Catch shares: A dangerous weapon in 'war' on environment
By Wenonah Hauter - 06/16/11 04:21 PM ET
Last week Bruce Babbitt, former Secretary of the Interior under the Clinton administration, called on President Obama to stand up to a Congress he described as bent on destroying our nation’s environment. Babbit went so far as to say Congress had “declared war on our land, water and natural resources.” Perhaps this is true. But while Babbitt was spot-on in decrying some federal initiatives, he also inexplicably approved of at least one that is environmentally destructive: catch shares, a widely unpopular fisheries management program that consolidates and industrializes our fisheries.
A means to essentially privatize fishing, catch shares divide up the fish in any given region, often granting fishing privileges to a handful of larger corporate interests while pushing out smaller-scale, more traditional fishermen. Since they award those operations that fish the fastest and hardest, they incentivize the use of larger-scale boats, more damaging gear, and wasteful fishing practices that hurt fish stocks and the habitats on which they depend.