I missed this when it came out a couple of days ago, but a study by Daniel Pauly at the University of British Columbia shows how small-scale fishers1 are short changed by “well-intentioned eco-labelling initiatives and ill-conceived fuel subsidies”. I’d expect no less from Pauly, who has always been a champion of artisanal fisheries. Industrial fishermen2 receive 200 times higher fuel subsidies than artisanal fishers, who also discard far less fish as waste. Campaigns to persuade shoppers to buy eco-friendly fish have not paid off either, according to Pauly.
“For the amount of resources invested, we haven’t seen significant decrease in demand for species for which the global stocks are on the edge of collapse,” says Pauly. “Market-based initiatives, while well-intentioned, unduly discriminate against small scale fishers for their lack of resources to provide data for certification.”
Fish really does represent the ethical frontier of food. Farmed pollutes and wild destroys the stocks. What’s a piscivorous person to do? Get rid of the subsidies, say Pauly and his colleagues. Without subsidies, large-scale fisheries would not survive, small fishers would thrive supplying local markets, and global fish stocks would have an opportunity to rebound.
So we can overfish them again?