Niels Vestergaard appeared on Danish National TV yesterday to discuss the new, alarming report on the Danish fishing industry, you can watch here (in Danish; the first two segments of the news are on the topic):
In case you haven’t been following, there has been some turmoil in the industry and its governance lately. Earlier this month, fisheries were removed from the Dept of Environment and Food and placed under the Foreign Ministry in response to concerns about negotiations that will be needed under Brexit. Apparently there may be some personality politics involved as well, but that’s not my purview.
Now, there’s a new report from the State Auditor’s office reflecting on the outcomes of the fishing quota systems that came into being in 2002. It confirms the worst fears that there is something fishily rotten in the State of Denmark – or at least its administration of the quota distribution.
As with the introduction of many catch-share programs worldwide, there is real potential for industrial concentration through the quotas. This is efficient if it lowers costs and overcapitalization, but comes at a socio-economic cost through increased profits for a few and significant livelihood losses for many others. An important aspect of Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQ’s), or tradable permits of any kind, is that the market be ‘thick enough’ – i.e. have lots of buyers and sellers so that non-competitive behavior cannot take hold. The Danish Parliament, aware of such pitfalls, actively charged the ministry with restricting quota accumulation by these “quota kings.”
The scandal is, they haven’t done so, regardless of whether it was under the Venstre government or the Social Democrats. In fact, there have been nine different ministers with responsibility for the ITQs since 2002. The extent of the concentration, and the way in which it has come about, is now a police matter. Stay tuned for more as this unfolds.
Here is the news summary in Danish: