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March 30, 2006

A Bloody Good Idea

Something rather decent on the fishing front:

An area in the South Pacific twice the size of Portugal was declared the world's third largest marine reserve yesterday by the tiny nation of Kiribati.

Commercial fishing will be banned in the area, which covers nearly 74,000 square miles and is home to 120 species of coral and 520 species of fish.

The new reserve will cover the pristine coral reefs and atolls of the Phoenix Islands, one of the three distinct island groups that make up Kiribati. The others are the Gilbert Islands and Line Islands.

"If the coral and reefs are protected, then the fish will grow and bring us benefit," said Anote Tong, the president of Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas).

"In this way all species of fish can be protected so none becomes depleted or extinct."
Conservation International and the New England Aquarium will establish an endowment fund that pays for the park's management costs and compensates the Kiribati government for revenue lost from granting fewer commercial fishing licences.

The important point is in that last paragraph. For many of these Pacific micro-states those fishing licences are the only form of external revenue. And they don’t actually bring in enough to make sure that the holders don’t overfish. I hope that "management" will include the odd gunboat to keep the illegal fishers away.

So effectively, those two groups have bought the fishing rights and then decided not to fish. Similar to someone buying forest and then leaving it alone. All good stuff.....the sort of thing that free market environmentalists like me are in favour of. Create a property right then sell it to those who value it most. If convervationists actually do value such things as highly as they say they do then at least some of those rights will be bought by them.

March 30, 2006 in Environmentalism | Permalink


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Lovely pictures in the printed paper. Dash out and buy a copy ;-)

Posted by: the great radacto | Mar 30, 2006 9:55:40 AM

Im willing to bet that I'm the only person to have ever blogged about Kiribati's fishing rights before!

To the north, Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas and formerly The Gilbert Islands which, no, I hadn't heard of either*), a country which covers an area of the world's surface roughly the same size as Australia but of which only the tiniest litte fraction is solid ground, has recently leased its fishing rights to Taiwan. However, previously these had been in the hands of the PRC and when the Taiwan deal was announced they immediately pulled out all their workers who had been busily building roads and houses. See this construction, paid for by the Chinese, wasn't altruistic, it was dependent upon Kiribati's support for their "one China policy" and selling out to Taiwan is seen by Bejing as a betrayal.


Tim adds: Ah, well, that may be true but I could have blogged about them before. Mother’s cousin used to be the Governmor out there.

Posted by: Mark Holland | Mar 30, 2006 1:14:40 PM


Not a bad gig though.

Tim adds: Yeah, he was a specialist in being Governor of microstates that were still part of the Empire. Gilbert and Ellice Islands, Turks and Caicos, Anguilla (just after the world’s only rebeliion to stop being independent and return to being a colony) and Montserrat.

Posted by: Mark Holland | Mar 30, 2006 1:34:51 PM

The "fishing rights" were on a year-year basis. this appears to be a permanent arrangement. If there was no bidding or tendering for this perpetual "fishing right" among the preservationists and potential fishing concerns, then it's not clear who valued the right more.

Posted by: MikeinAppalachia | Mar 30, 2006 4:38:51 PM