Did you know you can change the weather by not eating deep sea fish? Me neither. But apparently fish and other marine life in the high seas contain $148 billion dollars worth of carbon dioxide. (The carbon price used, which includes mitigation costs, is apparently almost $100/tonne — a tad higher than the current EU carbon price of 5 Euro. The “price” was derived from a US govt agency, wouldn’t you know, not the free market.)
The high seas catch is worth a mere $16 billion and is only 1% of all fish caught. But it follows that either hungry people will have to pay a bit more for their fish, or fishermen will switch to take more fish from the low seas. Either that, or hungry people can just eat more rice, right? And it’s not like anyone cares about the protein content of poor people’s diets is it? (Look who made a hyperbolic fuss about a potential 5% reduction in the mineral content of rice by 2050.)
Lets think for a minute about how anyone would make a global oceanic ban work? Since people only catch deep sea fish for fun, I suppose we just ask them to stop, right. Or not. Anyone smell a global bureaucracy coming to guard the oceans from fisherpeople? It would need full time satellites, custom boat-spotting image-recognition software, lots of coastguards, helicopters and maybe an aircraft carrier. They could set up offices in Geneva. The UN would love it.
The fake market gets us into trouble every time
If we pay people to not catch some deep sea fish, pretty soon every man and his swimming dog will be not-catching all kinds of fish. There will be a whole industry of people who could’ve caught fish but didn’t.
Except the cynic in me knows how this is really done. Just like in Peter Spencer’s case with the monster value of carbon-credits on farms, there is no need to compensate the farmers or fishermen. Governments just legislate that fishermen are banned from the high seas. Then the government helps themselves to the carbon credits, while the fishermen get nothing and go broke. And we all know where the money ends up. In most cases the government was already broke, the carbon credits are worthless, and the banks still make a motza.
I would have commented on the carbon price, the feedbacks and assumptions but this is an orphan press release as far as I can tell. See the reference*.
Report supports shutdown of all high seas fisheries
Fish and aquatic life living in the high seas are more valuable as a carbon sink than as food and should be better protected, according to research from the University of British Columbia.
The study found fish and aquatic life remove 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year, a service valued at about $148 billion US. This dwarfs the $16 billion US paid for 10 million tonnes of fish caught on the high seas annually.
“Countries around the world are struggling to find cost effective ways to reduce their carbon emissions,” says Rashid Sumaila, director of the UBC Fisheries Economics Research Unit. “We’ve found that the high seas are a natural system that is doing a good job of it for free.”
Sumaila helped calculate the economic value of the carbon stored by life in the high seas by applying prices — which include the benefits of mitigating the costs of climate change–to the annual quantity of carbon absorbed.
The report argues that the high seas — defined as an area more than 200 nautical miles from any coast and outside of national jurisdiction–should be closed to all fishing as only one per cent of fish caught annually are exclusively found there.
“Keeping fish in the high seas gives us more value than catching them,” says Sumaila. “If we lose the life in the high seas, we’ll have to find another way to reduce emissions at a much higher cost.”
The study was commissioned by the Global Ocean Commission and was conducted independently by Sumaila and Alex Rogers of Somerville College, Oxford.
Carbon prices were derived from data provided by the U.S. Federal Government Interagency Working Group.
*A press release was released about a report that isn’t linked, or properly named, nor is it referenced. But they are probably very nice people. Maybe they just forgot the link?
Image: Wikimedia – Tuna Danilo Cedrone UNFAO