Cap-and-Trade for Seafood Industry May be Next

by | Dec 11, 2009

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fishyThe Obama Administration has proposed a cap-and-trade style system that would extend to federally covered fisheries, the New York Times reports.

The so-called “catch shares” proposal from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration aims to end overfishing, thus protecting both wildlife and sustaining the long-term viability of industries that rely on fishing, according to a press release.

In addition to fishermen, regulated traders would be able to buy and sell catch shares, much like the carbon trading markets that are gaining steam.

When Congress updated the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 2006, it gave NOAA until 2011 to bring a halt to overfishing of stocks in U.S. waters.

An NOAA task force has suggested some recommendations to build support for the proposal among fishermen, reports Taragana.

However, the Gloucester Times opines that the change “pushes independent family-owned fishing boats out of business and cedes control of the seafood industry to corporate outside investors who buy up the shares.”

The newspaper said that the NOAA chief administrator Jane Lubchenco has offered an inadequate $18 million to administer the program. To make up any shortfall, Lubchenco plans to solicite funds from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which is backed by corporations including Wal-Mart, Anheuser-Busch, Bank of America and the Big Oil gang of British Petroleum, Exxon/Mobil, Marathon Oil, Shell, and Conoco-Phillips.

The Gloucester Times said accepting money from such interests in the end would benefit corporate fishing firms at the expense of small businesses.

The Pew Environment Group is behind the NOAA proposal.

“NOAA and its Catch Shares Task Force recognize that catch shares are not a one-size-fits-all fisheries solution and not all fisheries can or should be managed by them,” said Lee Crockett, director of Federal Fisheries Policy for Pew, in a statement. “In keeping with that determination, the draft NOAA policy released today encourages, rather than mandates, that catch shares be one of several possible management tools regional fishery management councils should consider when developing their plans.”

View and comment on the NOAA draft proposal here.

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