To the editor:
In his story headlined, “Halt to fishing funds eyed,” the Times, Thursday, April 18) Richard Gaines presented what I believe was a one-sided, negative view of the fisheries management tool known as “catch shares.”
Despite what its critics allege, catch shares represent the triumph of property rights over more intrusive but often less-effective government regulation. There is simply no justifiable reason for Congress to micromanage the decisions being made related to federal fisheries and deprive the people involved in these fisheries the option of considering catch shares.
Traditional fishery management is, to put it bluntly, a failure. Over the past decade the U.S. government has spent, on average, more than $70 million annually bailing out failed federally managed fisheries.
Most commercial fishermen are small businessmen and women. Catch share programs allow local stakeholders in a fishery to know ahead of time how many fish they can catch in a season, giving them flexibility and enabling them to better manage resources and businesses.
Further, these management programs give individual fishermen a stake in ensuring that fisheries are maintained at sustainable levels, ensuring they remain viable for future fishing seasons.
Prohibiting the use of catch shares undermines the basic tenets of the free market, imposing congressional will where it is not necessary. Catch share programs have proven successful in both the management and conservation of fisheries in many parts of the country.
Moreover, unlike traditional fishery management programs, catch shares can yield significant federal budget savings in the present fiscal budgetary environment a worthy goal indeed.
Frontiers of Freedom, Washington, D.C.