The profit motive that has driven the world's ﬁsheries to near collapse could also save them. In a review of four fisheries, economists at the Australian National University in Canberra and the University of Washington conclude that reducing fishing yields in the short term boosts fishing profits in the long run. The reason: as fish become more plentiful, it costs less to catch them. There is a catch: the people who reduce their catch to rebuild stocks need to be the same ones that benefit from the reduced costs of fishing, which implies some form of exclusive access. Moreover, people who are not fishing now because it is unprofitable cannot be allowed to join in later. “Individual transferable quotas” would give fisherfolk shares in a total allowable catch, the economists suggest. Fishery managers in Alaska and New Zealand have tried such a system with positive results. Reel in the analysis from the December 7, 2007, Science.
@dbiello Biello is the award-winning senior reporter for environment and energy at Scientific American. He has also written on subjects ranging from astronomy to zoology for both the Web site and magazine. He has been reporting on the environment and energy since 1999--long enough to be cynical but not long enough to be depressed. He is a contributor to the Instant Egghead video series, 60-Second Science podcasts, and host of "Beyond the Light Switch" as well as a forthcoming documentary on ethanol for PBS. He is the author of a children's book on bullet trains and is currently working on a book for grown-ups about whether the Earth has entered a new geologic epoch thanks to people's impacts and what should be done about this Anthropocene.