacz says:

    catch shares in the northeast are the biggest ripoff that ever came down the pike! after the council destroyed the industry by dividing up your catch from 1996-2006,then divide by 10 left us reeling in. one of those years codfish limits were 35pounds! per day. then reduce what ever scraps you got by 78%(cod). now you can catch cod ,if you can afford $2 per# .to lease it tru your sector that charges a fee per landed # a fee to the coalition too. after expences who in the hell would go fishing??? as i keep saying,our new warm&fuzzy transparent administration must love us poor fishermen,because he keeps making them.over n out

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