Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Economic efficiency vs productive efficiency in the fisheries

Most people would be frosted by the economic gobbledygook sleight of hand the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council uses to throw everyone off balance. Economists have even been hired to spout malapropisms, and in the fog, the people paying the salaries of the Council Members got away with oceans full of fish.

Consolidation of control in the fisheries causes false economic benefit to communities, just like this picture might look like a successful hunting trip. In actuality, is all I got was a bunch of bleached bones.

One of the first malapropisms they used was the term "economic efficiency," to justify large and consolidated fishing and processing operations, controlled by the few. Market control is what they are after. It is happening all along the U.S. coasts now.

This article from back East makes a point that "economic efficiency" isn't what the tens of thousands of fishermen wanted. They just wanted to make a living, not get snookered out of a job, lose their markets, lose their boats, etc. over the misuse of economic terms.

This is what one reader wrote when I mentioned "economic efficiency."


Good on ya. Haines rocked! Hmmm, that economic efficiency argument is a simple but deceptive one. In essence, a limited supply or bundle of goods faces a demand for a product mix, demand by CUSTOMERS! Product A is highest use, greatest returns, probably an advanced product form. Product B lesser, until down the line may come Product G - ground up fricking fish flesh destined for grocery bags of meal eating carnivorous farmed fish instead of humanity - i.e. bottom trawled, squashed fish no good for anything but.
So, when I presented the reality of Economic Efficiency, that the consumer rules - not fishermen or processors, (and then only if this bundle goes to the highest use function), to the Council about a year ago, they immediately ceased talking about it thereafter. Point is, they did not want any truth to get in the way of allocating all they could to shore side plants and captive trawler fleets.

Not sure how the East Coast and others will see or use the term. It is a mess. The Council, AP and SSC testimonies were wormy with "productive efficiency" discussions, not EE ones.

And we are a sorely under capitalized industry! Not over-capitalized. We need newer tech boats, higher tech food- grade, white-capped workers, and plants you could eat off the floor in, etc. Not this old worn out mirror of an industry that Alaska thinks is food processing, as the only ones we look better than were the disease causing plants of the S.E. USA where you might as well breed flies and sell the healthy maggots.

Fishermen should want to own it from boat to tablecloth, nothing less - and take every penny along every step of the way, and make damned sure no multinational corporations (even if they form their own vertical integrated one) cheat the USA, tax evade, or otherwise act with malice, aforethought, and greed. Good lord, we are civilized enough to start acting it.

Spouting - in whale country...

Good evening!
Stay warm."

Even the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative, in it's Report to Congress, says that unregulated commercial activity affects the ocean systems such that the end result is detrimental to the maximum usefulness of the marine resources. We see such unregulated activity all the time in Alaska, whether the media tells it like it is or not, or politicians admit it or not.

The story that jumps to mind is back when Kodiak had a healthy king crab resource and the National Marine Fisheries Service said that mature male king crab don't do the breeding. Hence these individuals were targeted by the commercial fleet. A renown local diver went into the NMFS offices in Kodiak and reported that they were dead wrong since he continued to see just the opposite. The Feds escorted him from the building and the rest is history. Not a king crab survived the botched fisheries management.

The Japanese already knew this, and I'm not convinced that NMFS didn't either. But those big red king crab males sure sold like hotcakes. Did Wakefield pressure NMFS, like he did the Alaska King Crab Quality and Marketing Control Board to hire his ad agency? We probably will never know. The point is that Federal pig-headedness shorted Alaska many decades of lost economic benefit from a wonderful fishery. And this is just one example. I'd probably blow a fuse if I got into describing all the blunders and pure greed that just I know of.

I'm going to have to leave the reconciliation of these economic terms, and the way they are used by fisheries managers, to the reader. I'll just say that anyone serious about preserving the oceans bounty for future generations, and the livelihoods of many thousands of independent fishermen, should put in a little time. It's obvious from statements like the following that there is a "fog of war" aspect to all this: "Commercial fishing has a value far beyond its dollars," said Karen Amspacher of Harkers Island. "I challenge this committee to find a way to convert the value of commercial fishing into terms economic development councils can understand."

The article that quote came from dealt with working waterfronts being in peril. The point here is that when economic principles are not understood, or are misused, the result is not a pretty picture. So if anybody cares what happens with small Alaskan fishing communities, they ought to check how economic principles are used in the fish councils there. The next chance is at the NPFMC meeting in Portland, OR this month. It will be at the Benson Hotel in downtown Portland Feb 5 - 13. If you miss it look on YouTube for video clips of choice Council maschinations. Cell phone photographers wanted.

Take a look at these quotes from Time Magazine, for discussion purposes. No homework required, yet: "Why pay a professional when an amateur would do it for dramatically less money? In fields ranging from photography to the sciences, companies are taking jobs once performed by staff and "crowdsourcing" them to the enthusiastic, increasingly adept masses." And: "From YouTube amateurs to bloggers to amateur photographers competing with the paparazzi, "user-generated content" is revolutionizing the media landscape."