|Social resistance to the obvious good: A review of responses to a proposal for regulation of European fisheries|
Patterson, K. (2008). Social resistance to the obvious good: A review of responses to a proposal for regulation of European fisheries, in: Nielsen, J. et al. (Ed.) Reconciling Fisheries with Conservation: Proceedings of the Fourth World Fisheries Congress. American Fisheries Society Symposium, 49: pp. 43-52
In: Nielsen, J. et al. (Ed.) (2008). Reconciling Fisheries with Conservation: Proceedings of the Fourth World Fisheries Congress. American Fisheries Society Symposium, 49. American Fisheries Society: Bethesda. ISBN 978-1-888569-80-3. 2 volumes pp., more
In: American Fisheries Society Symposium. American Fisheries Society: Bethesda. ISSN 0892-2284, more
Classical science-based fisheries management offers a number of "obvious goods" for society that can accrue from avoiding growth overfishing and recruitment overfishing. These include an increase in yield, income, and profitability of fishing operations, a decrease in fishing effort, costs, time spent at sea, and capital expenditure. It offers a better stability of yield, better resistance to environment-driven instability and shorter working hours. Lower fishing mortality rates can mean larger fish in the catches with better market values and a decrease in discarding, as well as lower impacts on the marine ecosystems and on nontarget species and a lower risk of stock depletion events. These constitute the "obvious good" referred to in the title. In preparing a legislative package offering to deliver benefits such as these in European Fisheries in 2002, the European Commission sought consultations with member states, with various representative elements of the fishing sector, and a number of other representational bodies (globally, "stakeholders"). This paper summarizes a sample of these responses that are in the public domain and compares how the demands of the stakeholders compare with the "obvious good" that science-based management can offer. Stakeholders' responses each represented a unique viewpoint, but some common themes could be identified. The most important request from the stakeholders was for a policy that maintains employment, even in the short term, and with state aid if necessary. Meeting conservation goals was generally allocated a secondary importance, though the importance of such goals varied among stakeholders. A high value was also placed on stability in catching opportunities, but this was usually not linked to conservation objectives. Stakeholders placed generally little value on other "obvious goods" such as improving profitability of fishing (so long as it could be maintained at a "viable" level), improving working conditions or reducing ecosystem impacts. The conclusion from this analysis is that more policy attention should be given to management strategies that reconcile high employment with mitigation of biological risks to the sustainable exploitation of the resources.