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No Fishing

by on February 1, 2013

No Fishing

The part of the environment that I am interested here in New England (and am tempted to do long term research on is) the fisheries/fishing industry. I’ve been reading a lot on it lately and it is fascinating. This is interesting because it is a hundred year old problem that seems to get worse every year.

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  1. The fisheries in New England are a classic Tragedy of the Commons problem. The benefit of a Tragedy of the Commons environmental problem is that those committing the the environmental degradation, also have an incentive to fix the problem. Like the fisherman in the video said, all of those working in the fishing industry want the problem to be fixed, they do not want to eliminate the cod population on the cape. I found it interesting that the fisherman being interviewed said that last year he had the best year ever in terms of the amount of fish caught, I think that shows that up until this point, even with the small amounts of regulation the state had, it was not enough and now fisherman are paying for it.
    The legislators seems to only discussed limiting the number of fish being caught, but it may also be interesting to consider raising the price of cod for the market to include the cost of environmental degradation. Cod is usually a fairly cheap fish, the market may not be reflecting the actual cost when including the environmental externalities. If the market price of cod is raised in addition to limiting the number of fish caught, the fisherman may be able to continue their businesses without needing to eliminating the fish population or losing their business.

  2. tomkohlhauff permalink

    I agree with Vivian that this is a “classic Tragedy of the Commons problem”. It is unfortunate that there may be cuts up to 80% of the quota being able to get caught, however they can’t just completely fish out the species. It seems to be a lose lose situation because if you cut the quotas, many people are out of jobs, but if they don’t cut the quotas, Cod have been depleted so greatly that the species might become extinct. The legislators understand the magnitude of cutting the quotas, but it must be done. Unfortunately, the market price for Cod will raise, however fortunately it is already a cheap fish.
    Coming from Florida, I can relate to the fisheries being over-fished. It hurts that part of the economy in that area greatly and many areas feel the effect. This isn’t the same field, but when there is a freeze in Florida, and many of the crops freeze and die, and the market feels an immediate effect. Just this past winter break, there was a freeze and most of the pepper crop had been ruined and there was an immediate raise in price for peppers in the supermarkets the next day.
    Returning back to the cod crisis, the cod will replenish themselves overtime, however due to the years and years of being over-fished, the fish have reached a breaking point and need time to replenish themselves. There will be consequences by reducing the cod catch but it is a necessary reduction to make.

  3. This “classic Tragedy of the Commons problem” impacts the planet on so many levels. Cod are going extinct because legislators did not implement appropriate regulations to reduce overfishing. While it may be difficult to predict the perfect fish quota to maintain a healthy environment, one season of overfishing takes years to restore the cod population. This becomes an issue for fishers because they cannot earn a comfortable living. Many fishers are trapped in their profession because many of them do not have a college education. Their boats are expensive to maintain and fishing is their largest source of income. If legislators limited the number of fish caught as a preventative strategy instead of a cure, fishermen would have experienced a minimal decrease in income. As Vivian mentioned, until the cod population replenishes, legislators should increase the price of cod to help stabilize the fish market.

  4. becarr13 permalink

    I came across an article in the NY Times called “Fish Populations in the United States Rebound” that might be of interest. In 1996 a law called Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act” was created to set a 10-year target for rebuilding each species. The article discusses some of the successes of this law and what it has been able to achieve. Here in the link to the article:

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