Paul Krugman points us to the success story of the rebound of US fish stocks. He then makes an amazing leap to climate change saying, “Fighting climate change isn’t really all that different from saving fisheries; if we ever get around to doing the obvious, it will be easier and more successful than anyone now expects.”
Now the big caveat: Yes, US fisheries seem to be recovering. But that’s not true for much of the rest of the world. And, given that the United States imports around 91 percent of its seafood, this is a pretty crucial caveat.
All told, the best-managed fisheries around the world — the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland — only make up about 16 percent of the global catch, according to a recent paper in Marine Pollution Bulletin by Tony Pitcher and William Cheung of the University of British Columbia.
By contrast, more than 80 percent of the world’s fish are caught in the rest of the world, in places like Asia and Africa — where rules are often less strict. The data here is fairly patchy, but the paper notes that many of these nations are less likely to follow the UN’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, and there’s evidence that “serious depletions” may be occurring…
In other words, overfishing, like climate change, is a global problem that the US can’t fix on its own. Our fish stocks are rebounding, and our carbon emissions are falling, but much of the rest of the world is moving in the wrong direction on both issues.
I agree that the rest of the world has environmental policy that is further from optimal than the U.S. But, I don't think this is a good argument for throwing up our hands in frustration and shutting down environmental policy. Economically, the benefits of U.S. climate policy seem to exceed the costs, even without an international agreement and without a zero discount rate*. Politically, the U.S. has an important leadership role. China and India might follow the U.S. down the climate policy road but I doubt if they are going to lead.
Here is an 2005 post from Gloria Helfand on unilateral climate policy. I've written on the benefits of unilateral climate policy in the past but, alas, the Google is failing me this morning.
*Even though grades are turned in I'm time constrained this morning (how many research and review deadlines have I missed?) so I am forgoing a link to a report that I hope backs up this assertion. The key here, I think, is that anything that reduces the U.S. demand for coal is going to be economically efficient (with apologies to all of my friends from eastern KY). Links and counter-points are most welcome in the comments section!
We are 8th grades students at [redacted] School in [city]. We are currently doing a project about the North Carolina Ocean and coast in science. We need to teach a class to our classmates. Our topics are environmental and economical importance to out coast/ocean, environmental concerns, economic concerns relating to the coast, and human impact on the ocean/coast. We were wondering if you have any advice. Also, if you knew of an easy demonstration we could show our class to explain this more visually. Thank you for your help.
From the transcripted minutes of the October 2012 meeting, here is my favorite Whitehead contribution:
Just playing with some numbers; I chose ten random numbers between 1,000 and 5,000. The simple average is about 2,900. Applying Boyles’ Law to these numbers gives me about 3,400, so it is about 450 greater than the simple average. Then applying a trend line gives me about 941 greater than the simple average. This doesn’t prove anything; it just shows that there are at least three straightforward ways of coming up with a number, and they give very different numbers. I don’t know which one is better. In terms of forecasting I think the trend line is better, but who knows?
Boyle's Law is an ad-hoc formula for determining allocations of quota between commercial and recreational sectors. The Socioeconomic Panel concluded that determining sector allocations by Boyle's Law would be less preferred relative to determining these by economic efficiency (either intersector trading or crossing marginal valuation curves). Boyle's Law is currently being used to determine allocations, but it is now called the Bowtie Rule, I think.
For more than a century, federal scientists have worked on Pivers Island near the historic town of Beaufort and the beaches of Emerald Isle studying the ocean and the fish, turtles and dolphins of its seagrass estuaries and rocky reefs.
Surrounded by three university labs, it’s one of a handful of oceanography hubs in the nation and the only government research center between New Jersey and Miami studying Atlantic fish populations.
So it came as a surprise when the federal government proposed doing away with the ocean science laboratory, which opened in 1899.
Tucked in President Barack Obama’s 218-page proposed budget for 2015 was a one-sentence mention of a plan to close an unnamed lab to save money. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration subsequently identified it as North Carolina’s historic research station. ...
The coastal and ocean agency plans to shift instead to grants to non-agency scientists. Closing the lab would mean the loss of 108 jobs locally. NOAA intends to relocate the federal scientists. What will happen to the lab’s 31 government contractors is less clear. ...
The lab sits just inside Beaufort Inlet, one of a handful of safe deepwater passages through the state’s barrier islands to the open sea. Duke University has a research station next door. NCSU and UNC-Chapel Hill labs are a short drive away.
Most people in the state think of coastal Carteret County, with its beaches, rental cottages and Beaufort’s historic district, as being all about tourism. But marine science has grown into a major local employer. NOAA and the three universities have a combined 163,000 square feet of research buildings and 40 labs. All told, marine science directly employs more than 500 people locally and injects $58 million into the economy, according to the county economic development council.
In addition, the state Division of Marine Resources is located in the area giving the place an awesome research atmosphere. My sources (yes, I have "sources"!) tell me it is just too expensive to keep the aging Beaufort Lab open. And I'll believe it (additional grants substituting for the federal research) when I see it.
I spent January 29 and 30 at the Sheraton Silver Spring participating in this Workshop (where there were a lot of great presentations from NMFS economists). I was given 10 minutes to talk on the "Panel Discussion on Management Needs, Future Directions." I tried to make four points (which is pretty much my research agenda if I can ever focus on NMFS data).
1. Increased use of existing MRIP data is needed
The councils need fairly mundane valuation models, tailored geographically, for management decisions. A basic NRUM with species groups with the most recent MRIP data would be a major advancement. It would provide information on the value of catch that could be used in discussion of recreational quota, bag limits, etc. There is a lot of data, it is generally good (in the most basic sense), and it is underutilized.
2. Choice experiments are not a panacea for contingent valuation
NMFS has become reliant on choice experiment surveys for valuation. The major benefit of choice experiments in the marine recreational fishing context is that they are good for valuing individual characteristics of the fishing trip and getting information on the no trip option. Other than their great expense, the drawbacks of using choice experiments in the recreational fishing context is not well known.
Choice experiments haven’t faced the scrutiny of CVM surveys. In my opinion, they quickly rose to prominence as an alternative to CVM in the 1990s by assertion. I say that because choice experiments potentially face the same sort of problems as CVM (e.g., anchoring, ordering, scope, etc) but the profession has not demanded examination of these issues.
CVM surveys have been shown to suffer from anchoring bias, ordering effects and incentive incompatibility in multiple choice questions. The reaction has been to ask a single question. Similar effects have been found with choice experiments with no apparent reaction. Only a few studies have considered these problems with choice experiments.
CVM surveys have been criticized for passing internal scope tests but not split-sample external scope tests. The reaction has been to disparage CVM applications that don’t pass external scope tests. With the exception of a few studies, choice experiments routinely pass internal scope tests with no criticism that these are weaker tests.
The use of choice experiments by the NMFS is to be commended. But more recognition of their challenges is warranted.
3. Major improvements can be the MRIP with simple add-on surveys
MRIP asks for the number of trips taken within the state of intercept. The linked model can be used to assess changes in catch and site access on the overall number of trips. But this is inconsistent with the RUM because the RUM does not have an opt-out alternative. A negative change in fishing characteristics would cause trips to reallocate to other sites, modes and target species while the overall number of trips stays the same.
Simulating the effect of these negative changes in a linked model is inconsistent and biases the estimate of the change in the number of trips. The bias cannot be signed due to the forcing of trips. If no trip would be preferred and the angler is required through simulation to travel elsewhere then the bias is positive (i.e., too many trips would result from the linked model simulation). If the angler would prefer a trip to another site then the bias is negative (i.e., too few trips would result from the linked model simulation).
The basic RUM would greatly benefit from two additional pieces of data in add-on surveys:
A CVM question that asks if the most recent trip were $X higher, would you still have taken the trip? This would provide an opt-out option for modeling changes in the number of trips and/or,
Site specific RP trip data would allow for estimation of a repeated RUM (e.g., this was done in the 1997 SE add-on).
Both of these questions are relatively easy to implement in a short add-on survey. My guess is that this would be much cheaper than the choice experiment surveys.
Another extension is to ask contingent behavior (SP) follow-up questions. Contingent behavior trip questions are also cheap to design and feasible to implement. Questions about changes in bag and size limits, trip cost and expected catch would be valuable.
4. Joint estimation of MRIP and NMFS choice experiment data would strengthen both models
It isn’t clear if the coefficient on the cost variable in choice experiments is similar to the RUM travel cost estimate, which is probably more reliable (if it is measured accurately). Since the catch value is an inverse function of the cost coefficient, a biased cost coefficient could have large effects. It should be straightforward to combine the MRIP data to the NMFS choice experiment data and jointly estimate the model to determine if the cost coefficients are different. This was the point made by Adamowicz et al. (1994) in JEEM that helped launch choice experiments in environmental economics but joint estimation of choice experiment and revealed preference data has largely been ignored since.
Also, simple preference questions can be jointly estimated with MRIP data. Single questions on the 1997 Southeast and 1998 Pacific add-on MRFSS economic surveys could be used to jointly estimate management preferences.
Jusst an example of why open access fisheries need to be regulated (and are expensive to regulate):
In one of the largest oyster cases in recent years, the Maryland Natural Resources Police Wednesday night arrested a Virginia truck driver and seized a tractor-trailer filled with oysters, many of them undersized...
This is the halfway point of Maryland’s six-month oyster harvesting season, a time when poachers tend to seek out undersized oysters to make up for the increasing scarcity of the resource.
Since the start of the season in October, NRP has been conducting saturation patrols by boat and aerial surveillance from Maryland State Police helicopters with long-range cameras. In addition, the agency is making full use of its newest tool, a system of radar units and cameras called the Maritime Law Enforcement Information Network, MLEIN, which allows officers to track vessels and “see” over the horizon.
MLEIN has been used to make several oyster poaching cases so far this season, said Col.
The 2010 Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan, fostered by Governor Martin O’Malley, contains a robust enforcement component to protect the resource, habitat and sanctuaries.
“When the Governor initiated his oyster recovery plan, enforcement was a key component to assure the public that its investment would be protected,” Johnson said. “Stepped-up patrols, MLEIN and information from the public, helps us keep our promise to everyone who loves the Chesapeake Bay and its bounty, and believes in its future. Poachers are learning that there is nowhere to hide.”
It is a shame that the partial government shutdown has some innocent casualties:
The nation’s king-crab fishing fleet, prepared to deploy off the coast of southwest Alaska for the start of a season that supplies holiday tables and restaurants around the world, was instead stalled in port on Tuesday by the federal government shutdown.
Crews and captains that in ordinary times would have been dropping their crab pots at precisely noon in Bristol Bay, 4,000 miles from the nation’s capital, were cooling their heels in places like Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands, waiting, watching the news and hoping for a break.
The federal workers needed to process the permits for each boat’s catch quota were on furlough. ...
Representative Don Young, a 21-term Republican from Alaska, has been among a group of legislators trying to free up personnel to get the paperwork processed. Last week, Mr. Young, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Representative Doc Hastings of Washington, also Republicans, sent a letter to the secretary of commerce, Penny Pritzker, saying that since crab industry fees pay for federal management of the fishery, federal managers should properly be on job, not on furlough.
Mr. Young said in a telephone interview that he had tried to follow up, but that Commerce Department phones were mostly going unanswered in the shutdown.
The other day I suggested that there is a role for government in avoiding tragedy of the commons and I still think that. I haven't seen any angry free market environmentalisteconomist in the news claiming that we should just open the oceans, tragedy-style, but I might bet it has happened. Any links? I'd like to give it a read.
"This blog aims to look at more of the microeconomic ideas that can be used toward environmental ends. Bringing to bear a large quantity of external sources and articles, this blog presents a clear vision of what economic environmentalism can be."
Don't believe what they're saying
And allow me a quick moment to gush: ... The env-econ.net blog was more or less a lifeline in that period of my life, as it was one of the few ways I stayed plugged into the env. econ scene. -- Anonymous
... the Environmental Economics blog ... is now the default homepage on my browser (but then again, I guess I am a wonk -- a word I learned on the E.E. blog). That is a very nice service to the profession. -- Anonymous
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