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Overfishing comes and goes in the press as a global catastrophe. We should make sure it sticks around since this global problem steadily worsens. This NYT editorial points out that illegal fishing is irreversibly destroying many of the world’s fisheries.

The Europeans have wiped out their local fisheries and are now destroying those of Africa. In fact the industry is geared up to evade regulation – enforcing stringent regulations in certain areas encourages pressure on fish populations elsewhere.

It is an old argument – you cannot partially impose property rights on an open access resource. In addition efforts to promote sustainable aquaculture using costly fish cultivation technologies are undercut by the existence of fish stocks which can be harvested at close to zero cost.

By the way most of Australia’s fisheries are overfished or have an uncertain conservation status.

3 comments to Overfishing

  • Bring Back CL's blog

    No net profit?

  • Anonymous


    There is amarginal cost openseas fishing incurs that aquaculture doesn’t.

    Vessel depreciation, fuel etc.


  • hc

    If legal harvesting of the ocean or aquaculture costs C and open access costs c and the fish are worth p then illegal harvesting will occur until p=c when all rents are exhausted. If c is less than C then no legal fishing will occur at all. The open access resource ‘crowds out’ legal fishing entirely.

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