Money Quote

by , 23 September 2010

Pavan Sukhdev, Head of the UNEP Green Economy Initiative, and previously Managing Director in the Global Markets Division at Deutsche Bank, has some remarkably lucid things to say about fisheries in this month’s Frontiers in Ecology and Environment:

“Economics is the science of scarce resources. What is scarce here as a resource is not fishing capacity – in which every year we invest more, as a result of the subsidies that are targeted largely at the bigger fleets and the trawler fleets. What is scarce here is fish. So if you were to do ‘good’ economics, you would be focusing your efforts and your investments on increasing the stock of fish, not the stock of fishing capacity.”


“There is a lot of evidence to suggest that if, instead of targeting fiscal support toward subsidizing trawler fleets, we were to put it toward transitioning the whole fishing model – in other words, if you were to build up reserves in marine protected areas and support fishing communities during the transition period that it takes for fish stocks to revive – that would actually be a much better deployment of the same amount of fiscal resource. The reason this works is biologically and scientifically very simple: if a female fish were allowed to grow to twice its size [before capture], it could produce 10 to 100 times as many eggs.”


“We are not trying to create an alternative school of economics here. What we are trying to correct is an established and deeply entrenched method of resource allocation across the global economy – one that is remarkably inefficient, increasingly irresponsible, and which will ultimately defeat the agenda on sustainable development.”

Sukhdev is apparently about to release something called the Green Economy Report later this year, which I will definitely watch out for.