The Bush Administration plans to introduce tradeable quotas for fishermen. According to the Washington Post:
The administration’s bill would be the biggest change in fisheries management in a decade. It aims to double by 2010 the number of "dedicated access privileges" programs, which allocate shares of each fishery to individual fishermen, who can then can buy and sell their shares. In Alaska, for example, fishermen are granted a portion of the allowed halibut catch and can trade these quotas among themselves; in most U.S. fisheries, regulators govern the annual catch by limiting how many days fishermen operate and how much they collect each trip.
Good. Almost every expert in fishing agrees that a property-rights based approach to reducing overfishing is exactly what is needed. Furthermore, it is good economics. Nor are there any environmental arguments against using tradable quotas as a way to deliver reductions in overfishing in the most efficient way possible. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Steve Murawski, chief science adviser to the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service, said … the administration recognizes that good fishery management is based on peer-reviewed science, and that the government should help fishermen make better business decisions through the use of fishing quotas. "In many cases they do not make market decisions that are in their own best interests and the long-term interests of the country because of this race to compete with each other," he said. "This ‘survival of the fittest’ — it generates a lot of conservation issues."
It is good to see the administration turn to peer-reviewed science for support. Now why can’t the Bush Administration apply exactly the same logic to limiting greenhouse gas emissions, by limiting carbon-dioxide emissions using tradable quotas? They could start by supporting the Clear Skies bill which desperately needs Administration support if it is to get through Congress.
<dream> One of the greatest assets that developing countries have today is that they are low emissions economies. Wouldn’t it be great if we divided the world’s limit for greenhouse gas emissions equally, by head of population, and then let the world’s poor, who are clean, rent to the world’s rich, who are dirty, the right to use their pollution limits? </dream>
Update 22 September: See the post on this by Jane Shaw at the Commons Blog