New Ideas for World Oceans Day

D.C., June 9, 2009—This week the
United Nations is observing World Oceans Day. The Competitive Enterprise
Institute believes this makes it an appropriate time to think about realistic
means of saving the world’s oceanic resources. 

“What often goes ignored is the fact that free market
approaches have saved parts of the ocean that government and bureaucrats have
driven to the brink of destruction,” says Iain Murray, Director of Projects
and Analysis. 

He offers five suggestions that will deliver quick environmental

  • Introduce
    “grow and trade” programs for fisheries. 
    These programs, also called Individual Transferable Quotas, have
    seen fish stocks recover and thrive in areas as far apart as Iceland and New Zealand.  They encourage responsible management of
    fisheries rather than overfishing.
  • Conclude
    an international agreement to end subsidies for deep-sea fishing.  Research from the environmental
    organization Oceana has shown that most deep-sea fishing would be
    uneconomic without these subsidies. 
    Government action is therefore contributing to environmental
  • Allow
    homesteading of ocean resources to create genuine oceanic property
    rights.  Privately-owned reefs
    operate well in Japan.  Other areas could also be “homesteaded”
    and looked after by owners who will use common law means to stop pollution
    and degradation.
  • President
    Obama should call for an end to the European Union’s Common Fisheries
    Program, which is a bureaucrat’s dream but an environmentalist’s
    nightmare.  America can use its restored
    leadership role to make a genuine difference here.
  • Stop
    the removal of disused oil rigs, which have become artificial reefs and
    home to millions of animals, who will die if their habitat is destroyed.

adds, “It is ironic that we talk about the freedom of the seas, but bureaucrats
see it as their preserve. We should let the free enterprise system work its
wonders to help save the oceans and fisheries, because governments have failed
whenever they have tried to do so.” 

The UN has also used World Oceans Day to draw attention
again to the problem of piracy.  See here
for a proposal by CEI Senior Fellow Eli
that could help solve that problem. 

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