Who owns the fish in the sea?

It takes at least five minutes of discussion between a grandfather and a grandson to explain who owns the ocean and who can fish in the U.S. seas. Check out this animated video produced by the Center for Investigative Reporting as they share their perspective on the catch shares system in which “the right to fish belongs to a number of private individuals who have traded, bought and sold these rights in unregulated markets” (better known as “a few players control most of the fishery”). Although, as the Environmental Defense Fund notes from a recent study of fisheries in Canada and the U.S the catch shares system has some benefits, such as:

  • The amount of fish allowed to be caught increased 19% over 10 years of catch shares.
  • Wasted fish (bycatch) decreased 66% over 10 years, meaning more fish in the ocean and healthier populations.
  • Fleet-wide revenues increased 68% after 10 years and fisherman safety improved three-fold.

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