My Reason colleague Michael DeAlessi has written the following regarding fisheries policy, which I feature here as a guest post:

Yesterday [Thursday] the New York Times published an article in response to a study in the journal Nature that details the decline of large fish in the world’s oceans.

The article begins “In just 50 years, the global spread of industrial-scale commercial fishing has cut by 90 percent the oceans’ population of large predatory fishes, from majestic giants like blue marlin to staples like cod, a new study has found.”

Fisheries depletion is nothing new – just about everyone already knows that fisheries are generally in decline around the world. Unfortunately, as usual, activists and journalists don’t seem to understand, or care, about _why_ this is the case. And heaven forbid anybody writes about solutions that are actually working.

But solutions are what it’s all about, so I thought you might be interested in the response I sent in earlier today. Think the NYT will actually print it?

May 15, 2003
To the editor:

While it is undoubtedly true that “Commercial Fleets [have] Reduced Big Fish” (May 14) by tragic proportions, your article misses the most important question – why are some marine species depleted and others conserved?

Implicating clichéd, rapacious fishers and quotes like “With all this technology together, the fish hardly have a chance,” point fingers in all the wrong places. Fish-finding sonar and wily fishermen could just as easily be the solution – as they are in places like New Zealand and Iceland where fishing rights are secure and so fishermen themselves press for conservation measures.

The article mentions the resurgence of buffalo, which were only saved because a small number of ranchers took them off the range where they were free for the taking and ‘privatized’ them. Until we allow some kind of privatization of ocean resources, the rules of the game will continue to be stacked against the fish.

Michael De Alessi
Director of Natural Resource Policy
Reason Foundation