From liberating illegal fish and defying European quota regulations to the serious unintended consequences of hunting and fishing regulations, we've seen plenty of arguments that ill-thought out legislation can be worse than no regulation at all.
Lewis of the Pemaquid Lobster co-op in Bristol, Maine, would seem to agree with this thesis. Talking to Daniel and Mirra of The Perennial Plate—the same crew who brought us video of a poetic seaweed forager last week—Lewis argues that in times gone by the industry would regulate itself through traditions and some strictly (if informally and occasionally violently) enforced territorial agreements.
It seems unlikely to me that we can go back to those less regulated times unless and until we see a simultaneous return to more localized, small-scale economies. After all, lobster was once a meal for those who lived near the sea and/or the wealthy elite elsewhere. But in a world where there's a global market for Maine lobster, and where chain-restaurants serve it by the ton, some form of regulation is inevitable. Nevertheless, this is a useful reminder that unless fishing communities are actively involved and consulted in what works and what doesn't, the chances are that we all lose out.
On a separate but related note, I'm going to be a little sad when the Perennial Plate roadtrip comes to its end. What a beautiful journey they are sharing with us.