Mitt Romney Blames Regulation for Fishermen's Woes, Ignores Overfishing Entirely

Robert H Goun/CC BY 2.0

Speaking of the limiting economic factor being resources not capital, and Herman Daly's example of in the case of fishing the limiting factor is the fish in the sea not boats: Mitt Romney apparently just doesn't get it.

As ThinkProgress just pointed out, at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Romney blamed fishermen's woes on over-regulation:

It's a tough time to be in the fishing business in America. Not just in that industry, but in many industries, Small business has really felt like it's been under attack over the last several years. [...] Across America regulators are just multiplying like proverbial rabbits and making it harder for enterprises to grow and to understand what their future might be.

ThinkProgress reminds us that just 0.3% of layoffs across the US are actually due to regulations, and goes on to highlight how Romney himself set up a fisheries management program in Massachusetts, concepts from which the Obama administration has used.

The reason the New England fishing industry has faced financial hardship in recent years has little to do with regulation. Regardless of what regulatory structure fishermen operate under, the New England groundfishery — which once seemed limitless — is struggling to recover from decades of overfishing. We cannot legislate or regulate fish into existence so fishermen can catch them. We can either put in place an efficient regulatory structure to pro-actively address the problem, or we can react to the problem afterward with more stringent rules. In this case, new rules had to be put in place due to an overfishing crisis in New England.

TreeHugger has covered how good fisheries management can respond to overfishing and at minimum stabilize a fishery (check out the links at left), but the underlying issue here are fundamentally changed underlying environmental conditions, that few people (foremost either politicians or fishermen blaming regulations) recognize.

There are two broad options: Either accept that changed underlying environmental state, one of lower levels of natural resources (as in, fewer fish), and accept that fewer people will be able to be fishermen, or continue to blame regulation for supposedly and erroneously putting people out of work and destroy any change of anyone being a fisherman in the future.

Tags: Fish | Fishing | Mitt Romney