STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Comes an ‘Ethical Fish’
By Daily Bell Staff - January 20, 2016

Oceans running out of fish as undeclared catches add a third to official figures … The global catch of fish and seafood is falling at three times the rate reported by the United Nations and urgently needs to be slowed to avoid a crash, reports Christopher Pala. The finding comes in a new study for Nature which quantifies the huge illegal industrial fish pillaging taking place around the world, together with artisanal catches, which in 2010 added over 50% to UN estimates. We have ways of knowing whether a fish has been caught sustainably. – TheEcologist.org

Dominant Social Theme: If people don’t get upset about over-fishing, then there won’t be any more fish.

Free-Market Analysis: TheEcologist.com is the big fish of the “green” movement, which grew out of the organization’s early activism and writings. Now transferred to the web, The Ecologist magazine is taking on a new challenge, which is to create “a movement for ethical fish,” that will reduce the depredations of international fishing.

Actually, the “movement for ethical fish” that the article cites is probably better presented as the “movement for ethical fishING,” but … well, you get the idea. That’s the name they’re going with apparently.

Here’s more:

Now we need to start a movement for ethical fish that considers the impact of fishing not just on the fishes and the ecosystem, but also on the people who depend on them for survival. Despite steady gains in efficiency and hefty subsidies, the world’s international fleets of industrial fishing vessels are seeing their catch diminish much faster than previously thought.

And this is happening for a simple reason: because the oceans are running out of fish. This is the core finding of a major study published today in Nature Communications. If the current rate of fishing continues, warns the study’s leader, Professor Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia, consumers in rich countries will soon face fewer choices of wild fish and coastal residents of poor countries will see their supply of affordable animal protein dwindle.

So far we are in predictable territory. The article seems filled with the usual doom and gloom that one might expect from a green publication. And the call to action is predictable as well …

“Non-profit organizations should create … an ethical seafood label,” we are advised. A movement for “ethical fish” would take into account whether the fish were being caught by companies that were conscious of the larger sustainability of the industry and ecosystem.

The article is built around a long-term Pew study that found “the global catch has been 32% higher than the catch that countries reported.” This is not surprising of course, though it does seem to come as a shock to TheEcologist.org.

Most of the unreported catch … “was due to a network of secret wholesalers and processor the authorities uncovered in 2005” – a state of affairs called “amazing” given the presence of “a well regulated” fishing industry.

What a world we live in: Once again wide-eyed amazement that regulation is not a panacea. Surprise, surprise. Presumably if regulators regulate better, much of the problem can be resolved.

And yet … here the article begins to change direction and becomes less predictable. After declaring that there ought to be a movement for “ethical fish,” we begin to encounter some unexpected suggestions, as follows:

Solution: end subsidies to big fishing companies. The most effective solution to the global problem … is to eliminate the so-called bad subsidies for fuel and for building new vessels or making existing ones ever more efficient – about $20 billion a year that serve to increase the fishing pressure on a fast-decreasing resource. These go overwhelmingly to large, well-connected companies and ships.

Good for TheEcologist.org! Why should governments of Europe and Japan subsidize their largest fishing corporations? The subsidies, in fact, seem to make the very largest depredations possible.

The global fish catch is worth about $80 billion, we learn, and the subsidies amount to $20 billion, or 25% of income.” Get rid of subsidies and the largest companies would have to take home a 25% profit. Many might go out of business instead.

Seen in this light, a movement for “ethical fish” has at least some connection to reality. Get rid of government funding and some of the worst abuses and abusers might diminish.

The idea of removing government in order to fix a problem might be seen as unusual. Most mainstream solutions, unfortunately, usually involve MORE government not less. But it is surely the invisible hand of competition that holds the key to resolving scarcity issues of all kinds.

Usually we find laissez faire solutions to scarcity dilemmas being offered by the libertarian media, and a quick search of the Internet quickly locates one such from 2014, entitled “How Libertarianism Can Save The Whales And Prevent Overfishing.”

The article is posted at “Simple Facts and Plain Arguments” and suggests a simple, free-market solution.

One common question I hear being asked is, “What can be done to prevent overfishing in a pure libertarian society?” The question deals with over-consumption, and can be answered much in the same way as “what about the trees” and “who will protect animals?”

The answer is, as usual: property rights and the non-aggression principle. Using GPS and latitude/longitude, let people parcel out and own a piece of the ocean like they would own a piece of land. Or, let people claim/buy the fishing/mining/whatever rights for a certain parcel of ocean. The point is: private property.

This is certainly a reasonable enough idea in some ways. People tend to take care of their own property and want that property to advance in value. Thus, people and companies with sea-based property rights might well be incentivized to do what is necessary – individually or as a group – to build value. Presumably, this would include ensuring plentiful stocks of fish.

Indeed, creating private property in the ocean might be seen as a significant step forward from a libertarian perspective. But in a sense it is an artificial solution because someone would have to “organize” such an evolution.

Perhaps there is a simpler solution and one we have often suggested in these modest pages.

Begin with the notion that most social and economic problems are generated by an unholy alliance of big business and government. Large corporations – often abusive – are created and supported by a variety of modern judicial decisions. There are three main ones: monopoly fiat money issued by central banks, corporate personhood privileges and monopoly intellectual property rights.

Get rid of these three judicially sustained supports and Western society would gradually subside back into more human-sized economic environments.

A society where bigness was not enforced by government power would be slower-paced and less consumer driven. It would also be less prone to various forms of depredation including the current warfare/welfare state paradigm, which would have a hard time maintaining its existence.

For one reason or another modern societies are stuffed like turkeys with bigness everywhere. On closer inspection, the bigness is not sustainable without the barrel of a gun. The trouble is that bigness is in the air we breathe and thus we believe it is a natural outgrowth of modernity. It’s “part of progress,” though it is not.

This is yet another reason to organize one’s personal life about modest goals and local involvement. Do what you can to ensure your own survival and prosperity at a local level and then attempt to provide similar solutions to your surrounding community.

Conclusion: Leave world-spanning solutions to others. Concentrate on controlling your own destiny. Tend to your own garden.

Posted in STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
  • NAPpy

    Some other examples of how the free market can solve common environmental “problems”:

    http://www.intentionalworldview.com/Political+Philosophy#Environment

  • Earn nest

    We fight about abortion, welfare, GMO, Vaccinations and on and on but we really ought to get the discussion about overpopulation and family planning back up in the spotlight before it suddenly becomes critical.

  • alaska3636

    I read a quote from C.S. Lewis the other day that I will paraphrase here:
    I am a democrat not because I believe in the wisdom of man; but because I believe that man is so far fallen, that no man should be given the power to rule over other men.

    Indeed, you would think the well-publicized failings of the regulators to peer into the future would make people leery of “public” solutions. Alas, I will now paraphrase Fleetwood Mac:
    If you can’t be with the one you love, honey; love the one you’re with.

    • Blank Reg

      I thought that was CSNY…

      • Henry Balfour

        written by Stills.

    • john cummins

      That’s Stephen stills

      • alaska3636

        CS Lewis from an essay on equality:

        I am a democrat because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. And whenever their weakness is exposed, the people who prefer tyranny make capital out of the exposure. I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost, much less a nation. Nor do most people – all the people who believe advertisements, and think in catchwords and spread rumours. The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.

        According to Wikipedia, the Sarge cribbed the line:
        “Stills wrote the song after being inspired by the tag line — “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with” which was a frequent remark by musician Billy Preston. Stills asked him for permission to use the line in a song and Preston agreed immediately.”
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_the_One_You%27re_With

        Either way, I was off…

  • Injun Holbrook

    China must have anticipated DB’s article as it certainly believes in the private ownership of the South China Sea. Economic, political and consumption problems are intertwined so tightly it will be virtually impossible to rectify a solution, not only in the region but globally. Even if the western world paid $20.00 for a 3 oz can of fish it does nothing to stem the problem. Overfishing will continue when you have the China Sea providing approximately 20% of the needed to protein for regional consumption that presently totals over several billion people with continued growth.

    Perhaps more importantly is the dynamite and cyanide fishing that destroys [in the long term] much more than the taking. Engrained into tradition, dynamite fishing continues and cyanide fishing is destroying the valuable reefs not to mention island building. Mining provides more devastation with runoff and mineral exploration has begun in the region adding to potential disasters.

    What can we all do? Many years ago I would go marlin fishing in Mexico. One day there were no game fish. They had all been caught in nets large enough to drag a cruise ship down. Japan was notoriously dragging nets across miles of water and literally depleted ALL fish in the area. It has taken several decades and enforcement to re-establish the population. I don’t see the will to establish such enforcement in the South China Sea, especially when there are boundary issues that will eventually lead to continued conflicts on both land and sea.

    • We weren’t speaking of ownership by nation states but by individuals and individual entities.

      • Injun Holbrook

        Thank you for your comment, I was well aware of your meaning. However China isn’t.

  • gypsearose

    It’s not OK to fish but it is OK to poison the water and food with fluoride and GMO’s and that list goes on forever..
    Local fishermen are very concerned about the issue and practice ethical fishing.,However factory trawlers and fishermen from other countries do not care nor abide by the rules.

  • From the sense of exploitive asset stripping that is inherent in the article above, the following came up from recognizing the losing of Our relationship with the Mother/Father – or Spirit of Life on Earth: A living feeling sense of individuality of and within Wholeness. (To an unloving phisher of Souls)

    When sovereignty of will is lost to a willingness for conceit, truth is redefined as a result of war – whether by force or deceit. Truth is not conceptual nor can it be conceptualized. Truth is what and who you are and your human lifetime is a recognisably unique expression of that gift. The attempt to take and make truth your own is to exchange death for life. It may seem otherwise because the mind of conceit is a liar. It may seem that others die that you live.
    Learning boundaries is growing a clear and working balance of who you are and who you are not – so as to enjoy your experience of being.

    The idea of becoming ‘more than’, substitutes for true growth of participation and perspective, as a result of thinking that insinuates and taunts that you are ‘less than’. This ‘thinking’ will never be satisfied excepting it brings the movement of life to cessation.

    It is easy to show or share with another about life when the light is on and impossible amidst its denial. The thinking of substitution for truth is a false light that denies the feeling of life. It is at war with our true nature. Our true nature simply is. But the shifting complexity of denials and defences beneath justifications and judgements is impenetrable. Ethics are rational or philosophical extractions from residual customs or habits that retain fragments of original nature. The loveless thinking and intent does not believe in original nature and knows it not – but you are perfectly able to recognize what is true of you if you open a feeling-awareness. Perhaps what is true of you initially, is the recognition of being deeply out of true, and needing sanity and alignment above all else. This does not on surface perhaps, feel good at first – but love of truth is a sense of waking up or getting your life back – regardless the nature of the challenges or symptoms in which you are focused.

  • Dimitri Ledkovsky

    Ted Turner said famously that if you want to save America buy it. Seems the elites are applying the same mindset to the Oceans. Control, control ,control!

  • Bruce C.

    I think the Free Market Analysis of the The Ecologist magazine’s intent is misunderstood here. Given the failures of regulation and the existing three pillars of judicial corporate support their proposal is to indeed create a movement for ethical FISH and NOT ethical fishING.

    An “ethical fish” is a fish that thinks and acts sustainably, and not selfishly and greedily which has en masse led to diminishing fish populations. Put simply, an ethical fish will not take the bait or ignore signs of netting. An ethical fish is a thinking fish, a wise fish, a fish that would rather reproduce than school with ignorant fish.

    As the article points out an ethical fish is also not one to completely starve its human earthly companions by abstaining from all forms of capture. Some fish are still being caught but at a much lower rate than projected, despite increases in human/mechanical efficiencies and subsidies. That is probably the best evidence to date that the ethical fish movement is gaining propulsion: Some fish are so ethical that they act to maintain a balance of all species not just their own.

    The article goes on to inject some ironic humor in citing “a core finding by a major study by ‘Nature Communications'”. The researchers mistakenly conclude that the world is running out of fish simply because fewer are being caught. The fact that many of today’s fish are more ethical and thus less likely to mindlessly engorge themselves or swim too close to the sun instead of mating never occurs to them.

    And the movement is spreading. Although cod were the first fish species to subscribe to the Green movement’s movement, many other edible fish are joining the school and thus reducing the number of readily capturable species, as coastal residents are reporting.

    Therefore, The Ecologist magazine is calling for an end to fishing subsidies since that money will surely be wasted. No matter how much technology is used at this point ethical fish will recognize it for what it is and have nothing to do with it, no matter the size of the fishing vessel.

    To be fair, the DB analysis does come around to that conclusion as well in saying essentially that ‘bigness is not sustainable using a spear gun.’ But what ethical HUMAN would use that?

    Stay tuned for the next article in The Ecologist: Eliminating spear guns.

  • Praetor

    It seem the Professor at the University of British Columbia has hit on a good idea stop government subsides (taxpayer dollars). Well, take it to the logical conclusion stop subsides to Universities, Banks, Wall street and the biggest subside of all government. Makes sense. Subsidizing waste and over use seems to be the biggest problem facing mankind. Now we have a supply problem, to much of everything. Way to much Fiat!!!

  • Benjamin Titshaw
  • Shark-Proof

    Undead Malthus being reanimated once again in the laboratories of the globalists

  • infamouscrimes

    Lame article. There is no such thing as ethical fishing. There is only one solution. It’s called: Stop Eating Fish. It’s not difficult. Nobody needs “animal protein” in their diet and fish flesh is the most toxic meat that people consume.

    • alaska3636

      You have a diverse comment profile.

  • Randy

    Yes, it’s a moot point, considering that the fish in the oceans are all going to be dead soon anyway, due to Fukushima. My wife and I used to eat sea foods, Salmon, Halibut, Swordfish, and my all time favorite,Tuna, but not since we heard about all that radioactive debris coming out of Japan have any of those things crossed our lips!! Now our diet has changed substantially. Even plants are becoming mutated and contaminated with radioactive particles from the meltdowns and explosions. Human birth defects are on the rise as well, so we will be in a Mad Max world and even WORSE in the next few years.

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