Letter: Privatisation on the high seas

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The Independent Online
Sir: Nicholas Roe ('Let's float the fishing issue', 8 August) encourages us to privatise the sea in order to stem fish stock depletion. Unfortunately, experience tells us that market economics and environmental protection do not always go hand-in-hand.

Consider the analogous case of logging companies in North America, which have found that forest management produces too low a financial return on investment. Sadly, it makes better economic sense to clear-cut a whole old-growth forest and invest the money on the stock market than earn money by harvesting its timber sustainably.

Furthermore, even if some heavily-constrained utility-type company were allowed to bid for areas of the sea, surely the migratory nature of fish 'stocks' and the lack of physical enclosure would make it financially prudent to 'harvest' whole migrations before they pass into a 'competitor's' area (allowing others to do the same).

Surely the rather obvious, if unglamorous, answer appears to involve international co-operation to develop a set of rules that are then enforced with a genuine commitment by the participants?

Yours sincerely,


Ethical Consumer

Research Association


9 August