24 Nov 2016

For whom are fisheries managed?

A fisherman writes [edited for anonymity]:
I want a license to fish X. I made an application, but they said I would have to buy out an existing fisher. The cost of which would be approximately one million dollars even if anyone would sell.

The X fishery was developed approximately 25 years ago out of experimental licenses that were given to those that took part in the experimental fishery. Those fishers have formed a group, but they have never fully caught their quota for X in all those years.

I proposed that I be allowed to fish only the average of the past five years uncaught quota by fishing where the "group" did not chose to fish. Ultimately this was rejected.

I am asking for some advice on attacking this situation. From your perspective is there a reasonable argument that I could put forward?
In reply, I wrote:
It seems that the regulator is defending the property rights of the existing folks as a means of (1) protecting their (cartel) profits that would fall if you brought X to market and (2) potentially protects the X fishery from pressures on other places that may serve as nurseries for the commercial catch.

The purpose of cap and trade is to keep the fishery sustainable and profitable -- not to allow entry by those who may like to make money. The only angle I'd predict you could get would be to introduce some innovation that promises enough profits that you could buy out an incumbent. But, as you said, that's a lot of money.

My only suggestion is that you work for a permit owner who wants to retire, perhaps on a partnership that transfers quota to you over 10 years... like an apprentice.
Bottom line: New fishermen do not have the right to start fishing in sustainable fisheries.


Richard said...

There are ways around this, even in catch share fisheries. For example Denmark reserves a small % of the quota each year to accommodate newcomers, France 'taxes' quota transfers so that a reserve is populated to accommodate newcomers. That way new fishers don't have to be disadvantaged.

Still, as fish are public resource any kind of long term right granting should be accompanied by royalty payments or some kind of tax, atleast to cover government management costs.

Mike said...

In Malcom v Canada (Fisheries and Oceans), 2014 FCA 130, the Court established the following general principles at para 3, 24, 40, 52:

Para 3: .... in exercising discretion to reallocate part of a TAC (Total Allowable Catch) from one fishery sector to another, the Minister may take into account social and economic considerations...

Para 24: the federal Court of Appeal agreed with a Federal Court Judge that "there is nothing preventing the Minister from favoring one group of fishermen over another"

Para 40: The Fisheries Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. F-14 grants the Minister wide and unfettered discretion to manage the Canadian fisheries taking into account the public interest. As noted by Major J. in Comeau's Sea Foods at pp. 25-26, Canada's fisheries are "common property resource" belonging to all the people of Canada, and it is the Minister's duty under the Fisheries Act to manage, conserve and develop the fisheries on behalf of Canadians in the public interest.

Para 52: As I have already noted, the Minister has broad authority and discretion under the Fisheries Act to manage the fisheries in the public interest....... the Minister may, among other factors, take into account social and economic factors in managing and allocating a fishery resource.

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