Texas Paper Backs IFQs

Brownsville, Texas’ Valley Morning Star weighs in on Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQs):

One promising solution to the tragedy of the commons in a commercial fishery is the use of individual fishing quotas, which grant established captains a guaranteed and transferable share of allowable catch in a given fishery. This decreases the incentive to plunder, and increases the incentive to manage the fishery for maximum long-term sustainability.

It also permits fishers to catch their quota at their own pace, instead of participating in the mad crush that ensues during fishing season. This means seafood will be fresher for distributors and consumers throughout the year, and earn higher prices for the commercial fisher. As it now stands, the glut of product generated during a brief fishing season brings down the price fishers get for their catch.

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Critics fret that such innovations will lead to the “privatizing of the oceans.” We just don’t see that as a major threat. All IFQs do is grant commercial fishers a temporary and transferrable ownership stake in the fishery. And, as experience shows, pride of ownership and a long-term personal stake in the health of a resource naturally make most people better stewards.

Well put. Successful implementation of IFQs would provide yet another example of property rights and markets working to advance natural resource conservation. Reason’s Michael De Alessi is one of the leading voices promoting IFQs; see here, here, and here for a sample of his work on the topic. For more on IFQs, check out Reason’s Private Conservation Resource Center, and don’t miss