ENB:07:13 [Next] . [Previous] . [Contents]

IN THE CORRIDORS II

The New Zealand delegation, in an unusual move, tabled a three-page response to two articles published in ECO, an NGO publication circulated at the Conference. New Zealand took this measure after unsuccessfully attempting to respond in ECO to the stories. These articles, written by Leith Duncan, discuss both private ownership of fisheries resources in New Zealand and the introduction of individual transferable quotas (ITQs). ITQs are schemes through which shares of a stock are allocated to individual fishers, based on their historical catch, in an effort to ensure sustainable use. New Zealand's response states that there is little evidence to support the thesis of the articles that "private ownership of fisheries resources is inimical to the conservation of fisheries and the welfare of fishing people." The ECO article attributes depletion of stocks to the implementation of ITQ schemes. These, however, are often seen by fisheries economists as a means of putting an end to the so-called "Tragedy of the Commons." When property rights are not clearly assigned, individuals will, in a classic example of the "Prisoner's Dilemma," tend to catch as much as they can, regardless of sustainability, in order to harvest the fish before somebody else does. It is argued that when property rights are assigned, fishers have an economic incentive to harvest their own quotas in the most sustainable manner. Discussion in the corridors indicated that New Zealand's response was a sign that some governments are taking the views of NGOs quite seriously. Yet, the question being asked was why, with such a range of predatory fishing countries available as target species, New Zealand was singled out by ECO as its by-catch.