What Are These Cretins Doing?

For the first time in 10 years fishermen have been granted the right to catch more North Sea cod.

A deal hammered out in Brussels today saw the North Sea cod quota increased by 11 per cent for 2008, after scientists reported an increase in cod stocks.

"A deal hammered out"? So we\’re still at that insane stage whereby politicians trade quotas around a table? No one has got to the point that this is a Commons, and that property rights have to be assigned for it to be managed?

It is hoped that the deal will stop fishermen having to throw dead cod back into the sea before returning to port because they have accidentally surpassed their quotas.

An estimated 800,000 tonnes of dead fish were thrown back into the North Sea last year.

That\’s the problem you stupid cretins! That we\’re throwing back more than we land!

Oh, and message to journalists. This does not mean that fishermen have been granted the right to catch more North Sea cod. It means they\’ve been granted the right to land and sell more of the cod they\’re already catching and killing. Put it that way please, so that more people see the lunacy of the current system.

If I ever do decide to become that most despised of things, a politician (and it\’s under serious consideration) then this would be my cause. The Common Ficheries Policy is based on the most absurd misunderstanding of the basic economics of fisheries themselves and as such needs to be torn down and replaced with something sensible as soon as possible.

Just one example of what a sensible system produces is contained in a recent paper (sorry, the reference is somewhere out there). When fish stocks are actually owned, the most profitable level of stocks for the fishermen is actually one above (yes, that is above) sustainable levels. So if we get those property rights correct, the allocation of them, we\’ve then solved all of our conservation problems at one stroke.

Grr.

3 comments on “What Are These Cretins Doing?

  1. Tim,

    You can’t just give something this valuable away! Think of all the bureaucrats whose children will face a future of presentless Christmases if they lose their comfortable (and, you are right, pointless) jobs regulating the European fishing stocks.

    Goodness, you’ll be suggesting that small privately-owned farms in Russia, China and Cuba actually out-perform the heavily subsidised state collective goliaths next.

  2. “So if we get those property rights correct…”

    And there’s the problem. It isn’t a choice between a commons run by cretins and sensibly designed property rights, it’s a choice between cretin-run commons and cretin-designed property rights. It isn’t as clear which of those is preferable.

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