As Congress Considers Fisheries Management Law, New Greenpeace Report Reveals Dangers to Fish Stocks and Jobs

July 6, 2010

As hearings continue today on legislation regulating the nation's troubled fisheries, Greenpeace released a report showing that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is recommending to Congress measures that would further jeopardize fish stocks, ocean ecosystems, and fishing jobs.

Responding to a recent NAS report entitled “Sharing the Fish,”
which supports a controversial plan to privatize fish stocks,
Greenpeace released its own analysis entitled, “Scaring the Fish.”
This analysis reveals fundamental flaws and deficiencies in the NAS
study, and shows that privatizing fish stocks through Individual
Transferable Quotas (ITQs) endanger the recovery of fish stocks and
protection of fishing grounds.

Written for Greenpeace by economist Dr. Fredrick Jennings of the
Center for Ecological Economics and Ethical Education, “Scaring the
Fish” explains that the Congressionally-commissioned NAS study
fails to prove that ITQs comply with fundamental US fishing laws.
Specifically, ITQs fail every one of the 10 acceptability tests for
responsible conservation and management designated in the Magnuson
Act, the primary legislative tool governing management of ocean
resources. Failure to meet even one of these standards is by law
sufficient to disqualify a potential new management plan.

The Greenpeace analysis also contains case studies of past or
existing ITQs in New Zealand, Iceland, Canada, and the U.S., which
clearly indicate that such privatization of fish stocks has only
hampered fish conservation and led to the loss of many jobs in
small scale commercial fishing communities.

The Greenpeace report comes as Congress hears testimony today
from proponents of lifting the current moratorium on ITQs, in place
since 1996. Greenpeace Fisheries campaigner Niaz Dorry said the
Greenpeace analysis should provide all the evidence Congress needs
to extend that moratorium.

“Congress is getting some very fishy advice from the NAS study,”
Dorry said. “What’s bad for the fish is bad for the people. ITQs
put a public resource in the pocket of big corporations that can
afford the loss if our fish stocks dwindle. But the very
livelihoods of our nation’s small scale commercial fishers
literally depend on healthy fish stocks.”

The Greenpeace analysis offers at least one alternative economic
paradigm to ITQs, based on the precautionary principle which adopts
as its primary goal the integrity of the ocean ecosystems.

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