Thursday, January 29, 2015

in my wheelhouse: fisheries economics and the Rule of Unintended Consequences

When I first got an inkling that I done fucked up by going to grad school, that I was laying the foundation for working for the bad guys (environmental special interests, green Marxists & the US Government), I already had one foot out the door. I was driving 80 miles every Friday night to go lobstering on Saturday with Chuck Z, a fisherman from my home town. We would fish for about 12 hours, and it was fall in Boston, so it was cold, often windy and/or rainy, and I would be wet and filthy for 11 of those 12 hours. It was also the high point of my week, and the only thing I looked forward to.

 Look, I had a chip on my shoulder. I came out of undergrad with a science degree, published several pieces of research as primary author and investigator in reputable journals on some practical AND some esoteric shit. As far as I know, I was the first person to predict that in most cases, where you don't give fee fun money through subsidies,  increasing regulation of commercial fishing is worse for conservation of fish populations than simply leaving fishermen alone and letting market forces drive demand.

 I got a year's worth of college credits and got to live in Scotland to try to prove that. I never had to take liberal arts classes. It was awesome. 

...and thus you have Orange Roughy, a fish where the vast majority of what is available is caught illegally, and sells for $30-50 a pound wholesale, because it's worth sneaking 6,000 miles to catch it at that price, even if you get caught and your boat forfeited 3 times out of 4. OTOH, when it was selling for $3 a pound but the money went to some uppity-ass brown-skinned folks who only had to travel 600 miles to go get it but started being able to do crazy shit like have a car and go to school with the kids of folks who passed the paper bag test... well, that's the kind of shit that gets SWPL folks like U2's bono to write lyrics to whine out while wearing tinted douchbag glasses.

 (But eat up, folks. Them fish are doomed with the instant black market that the all-white folks at Green, inc. created). 

      At any rate, I was talking about how awesome it felt to fish commercially on the weekends when I was in grad school and realized that as a marine scientist, virtually everyone I could possibly end up working for would be the type of folks I loathe.


Ken said...


So, related to this in general, what are your thoughts on the recent direction regulatory bodies have been heading with respect to the fishing industry in the northeast, specifically with cod?

Paul, Dammit! said...

There have been very strong accusations of data manipulation, poor survey design and exclusion of input towards more accurate data collection. The response has been to exclude the folks doing the complaining and award access to approved groups, rather than include data collected by industry-funded researchers.
Cod was a political football used purely to get a radical environmental group's agenda made into policy. We've seen the result. It was spearheaded by said radical group's mouthpiece, a darling of the Chicago Democratic machine, who was a shoe-in for appointment. At any rate we got EXACTLY what they planned. Massive profit for their associates, exclusion of every other person.

End result speaks more eloquently than any speculation on my part. There are more parasites employed in management and opposition groups than there are fishermen. Green Inc wins again.