Brad Gentner: It’s time to rethink ‘catch shares’

Catch shares in marine fisheries is a concept unfamiliar to most people, and it is probably completely alien to most hunters and anglers in this country. It is a system of wildlife management that bestows some percentage of a public marine resource, like red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, to private businesses for free, to use and sell for their own profit. It was thought that by giving away ownership rights to individuals, the fishery would consolidate and ultimately become easier to manage. While the same number of fish would be caught, the benefits of funneling access to the resource through fewer entities was thought to remove some of the uncertainty in the industry and thus would be worth the price of privatizing a public resource for free. While catch shares are still the darling of some fisheries economists, there is a growing backlash against this management tool worldwide for a variety of reasons. At the heart of these complaints is fleet and wealth consolidation, extraction of public wealth for private profit, and failure to capitalize share-cost into production costs. click here to read the op-ed 21:46