CEO of Weyerhaeuser appointed to run the national
forests. As part of the deal, he gets to keep his
old job. Federal law wouldn't allow it, of course.
It's a simple conflict of interest. But when it comes
to the folks who regulate ocean fishing, conflicts
of interest are not only permissible, they're a regular
part of the game. Full
Pacific council pushes plan to quash historic coral
reserve. Council puts corals, spiny lobster and
rare monk seal at risk so a few can profit. Full
millions of lobsters, and monk seal pups starved to
death. Graphic (large file).
Friction. Industry resists Pew Commission’s
call for change. Full
mammals killed by Pacific fisheries. Graphic
to speak “fisheries”.
2: The Rockfish Files.
show the Pacific Fishery Management Council ignored
scientific advice as it let the bottom dwellers crash.
stocks are down. Hundreds of tons of imperiled
rockfish are killed and wasted as bycatch each year
in West Coast fisheries. Graphic
ownership of a public resource? The IFQ debate. Full
3: Essential Coral Gardens
Pacific council rejects plan to protect coral and sponge,
though the plan meant
little reduction in commercial fishing. Full
our Undersea Yellowstones. Scientists find
marine reserves build bigger fish and produce more young.
Baja to Bering. Exploring coral and sponge
secrets along the West Coast and Alaska. Graphic
effects: A conservation map of the North Pacific. Graphic
(very large file).
our Failed Fisheries.
you can do for the Pacific Ocean.
Pacific Ocean Conservation Directory.
A follow up article from Dec. 31, 2003, in the Honolulu
©2003 Cascadia Times
Plundering the Pacific
Private ownership of a public resource? The IFQ debate rages
The Pacific Fishery Management Council is set
to divvy up its groundfish fishery, one of the most valuable fisheries
on the West Coast. They have set up a committee composed of eight
trawlers, three representatives from the seafood processing industry,
and one representative each from tribes and an environmental group.
Missing from the list is a representative from the public, even
the though the public owns the resource.
Cascadia Times Fall 2003 issue, "Plundering the
Pacific," investigates the decline of the North Pacfic
Ocean and its wildlife in the wake of decades of industrial
The 24-page print edition contains numerous graphics and full-color
photographs that richly illustrate this report. Please support
Cascadia Times with your subscription
or by making a donation.
are available for $5 each. For reprint information, please
contact us at email@example.com.
While the committee's charge is to identify alternatives to reduce
capacity, the committee is primarily concerned with setting up individual
fishing quotas, known in fisheries management as an “IFQ system”,
that will give individual fishers a percentage of the catch in perpetuity.
Seafood processor reps on the council are pushing for quotas for
their industry, despite concerns raised by the U.S. Department of
Justice that such quotas, known as “processor quotas,”
would potentially violate antitrust law. A recent DOJ memo said
processor quotas could be anticompetitive and probably illegal.
It said reduced competition could bring reduced prices for catches
and higher prices for consumers.
Giving fishers a percentage of the catch would end the dangerous
and often wasteful “derby-style” competitive race for
fish. But processors, which face no such danger in their job, are
simply clamoring for protection from current and future competitors.
Recent mergers and consolidation within the processing industry
have already reduced competition. For example, the since 1983 the
Pacific Group has expanded from one processing and one distribution
facility to nearly 20 operating units after acquiring processing
and distribution companies in Mukilteo, Seattle, Spokane, Bellevue
and Westport, Wash.; Sacramento, Fresno and Eureka, Calif.; Warrenton,
Depoe Bay, Salem, Garibaldi, Portland, Newport, Bay City, Charleston
and Warrenton, Ore., and Nikiski, Alaska.
From 1996 until 2002, Congress placed a moratorium on IFQs because
of concerns with the impact of such systems on both fishermen and
the marine environment. Congress commissioned an exhaustive study
of IFQ systems by the National Research Council. Its
1999 study, “Sharing the Fish,” found both benefits
and risks of IFQ systems and recommended a number safeguards that
could advance conservation without disadvantage to fishermen and
With the moratorium expiring, in September 2003 the Pacific council
decided to develop such a system. Critics say the permanent allocation
to the groundfish fleet could be “a huge giveaway” that
would fail to protect fish and ocean ecosystems while setting an
important precedent of turning over a publicly owned resource to
The council's plan could lead to further consolidation in the industry.
It would not prevent one corporation from buying quota shares owned
by others. Rather than spreading the wealth of the ocean to family
fishermen and fishing communities already hard hit by drastically
reduced fish populations, consolidation could concentrate this wealth
into the hands of a few.
What would the public get in exchange? Probably nothing. There
is nothing in the law, for example, to ensure that depleted fish
populations like bocaccio will be returned to healthy levels.
Pending legislation in the House and Senate would set put into place
critical safeguards to prevent overconsolidation, ensure conservation
benefits and prevent what is currently a privilege (fishing) from
becoming a compensable property right. House Bill 2621 requires
limits on the number of shares any person or business can control.
It requires that
IFQ systems and shareholders be reviewed for conservation benefits
every seven years and decisions on whether to renew the system or
quota shares be based on the outcome of those reviews. Finally,
it establishes a national IFQ review panel, consisting of individuals
knowledgeable about fisheries management who would review IFQ systems.
In addition, each fishery management council must establish and
maintain an individual fishing quota review committee. n