ITQ: Incentive-Based Approaches to Sustainable Fisheries

At the Australian National University, economist R. Quentin Grafton is Professor, Co-Chair of ANU Water Initiative, Director, Centre for Water Economics, Environment and Policy. Grafton was the principle author of the quoted paper on fisheries policy, and AFAIK one of the leading fisheries researchers. Here is the abstract:

Using examples from more than a dozen fisheries, we highlight the failures of ‘command control’ management and show that approaches that empower fishers with the incentives and the mandate to be co-custodians of the marine environment can promote sustainability. Evidence is provided that where harvesters share well-defined management responsibilities over fish, and experience both the pain of overexploitation and the gains from conservation, they are much more likely to protect fish stocks and habitat. The key insight is that to maintain marine ecosystems for present and future generations, fishing incentives must be compatible with long-term goals of sustainability.

CNN on global fisheries

It isn’t easy to find accurate information on what is happening fishery by fishery. Thus, while I don’t consider CNN a “reliable source” but this short summary on global fisheries seems to be accurate. Excerpt:

(…) UNEP’s report, “In Dead Water” released in January, says as much as 80 percent of the world’s main fish catch species have now been “exploited beyond or close to their harvest capacity”. We are now being told that if we carry on fishing at the rate we do, by 2048 all of the species that we currently fish for food will have disappeared.

In words not to be taken lightly, UNEP is now warning that unless governments around the world enforce some radical changes right now, we could be in the process of witnessing “a collapsing ecosystem”.

Should that happen, it would mean nothing short of a catastrophe, with far reaching consequences for marine life — and human life. One billion people around the world rely on fish as their main source of protein, while 2.6 billion of us get at least 20 percent of our animal protein intake from it.

Too many boats, not enough fish

There are several problems with how we catch fish.

For starters, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says the global fishing fleet is 2.5 times bigger than “what the oceans can sustainably support” – i.e. there are too many boats catching too many fish, and not giving fish stocks enough time to replenish them.

One living example of this can be found off the coast of Canada. In the early 1990’s, cod stocks in the rich fisheries of the Newfoundland Grand Banks collapsed — some to as little as 1 percent of their historical levels — because of over fishing. A decade on, they have yet to recover.

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) puts the number of fishing vessels at around 4 million with a staggering 86 percent of them operating in Asian waters.

But, according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN) just 1 percent of these vessels are big enough to substantially threaten global fisheries, with the “capacity to take around 60 percent of all the fish caught globally”.

These large vessels have been largely kept in business by governmental subsidies, say non-governmental organizations like the WWF which has been urging the World Trade Organization (WTO) to do something about them.

The worldwide fishing industry employs around 200 million people, generating $80 billion a year. But a hefty chunk of the industry’s revenues come from subsidies, which are currently estimated at around $34 billion a year. Those most responsible for subsidizing the fishing industry are Japan (spending $5.3 billion a year), the European Union ($3.3 billion) and China ($3.1 billion), according to activist group Oceana.

The increase in illegal fishing hasn’t helped matters either, representing a fifth of all catches worldwide, a figure that came out of a recent meeting between the World Bank and the IUCN earlier this year. The business for pirate ships “flying flags of convenience from landlocked nations has boomed”, says the New Scientist.

And it’s not surprising why. As much as 64 percent of the world’s oceans have no national jurisdiction. That means anyone can fish there, as they are deemed to be international waters. They are known as the “high seas” and they cover 50 percent of the Earth’s surface.

In 2004, the most recent year statistics are available, the industry caught a record 106 million tons of fish.

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ITQ: A Tale of Two Fisheries

John Tierney wrote this piece for the NYT Magazine based upon his research into fisheries management successes and failures. Good work John! Here’s a few excerpts from John’s essay:

(…) Sorlien, like the other fishermen in this harbor just west of Newport, is surviving thanks to New England’s great cash crop, lobsters, but he wonders how much longer they’ll be around. ”Right now, my only incentive is to go out and kill as many fish as I can,” Sorlien said. ”I have no incentive to conserve the fishery, because any fish I leave is just going to be picked by the next guy.”

(…) Most stretches of open ocean are governed by state and federal governments, which is why the fish are in so much trouble. Tuna do not vote. Lobsters do not make campaign contributions. There may be future benefits from limiting this year’s catch, but politicians don’t want the fishing industry to suffer while they’re up for re-election. Even when fish populations start to decline, officials are reluctant to impose strict limits. Instead, they have often tried to help struggling fishermen with subsidies, which merely encourage more overfishing. The Canadian and American governments devastated one of the world’s most productive fisheries, the Georges Banks off the coast of New England, by helping to pay for bigger boats. Now, even as scientists urge limits on lobstering, state and federal governments continue to offer tax breaks and other incentives to the lobstermen at Point Judith. John Sorlien was docked at a wharf financed by the taxpayers of Rhode Island. ”It’s not a sane system,” Sorlien said. ”We work with the government to break fisheries, and then we ask the government to subsidize us when the fish disappear.”

(…) Allen first found the way in the academic literature of fishery management, and then he saw it in operation. He journeyed to a port in Australia and returned with stories of a place with thriving lobsters, plenty of fat tuna, lots of prosperous fishermen — and no Soprano strong-arm tactics. It sounded like the maritime version of the Happy Hunting Grounds.

(…) When Spencer got his own boat in 1984, he bought his first trap licenses for $2,000 apiece in Australian dollars. Nowadays, they would sell for $35,000, which means that Spencer’s are worth a total of $2.1 million, or about $1.2 million in American dollars. He has done well by doing good: his licenses have become more valuable because the lobstermen are conservationists. They pay for scientists to monitor the fishery, and they have imposed strict harvesting limits that allow the lobsters to grow into sizable adults. (…) . Like any property owner, they began thinking about resale value. ‘‘Why hurt the fishery?” Spencer said. ”It’s my retirement fund. No one’s going to pay me $35,000 a pot if there are no lobsters left. If I rape and pillage the fishery now, in 10 years my licenses won’t be worth anything.”

(…) Fishing may be the only economic activity in which you can make more money by doing less work,” said Rick McGarvey, a biologist who monitors the fishery for the South Australian government. ”By fishing less, the fishermen leave more lobsters out there to produce more eggs, which will make it easier for them to catch lobsters in the future. It’s a win-win for the fish and the fishermen. The lobsters are thriving and the fishermen are spending more time at home with their families.”

(…) Because tuna were decimated by the old open system, in the 1980’s the government imposed limits on the annual catch. Now each fisherman owns what is called an individual transferable quota — the right to catch a certain percentage of the yearly haul. These quotas, which can be bought or sold like stock shares, are not cheap, so fishermen have changed their strategy. No longer able to slaughter fish at will, they have looked for ways to make the most of each fish. The result has been the world’s premier tuna ranches.

When the tuna are first caught in a net far out at sea, they are shepherded by the thousands into floating pens. The pens are slowly towed to Port Lincoln in an enormous tuna drive that lasts about two weeks. Once the pens are anchored in a bay near Port Lincoln, it is the ranch hands’ job to produce a fish good enough to become sashimi in Tokyo. ”It’s just like a feeding lot to fatten up cattle,” Cuddeford said as he pulled up one of the pens, which consisted of a closed net dangling more than 40 feet below the surface. The net was attached to what looked like a huge inner tube, a floating ring of rubber about 200 feet in circumference. Cuddeford tossed in the frozen blocks of herrings and anchovies. As the blocks began melting, you could see the flashes of blue fins below the surface as the tuna snapped up their meals.

”We’re giving them herring to get the oil content up in the meat,” Cuddeford explained. ”A bit more oil changes the color. The Japanese are fussy. They eat with their eyes.” The tuna would be fed for several months as the ranchers monitored their weight and watched the price of tuna on the Tokyo market. At a propitious time, divers would jump into the pen and guide the fish — gently, because any bruise would mean a lower price — on to a boat, which would whisk them to shore and on to an airplane for Tokyo. The 2,200 tuna in this pen were worth more than $2 million. At night, armed guards patrolled the waters for larcenous humans and hungry seals.

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ITQ: A Win-Win for Fish and Fishermen

John Tierney continues his coverage of the application of property rights to fisheries policy. We had not seen the Grafton et al “Economics of Overexploitation Revisited” paper before — this is an exciting result:

How can a fishermen make more money? By catching fewer fish.

That happy lesson is well known in the waters of Australia, as I discovered when I visited the lobster and tuna fisheries there for a New York Times Magazine article. But now there’s even better news, for both fish and fishermen, in an Australian study published today in Science. It turns out that profit-seeking fishermen should want to catch even fewer fish than the “sustainable” number calculated by biologists, because leaving more fish in the ocean leads to bigger populations that make for easier and more lucrative fishing in the long run.

Marine biologists have been trying, without much luck in many places, to limit the annual fish harvest so that the fish population reaches a size that produces the maximum possible yield year after year. But what if, instead of trying to maximimize the number of fish that could be caught, fishermen tried to maximize their profits? What would be the size of the fish population with the maximum economic yield over the long run? Here’s the answer and what it means, as explained to me by the lead author of the Science paper, R. Quentin Grafton of the Australian National University:

The key result is that we find that for very different species (including very long-lived and slow growing species like orange roughy) that the biomass that maximises the discounted economic profits of fishers (BMEY) is larger than the biomass that maximises the sustained yield (BMSY). Although this has been known to be a theoretical possibility we show that it likely holds for many, if not most, fisheries at reasonable discount rates, prices and costs (indeed our result holds at very high discount rates for three of the four fisheries we study).

The result implies that current fisheries management objective of moving fisheries to BMSY is not ‘conservative’ enough and, more importantly, allowing for larger stocks (larger than BMSY) is good (raises fisher profits), results in more fish in the sea and also more resilient marine ecosystems. In other words, it’s truly a ‘win-win’ outcome.

Dr. Grafton says the increased profits also offer a way to deal with the political problems of getting fishermen to forgo immediate profits in order to make more money tomorrow. He suggests that a government could compensate fishermen for their short-term losses, and then recoup the money by taxing the extra profits in the future. “Such a scheme,” he said, “coupled with individual harvesting rights that gives an assurance to those fishers incurring the transition costs that they will also be the beneficiaries of larger stocks and higher profits, will go a long way to overcoming fishers’ objections to lower harvest today.”

I hope he’s right, but it’s not been easy to get fishermen to act with economic rationality. Some lobstermen in New England would like to move toward the system in Australia, where the lobstermen enjoy easy work and big profits through a system that limits the catch and gives each lobstermen the right to a share of it (which he can sell when he retires, giving him an incentive to make sure there are lobsters left in the future so that his share sells for more money). But in New England (as elsewhere) it’s been a tough political fight to limit the catch or restrict the number of lobstermen, and the result is the classic tragedy of the commons: overfishing that leaves everyone worse off, including the fish.

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ITQ: Private property rights save the fisheries

Economists have been writing about the fisheries collapse problem for years – most recommend a policy of establishing property rights over the fisheries asset. The most common property rights scheme is “catch shares” usually termed ITQ (Individual Transferrable Quotas), as adopted by NZ, Alaska, parts of Australia and Iceland.

What empirical evidence do we have that catch shares protect the fisheries, reducing the risk of collapse? One global study was published 2008 in Science: Can Catch Shares Prevent Fisheries Collapse?

Recent reports suggest that most of the world’s commercial fisheries could collapse within decades. Although poor fisheries governance is often implicated, evaluation of solutions remains rare. Bioeconomic theory and case studies suggest that rights-based catch shares can provide individual incentives for sustainable harvest that is less prone to collapse. To test whether catch-share fishery reforms achieve these hypothetical benefits, we have compiled a global database of fisheries institutions and catch statistics in 11,135 fisheries from 1950 to 2003. Implementation of catch shares halts, and even reverses, the global trend toward widespread collapse. Institutional change has the potential for greatly altering the future of global fisheries.

John Tierney wrote an excellent survey of the new study for TiernyLab. John notes that Greenpeace is an opponent of property rights.

(…) In 1999, Greenpeace U.S.A. issued a report asserting that “privatization of fish stocks has only hampered fish conservation.”

That’s just the opposite of what’s reported in Science. When researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of Hawaii compared catch-share fisheries (like ones in Alaska, Iceland and New Zealand) with other fisheries between 1950 and 2003, they found that the catch-share fisheries were only half as likely to collapse, and that the health of the fisheries improved the longer the catch-share system was in effect. The system worked consistently well in different places and with different species of fish, the researchers concluded, and it also produced some important side benefits.

(…) “Much like when you own a house and have an incentive to invest in it, essentially the catch-share becomes an asset they protect,” said Christopher Costello, the lead author of the Science paper, who is an economist at U.C. Santa Barbara. Alluding to the many traditional fisheries in danger of collapse, he added, “We’ve tried the experiment of having full government control and we know what the outcome is. People are increasingly realizing that the more control the government maintains, the less incentive there is for those guys on the water to take the long-term stewardship of the fishery into account.”

Has Greenpeace become more sympathetic to such “privatization”? When I put that question to Greenpeace’s Phil Kline, who deals with ocean issues for the group, he told me by email that Greenpeace U.S.A. “believes that well-designed and implemented quota-fishery management programs can benefit both the environment and coastal communities.” But he said that “there are many current programs that fall way short,” and that future programs “need measurable conservation benefits,” should “maintain public ownership” and should “be developed with an inclusive stakeholder process.”

I’m not sure exactly what these conditions mean in practice for Greenpeace’s support of catch-share programs, and the caveats puzzle me.

I can understand why catch-share programs are controversial among local fishermen who are worried about abandoning a familiar system. Even when they hear that other catch-share systems enable fishermen to make more money for less work, they’re still concerned that they could lose out when the quotas in their fishery are allocated. And even though economists like Dr. Costello say that small-scale local fishermen usually do quite well under these systems, some locals still worry that the character of the community could change if some fishermen choose to sell their quotas to larger operators or to outsiders. Allocating the quotas and instituting protections for local fishermen are difficult political problems.

But if you’re a national or international environmental group dedicated to saving wildlife in the oceans for future generations, why get bogged down in these local political details? If a catch-share system protects the fish, why not endorse it wholeheartedly?

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ITQ: New England groundfish

Nature has a report on the New England move to ITQ (Individual Transferrable Quotas). Unlike NZ, Alaska and Iceland (individual quotas) the NE ITQ system will allocate quotas to collective sectors.

(…) Some countries have been adopting and modifying catch-share programmes since the 1970s. Considered a market-based solution, the idea is to minimize the competition for a limited resource by giving individual fishers the right to catch a certain amount of fish. Among the potential benefits, quotas can stabilize fishermen’s income and allow them to fill their quotas whenever they like, spreading out fishing efforts. Doing away with season restrictions reduces ‘derby’ conditions, in which fishermen race out, even in dangerous weather, to catch as much as possible. It also eliminates seasonal market gluts, potentially increasing the prices fishermen can command for their catch. On the ecological side, catch shares can be designed to limit the catch of non-target fish, increase populations of regulated fish and possibly encourage better resource stewardship. Although many catch-share systems are based on giving fishermen individual quotas, the New England council opted for collective sectors in which groups of fishing operations are allotted a quota and can determine what portion of it goes to each sector member.

For the quota system in New England, a major contention is not so much the catch shares themselves, but how the quotas are set. And here, say many, the science is lacking. The Magnuson–Stevens reauthorization dictates that NOAA scientists conduct annual assessments for each managed population. In some cases, assessments were being done about once every five years. And it’s doubtful that NOAA currently has the resources to scale up the effort. “That’s big science,” says Steve Cadrin, a biologist with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service based in Woods Hole, Massachusetts and chair of the scientific committee that advises the New England management council. Cadrin says that the agency has proposed relying on multiyear surveys that would set catch limits for a similar amount of time.

The limitations on the NOAA budget for fisheries studies prevails globally. It is difficult to manage a stock that isn’t monitored. However, once private property rights are established, the stakeholders are very keen to know how their stocks are doing. So if the quotas are set conservatively it may work out. My concern is that the initial quotas could be set too high. It takes a lot of political will to correct that mistake by buying back excess quota (which I believe Australia did).

Offshore aquaculture, more on Hawaii's Kona Blue

I first learned of this Hawaii venture from “Catching the Aquaculture Wave” by Michael De Alessi Reason Foundation 2004. This is a good survey piece on what the tragedy of the commons fisheries “management” practices have wrought, and how the demand for fin-fish might be sustainably satisfied.

I’m not ready to agree with the title of this Seattle PI article “‘Guilt-free’ fish farming arrives“, but these developments do look promising. Kona Blue Water Farms is a venture-backed Hawaii startup, raising kahala (also known as Hawaiian yellowtail and almaco jack), or Seriola rivoliana. This fish was very nearly fished out in Hawaii — before Kona Blue’s aquaculture there was no commercial marketing (Hawaii locals call this fish “moi”).

The offshore cages chosen by Kona Blue are the Sea Station system — developed by Ocean Spar Technologies, which is a venture of Bainbridge Island’s Net Systems. Who incidentally make the very best catamaran netting that we know of — a woven Spectra net chosen for PLAYSTATION. Here’s more:

(…) Unlike salmon farms, which tend to be in protected bays near the shore, Kona Blue’s ranch is a half-mile offshore. A half-mile might not seem far, but it puts the fish cages in waters that reach more than 200 feet deep. Kona Blue leases 90 acres of open ocean from the state of Hawaii, though it actively uses just nine acres.

The cages in which Kona Kampachi grow are called Sea Stations, which are made by Oceanspar, a division of a company on Bainbridge Island that specializes in commercial fishing gear called Net Systems.

A Sea Station is a UFO-shaped contraption made of a galvanized steel and nets. The structure consists of a 65-foot-tall center pole called a spar and a “Saturn” ring made of 12 segments, and stretches 80 feet in diameter. Triangular swaths of net woven of Dyneema, a fiber used in bulletproof vests, are attached to the steel frame.

“It’s two dodecahedral cones inverted so that their bases abut,” said Sims, president of Kona Blue. “It’s shaped like a Chinese lantern.”

Langley Gace, ocean engineer and aquaculture manager at Oceanspar, explained the construction: “It’s a bicycle wheel with an extruded axle … which is good for size and strength,” and for maintaining a fixed volume. The net walls are stiff and taut enough to withstand tough water conditions.

“Regardless of the currents, (the Sea Station) always has 3,000 cubic meters. For fish health, you don’t put them in a cage with moving walls.”

These unique cages are fully submersible and can be raised halfway out of the water for harvesting or cleaning. Kona Blue owns four Sea Stations, which house a total of about 140,000 fish. One more cage will be added this summer.

Movement of the cages depends on pneumatics. A diver takes an air hose that’s connected to an air compressor on a boat and hooks it up to the spar, which functions like a submarine ballast that can be filled alternately with air or water to shift the cage above or below the surface. Depending on the compressor used, the process of raising the cage can take 10 to 40 minutes.

When the cages are fully submerged, the tip of the spar is 30 feet below the surface. At this depth, the Sea Stations and the fish contained within are protected from storms that would wreak havoc on standard surface cages — hence the need for salmon farms, which rely on surface cages, to be located in protected bays.

For a review of the range of offshore cage offerings, see “Offshore cage systems — a practical overview” [PDF].

OK, what about the input/output ratio? Salmon farming has demonstrated a very unfavorable 3 to 5 ratio (e.g., 5 kg. of fish meal to produce 1 kg. of market salmon). Kona Blue claims 1:1 input/output as follows:

Seriola rivoliana, whether it’s the wild kahala or the cultivated Kona Kampachi, is a carnivorous fish.

“The Kona project may be better than most fish farm operations, but as long as they are raising carnivores, there will be a protein loss, not gain,” said Bellingham-based Anne Mosness, who directs the Go Wild campaign for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. …”It isn’t sustainable. It creates a high-value fish for diners in wealthier nations and it causes prices and marketplace of wild fish to plummet.”

Wink, who considers himself a socially conscious entrepreneur, recognizes that the feed Kona Blue gives its fish is “the big attack point.”

“We are trying to do this in as sustainable a way as possible,” Wink said. “The fish meal comes from sustainably caught fisheries.”

Kona Blue uses a feed made by EWOS, a Norwegian-owned company based in Surrey, B.C.

(…) To minimize the feed used, the fish are fed once a day. This keeps them ravenous enough that at meal time the food released into the cages is devoured quickly, which helps prevent pellets from drifting into the ocean.

Kona Blue has found that once-a-day feeding creates an optimum food conversion ratio: It takes 1 pound of dried feed to produce 1 pound of fish. With farmed salmon, that ratio is 3 to 5 pounds of feed to 1 pound of fish.

Dr. Albert Tacon, of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, is a worldwide expert in aquatic nutrition and feed technology research. He believes that it is possible to raise carnivores sustainably, “provided that we can find sustainable feed ingredient sources and feeds that keep pace with the development of the sector.

“I think if anyone can conduct offshore aquaculture in an environmentally responsible way, it is Kona Blue. Their track record to date has been one of complete openness and transparency — this is so refreshing in an emerging industry which has had its share of ups and downs.”

Is this a profitable, scalable entreprise? Well it doesn’t look to good according to “The false promise of ocean aquaculture in Hawaii” . This critical article was produced by foodandwaterwatch.org who may have priorities inconsistent with objective reporting. Anyhow, therein I learned that Kona Blue has sold the farm and lease:

KBWF has demonstrated that its model of commercial aquaculture is not profitable.In January 2010, KBWF sold its ocean fish farm to Keahole Point Fish LLC.27,28 Despite $1.8 million in funding from NOAA, nearly $200,000 in federal stimulus grants and contracts, Hawai`i high-tech tax credits, nearly $10 million from investors and a product sold only in high-end restaurants and retailers, KBWF did not achieve a level of profitability to sustain its grow-out operations.29,30,31,32,33 On January 8, 2010, the Board of Land and Natural Resources unanimously approved the transfer of KBWF’s lease for 90 acres of Hawaiian waters to a company registered just two months prior as a foreign LLC in Delaware — Keahole Point Fish LLC. The board failed to question the applicants who were present at the meeting about their experience and how they proposed to turn the failing KBWF into a profitable enterprise.36 KBWF will continue to manage sales and marketing of Kona Kampachi as well as conduct research at their land-based hatchery at Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai`i Authority.

One a more positive note, “OPEN OCEAN CAGE CULTURE“, summarizes some of the University of Hawaii Sea Grant work on this project. Principal investigator Charles Helsley. From this I learned that the these cages also perform as FADs, i.e., Fish Aggregating Devices. So outside the cages there should be enhanced productivity.
Popular Science has a decent survey article on OOA (offshore ocean aquaculture). For the fishing industry perspective, try World Fishing Today.
If your library has access, there are volumes of peer-reviewed papers at Journal of the World Aquaculture Society. E.g., “The Value of a Net-Cage as a Fish Aggregating Device in Southern California’.

The tragedy of the socialized commons and crashing salmon stocks

Tokyo Tom on the Pacific Northwest salmon commons. Of course the same principles apply as well here in New Zealand. Following is the conclusion of Tom’s essay:

(…) Predictably, as wild salmon dwindle and temperatures rise, no one seems to wonder what things would be like if governments stopped trying to “manage” the salmon and playing the middleman, but found some way to recognize property/harvesting rights and to enforce basic common law rights against nuisance, and stepped out of the way.

I made some of these points in an email I sent today to some parties at interest:

Ladies/Gentlemen:
I sent the following note to WildSalmonCircle.com when I joined their mailing list; some of you might be interested:
  
Yes, one of your chief enemies are the salmon farmers, but the real reason for the problem is that the government – and not the First Nation or any other fishermen – owns the wild salmon.
As a result, the First Nations, commercial and sports fisherment and other supporters of wild slmon and natural ecosystems have NO direct rights to protect the wild salmon and are largely relegated to feebly petitioning government (and the farming companies, whose managers are obliged to care first and foremost for profits generated for owners), and have little or no ability to directly sue the salmon-farming interlopers whose pollution is damaging your livelihood and the greater Northwest ecosystem.
This is exactly the problem we see with many other government-owned/managed resources – in Canada, the US, China, the Amazon, developing countries – and it’s why Elinor Ostrom was given the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics. Solutions regarding common resources lie in resource users having recognized rights and an ability to bargain with others in the community. Where governments own resources, then they deny to those whose livelihoods and ways of life are at stake a voice in their own present and future. (In the case of salmon, this has deep, “Avatar”-like roots in the historical pushing aside of native rights and resource management practices in favor of new, Western-dominated governments.)
So, to First Nations and fishermen, I say – sue the farmers directly for nuisance pollution – assert your rights! Don’t leave them simply as another interest group petitioning government.

But also start pushing for direct, recognized property rights in the wild salmon, which would end the “tragedy of the commons” resulting from a free-for-all ocean take. Ending ocean take and replacing it with traditional river-mouth-based harvests will better protect the wild resource and give you stronger rights to make claims on those upstream who poison and damage habitat. And take a page out of the book of Target US, and organize a CONSUMER BOYCOTT OF ALL FARMED SALMON. And work to eliminate all legislative grants to insiders of immunity to lawsuits for activities that damage the economic interests of others (i.e., that produce “nuisances”).
Sincerely,
Tom

New Salmon Farming Method Wins Backing of Monterey Bay Aquarium

Yale Environment 360 highlights a hopeful aquaculture advance. We need farmed fish for the future, so we badly need farming technologies that avoid the severe negatives of most coastal saltwater farming of predator fish (e.g., Atlantic Salmon). I am surprised that they have achieved a 1:1 input/output ratio; typically farms feed 4 to 5 kilos of fish meal to yield one kilo of salmon. And the imprint of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a big deal — they are very serious about the whole life cycle of the farms:

(…) The salmon are raised in closed pens on land, rather than in open net pens near coastlines, eliminating dangers from the spread of disease to wild fish and ending the problem of farmed salmon escaping and breeding with wild salmon. The AquaSeed salmon also are raised in freshwater, as opposed to saltwater, and the company uses Pacific salmon rather than Atlantic salmon — currently the most common pen-reared form of salmon. In addition, through advances in breeding and changes in feed formulas, AquaSeed says it can raise a pound of salmon using roughly a pound of fish food; traditional salmon farms use about four pounds of fish meal to produce one pound of Atlantic salmon.

(…)

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