Thursday, July 24, 2008

More on Seine ITQ's

When you Google 'ITQ's' get alot of information....too much really, so I've tried to distill some Canadian experiences. Most of this feedback or comment comes from a Parliamentary Hearing of a Sub-Committee on Fisheries in 1998.

Here's some of the advantages put forth by ITQ proponents:
-security of access to the resource;
-the elimination of the derby-style, "race to the fish";
-longer work seasons and more effective co-ordination of supply with market demand;
-the reduced need for government regulation.
-potential for better quality product ( fish handled better with more time to do so)

Some of the disadvantages put forth by ITQ critics:
-'privatisation' of the 'common' property of the fish resource
-creates 'armchair' fishermen who lease quota to others
-no benefit to smaller, independant fishermen
-gradual migration of quota/licenses to well financed operators
-or gradual migration or concentration of quota/licences to large processor companies, who by financing fishermen to buy more quota, end up controlling the whole supply chain from capture to purchase

Obviously, this is a bare minimum description of a fairly complex management issue. But, the aspects that would be of interest in the Skeena application would be;
a)-the elimination of the 'race to fish': this would really help in selective fishing....fishers could slow down and do a good job releasing non-target fish.
-slowing down and handling the target species with greater care would also generate higher product value...beneficial to the fisherman

b.)-the reduced need for government regulation I dont really understand. As the description and rules of this ITQ Test Fishery are complex and lengthy...somehow I dont see that lessening 'government regulation'
c.)-and since compliance is a key issue in the success of this fishery observers will be required to make sure the rules are adhered to
( no offence to commercial fishermen, but their compliance track record isnt exactly worthy of full trust at the moment is it?)

d.)-what's listed as a negative in the Hearing quotes above, 'the gradual concentration of licenses/quota' is in the Skeena situation probably a good thing. This would slowly take care of over-capacity in the fleet. I would assume we dont require 107 seiners on north coast to catch the allotment and some rationalization is required.

e.)-the 'privatisation of a common resource' is a complex issue within the ITQ issue. We'll have to research that one quite a bit more prior to making comment
So, we'll see how this seine ITQ fishery plays out in performance and compliance and whether the fishermen themselves think it worked or not. There should be alot of interest in keeping it going, as I believe it was close to unanimous to give it a try.
Lastly, the most telling aspect of all this is that DFO can organize a Test Fishery that involves benefit to them and to fishers quite readily....But, their attempts to design Test Fisheries around selective fishing methods which would benefit fish is seriously lacking. How many years have DFO had to test out say, tangle-tooth nets for gillnetters? Moreover, why would you need a big fancy ITQ Test Fishery in order to give seiners more time to fish and carefully handle their catch and by-catch? Just make the openings longer and monitor catches and compliance...and voila....this could of been done years ago...
Seems too simple, I guess.

1 comment:

Paul Holden said...

The criticism of ITQs because of the "privatization of a common resource" is really not sensible. If nobody owns the resource, everybody abuses it. It is the well known "tragedy of the commons". This is a term that arose from the overgrazing of common land in Britain during the 18th century. If the resource is "common", it is in no individual's interest to conserve because others can take advantage of the conservation to get more for themselves. The reason that fish are disappearing in the "common" oceans is that nobody owns any rights to them, so that they can be caught at will. There is no incentive for anyone fishing to show restraint and leave surplus fish for the next ship to catch. The incentive for any one individual runs counter to the interests of everybody.