USA Only Nation With Legal Definition Of Overfishing And Political Will To Enforce Quotas...For Now.

fish fry photo

Fish fry. Image credit:Wikpedia, by Jon Sullivan.

As all you corporate types know, for a business to succeed over the long term it must have defined - up and down the value chain - how progress will be measured: going far deeper than ROCE, cash flow, or profit. Having supply chain metrics are equally or more important for maintenance of shared natural resources such as timber or marine fisheries. (see Tragedy of the Commons for background).

The optimistic view.
Only the USA , it is now being claimed, has defined metrics for determining when over-fishing is taking place and has used quotas to get harvests in balance with populations. For the first time in a century, indications now are are that US territorial fisheries are heading toward that lovely balancing point of 'sustainability.'The cynical view.
With jobless rates, state budget deficits, and seafood prices all skyrocketing in parallel, state by state fishery quotas are unlikely to continue on a sustainability path, I am afraid. Newly elected Governors of coastal states are already whining about enforced Federal catch restrictions.

As reported in the Bangor Daily News:

But fishermen and their advocates say ending overfishing came at an unnecessarily high cost. Dave Marciano fished out of Gloucester, an hour's drive northeast of Boston, for three decades until he was forced to sell his fishing permit in June. He said the new system made it too costly to catch enough fish to stay in business.

"It ruined me," said Marciano, 45. "We could have ended overfishing and had a lot more consideration for the human side of the fishery."

An end to overfishing doesn't mean all stocks are healthy, but scientists believe it's a crucial step to getting there.

It comes down to this question. Shall the USA just have a grand tea party, liquidating coastal fish stocks, state by state; or, shall the Federal Government enforce quotas to have some fish to fry for the next generation?

Have you gone to a nice seafood store lately and looked at the quality and the prices? The good stuff has become completely unaffordable for all but the wealthy.

Real Atlantic cod is the Renaissance painting of seafood. Tilapia, although edible on those rare occasions when it does not taste like nut and spice-covered algae cake, is by comparison to the real deal, an Elvis on black velvet.

See also Matt's slightly different take on same subject.