Cap-Rent-Recycle: Common Sense on Catch Shares

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When it comes to management of U.S. fish resources, can we: ã maintain public control of OUR fish resource? ã manage for long-term ecosystem health? ã promote green jobs and real living wages? ã promote fairer rules for small-scale fishermen? ã strengthen coastal and fishing communities? ã get a financial return to reinvest in better ocean management? Yes, we can!
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  Cap-Rent-Recycle: Common Sense on Catch Shares ãmaintainpubliccontrolofOURshresource?ãmanageforlong-termecosystemhealth?ãpromotegreenjobsandreallivingwages?ãpromotefairerrulesforsmall-scaleshermen?ãstrengthencoastalandshingcommunities?ãgetanancialreturntoreinvestinbetteroceanman-agement? Yeswecan!Unfortunately,theU.S.federalgovernment(stewardofthepublic’ssh)iscurrentlymovinginthewrongdirec-tion—rushingtogiveawayaccessprivilegestopublicshresources(calledcatchshares),forfreeandpracti-callyforever,toindividualsandprivatecompanies.Thispracticeestablishesacommoditymarketwherepublicresourcesareboughtandsoldbytheseprivateentities withnoreturntothepublic.Thisoutdatedapproachtosheriesmanagement,calledindividualshingquotas,rationalizationor,moreac-curately,“sheryaccessprivatization,”willlikelyconsoli-datetheU.S.shingindustryandpromoteecologicallyharmfulindustrialshingpractices.Countriesthathavetriedprivatizedcatch-sharesys-temsoftenexperiencejobloss,lowerwagesandthreatstoindependentshingculture.Privatizedcatch-sharesystemsrewardindustrializedseafoodproduction,oftenattheexpenseofhealthier,greener,saferandmorelocalseafoodproducers.Itdoesn’thavetobethisway.AFAIRFISHcap-rent-re-cycleapproachto“sharingthesh”offerssh,shermenandthepublicabetterpathforwardwhenitcomestotheuseofcatchshares. Cap it! Itsoundssimple,anditis.Acapontheamountofshthatcanbetakenannuallyisthekeytoendingoversh-ing.Overshingisstraightforwardbiology.Recently,theNationalMarineFisheriesService(NMFS)—theDepartmentofCommerceagencythatmanagesU.S.shresourcesonbehalfofallU.S.people—hasrec-ognizedtheprimaryconservationroleofcatchcaps. Annualcatchcaps(thatincludeaprecautionaryap-proachtosettingtheannualallowedtakeofshtoaccountforunknownhappeningsinashery)arenowtheprimaryconservationtooltohelprestorefederallymanagedmarineshpopulationsandendovershing. 1 Thisisgood. Rent it! Oncecatchcapsareinplace,thegovernmentmaywanttouseamarket-basedmethodtoallocateportionsofthecappedcatch(theseportionsaretheactual“shares”inthetotalcatch-sharesystem).Internationally,thecurrentbestmethodtoachieveoutcomesforthegreatergoodisforgovernmenttorentcatchsharesdirectlytoeligibleentitiessuchasindepen-dentshermenorcommunity-basedshingassociations.   Suchrentalagreementscanbebasedoncompetitivecriteria(e.g.themosteco-friendlyshingmethod)or  W  henitcomestomanagementofU.S.shresources,canwe: FISH CapRentRecycle  non-competitive(e.g.directallocationstocommunitiesthatincludeperformancerequirements).Qualitymarketandprogramdesignisthekey!Ifshermenarechargedaresourcerent,thispaymentcanreplaceorreducetheneedforthemtobechargedforarangeofgovernmentservices,suchasonboardobservers.Underprivatizedcatch-shareprogramsshermenoftenpaytwice—oncetorentorbuyquotafromprivatecatch-share“holders,”andasecondtimetopaygovernmentfees.ManyU.S.federalagenciesusearentalapproachtoal-locatecommercialaccesstopublicresourcessuchasoil,timberandtheradiospectrum.Ironically,theU.S.Depart-mentofCommerceistheonlyfederalagencyreluctanttochargeforthecommercialuseofpublicnaturalresources.Namibia,oneoftheworld’stop10shingnationsusesacap-rent-recycleapproachwithgreatsuccess(seeourfactsheetonNamibia). Well-designedrentalagreementscanmaintainpubliccontrolofourcommonassets—likesh—andgener-ateeconomic,socialandenvironmentalbenetsfortheUnitedStates.Importantly,ifrentalagreementsarexed-termandnon-transferable,thentheseagreementscanbemodiedovertimeascircumstanceschange.Theexistingprecedentofgiftingcatchsharestoafewentitiesforfreeandpracticallyforeverisproblematicandinternationallydiscredited.Thispracticeprivatizesaccesstosh,hindersmarketcompetitionbycreatingspecial-interestbenets,cuts jobsandwages,promotesharmfulindustrialshingprac-ticesandcanevenviolateinternationallaw. 2 Iceland,aleadingshingnation,isnowtryingtoworkouthowtoswitchfromaprivatizedcatch-sharemarkettoapubliclyruncap-rent-recyclemarket. Recycle the revenue! Thereinvestmentofrentalrevenuesintooceanpolicyandprogramsisurgentlyrequiredandconsistentwiththepri-oritiesoftheObamaadministrationandCongresstosup-porteconomicdevelopmentinitiatives—includinggreen jobs—andtoenhancenaturalresourcemanagement.Oncefederalpolicyrmlyestablishesthatcommercialshingentitiesshouldpaythepublictocatchshinac-cordwithadenedsetofsocietalvaluesandobjectives(ratherthanpayaprivateentity),thecentralissuesthen become:ãhowtotransitiontothisapproach;ãhowmarketsandrentalagreementsbetweenthegovernmentstewardandshingentitiesshouldbestructured;ãhowrentalrevenueshouldbemanagedanddis- bursed;andãhowwecanbuilduponandimprovethissystemovertime,whilestillrespectingexistingshingentitiesandfuturegenerations.TheFAIRFISHcap-rent-recycleapproachisafairandequitablewaytoshareaccesstoU.S.shresources.Privatizationisnot.Endnotes 1NationalMarineFisheriesService,  Magnuson-Stevens Act Provi-sions; Annual Catch Limits; National Standard Guidelines, 50CFR part 600 NationalMarineFisheriesServicewebsite.http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/msa2007/docs/acl_nal_rule_as_signed_ version.pdf 2UnitedNations,HumanRightsCommittee,InternationalCov-enantonCivilandPoliticalRights,(91 st session) Communication No. 1306/2004. CCPR/C/91/D/1306/2004. December2007,at20. For more information:  web:www.foodandwaterwatch.orgemail:info@fwwatch.orgphone:(202)683-2500(DC)ã(415)293-9900(CA)Copyright©October2009Food&WaterWatch Out of all fish managed under a fisheriesmanagement plan…a portion annually are designated as the “totalallowable catch” that may be sustainably fished…and this smaller number of fish is divided intoindividual quotas or “catch shares.”How these catch shares are allotted makes all thedifference!
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