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August 1999 No. 13
The European Association of Fisheries Economists

 

XIth Annual Conference of EAFE, Dublin, 6-10 April 1999

The Annual Conference and General Meeting of EAFE took place in Dublin this year, and was hosted by Ireland's Marine Institute in the august and historic surroundings of Dublin Castle. The remarks of one member of the Bureau, "not many battlements, or dungeons", on first seeing the place were reasonable enough., because the castle has undergone quite massive remodelling, mainly in the eighteenth century, when it was turned into a series of graceful Georgian administrative blocks of buildings including the magnificent State Apartments for the then government. Much later refurbishment, carried out for Ireland's entry into the European Community, created the magnificent conference centre at the north-west corner of the castle in which the Conference took place.

The Conference was opened by Ireland's Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources, Dr. Michael Woods, T. D., whose welcoming speech, is given in full in this Bulletin, together with the reply of the President of EAFE, Dr. Pavel Salz.

The Minister also hosted a reception for the Conference on Wednesday evening in the superb State Apartments of the Castle, at which the Marine Institute was represented by its Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Peter Heffernan, Board Member Michael Manahan, representing the Institute Chairman, Dr. J. P. Crowley who sent a greeting, David Griffith, Director of Research at the Institute's Fisheries Research Centre, and John Browne, head of the fish stock assessment division. Also present was keynote speaker Professor Lee G. Anderson. An evening of drinks and networking was enjoyed by all.
Regrettably, keynote speaker, Professor Ragnar Arnason, was unable to be at the reception due to a death in the family. We greatly appreciate the short visit he did take the trouble to make to give his keynote address, and sincerely sympathise with him and Mrs. Arnason in their family loss.

On Thursday evening, some delegates availed of the opportunity to sample Dublin's theatre scene, and on Friday afternoon there was an excursion to the scenic areas of the Wicklow Mountains. This was followed by the conference dinner in the evening, where, in the Killiney Court Hotel, with its beautiful view over the sea, the guests were entertained to dinner and folk-dancing, - and, of course, "a few jars". We were joined by John Farnell, Director at DG XIV, Mrs Farnell, and Dominique Levieil, in preparation for "European Day" on Saturday.

While it may be dangerous to single out participants for mention, it may also be reasonable to do so to some extent to show how they lent diversity to the company present. It is salutary that the majority of fisheries economics research workers should meet some of the people whose industry and livelihood are permanently subject to the effects of fisheries economics. On this score it was good to have Frank Doyle, General Secretary of the Irish Fishermen's Association attending and presenting a paper. Fishing boat owner/skipper, Lorcan O Cinneide, from Dingle, Co. Kerry, also attended.

Your Editor and Conference Secretary Paul Hillis felt extremely satisfied with the outcome, and ended up being plied with compliments from every direction. He must, however acknowledge the enthusiasm with which the Marine Institute threw itself behind the job of organisation once the invitation to come to Dublin had been issued and accepted. Thanks are due to the Minister for the importance which he accorded to the event, and to Chief Executive Peter Heffernan for facilitating it so effectively, but above all to the hard-working team of John Joyce, Gillian Markey and Helen Boles, whose work put into preparation, organisation, and servicing the participants at the conference reception was enormous and very efficiently carried out. They were ably helped and supported during busy periods by Anne McDaid and Jim Carroll. A very big 'thank you' to all these and to the courteous and efficient Castle staff is in order and is hereby offered.

Conference papers

Ragnar Arnason's keynote address dealt with the costs of fisheries management, - which he found over different countries to lie in the range of 3% and 30% of the value of the landed catch, - and the effectiveness of different types of management structure. He argued that analysis of the performance of fisheries without including the costs of management gave an incomplete and distorted picture. He concluded by considering the suitability in terms of mutual motivation of four scenarios regarding provision of and payment for management services, - (1) Traditional, government provides and pays, (2) Cost recovery, government provides, industry pays, (3) Contracting out, private sector provides, government pays, and (4) Self-management, fishing industry provides and pays. He saw least problems with the fourth option overall, though he did not discuss in depth the issue that fishing fleets may consist of diverse factions which may not trust each other enough for effective management of their shared fishery. It was generally an interesting paper, though not necessarily one with which all existing fisheries managers might be particularly comfortable.

Lee G. Anderson's keynote address analysed the report of the National Academy of Sciences to the U.S. Congress on Individual Fishing Quotas, which he stated to be essentially similar to Individual Transferable Quotas. The main concern of Congress was to avail of the generally good features of IFQ's (optimising harvesting rates) without their disadvantages, (unearned [windfall] gains and equity related distribution problems). With this in mind, the three main issues addressed were initial allocation, transferability, and accumulation limits. In a review most interesting to Europeans due to its novel perspective on a number of issues, Lee commended the work generally, whilst noting that many of the recommendations that were made embodied principles which he felt should be applied to most or all types of fishery management regulation, such as the recovery of regulation costs and rent generated by the fishery. This last provision will strike many European workers as having a potentially major problem of political unpopularity.

European Day was opened by John Farnell, Director, DG XIV, European Commission, whose speech outlined Commission thinking on subsidies to fishing in a (developed) world where overfishing is a major problem and one where subsidising of fishing exacerbates it. He recognised the reasons for subsidies, outlined the changes which were turning mainstream fisheries management thinking against them and pressures in favour of retaining them, and predicted future trends accordingly. He drew attention to an important role for economists in analysing the extent of the subsidy element in the various government measures proposed. Dominique Levieil also gave his by now familiar outline of opportunities and procedures for EU support for research planned for the coming year.

The thirty-three papers submitted to the Conference included fifteen on management, eleven on markets, five on socio-economics, and one each on the environment and aquaculture. The management papers covered wide-ranging aspects including an important Dutch paper on the modelling of fleet economic performance, and Dutch and French studies of the effectiveness of management measures which have now been in place for long enough to assess their effects on the fisheries. Other topics covered included highgrading (from Ireland), discarding (France) bycatch (UK), sustainability (Germany), optimal state (Spain), uncertainty (Norway), property rights (Norway), and depleted fishery restoration (Ireland).

Papers in the markets section included an important Norwegian paper on European whitefish price parity, British, French and joint British-French papers on market delineation and two (Danish and British) on modelling of demand. There were also papers analysing fish as components of the food industry (UK), on efficiency (UK), markets with development- (UK) or supply- (Portugal) related problems, and environmentally friendly marketing (UK).

The socio-economics area contained two French papers, on diversification from commercial fishing to a partly recreation-orientated mixture of activities, and on seasonal interaction between two very different local inshore fisheries. It also included two Irish papers, a criticism of the socio-economic effects of over-dependence on economic efficiency as a policy goal and a case study of a remote fishing community, and a British contribution analysing economic multipliers.

In a German paper on the environmental economics of the Baltic Sea and its fisheries, Ralf Döring called for either a conference, or a dedicated session at the IIFET 2000 Conference at Corvallis, Oregon, USA in 2000, to consider the economic, ecological biological and social problems of the Baltic in a holistic way. The only paper on aquaculture was also the only non-keynote presentation from outside Europe and was a survey of small-scale carp culture in southern India, presented by Ram Jayaraman.

And the newspapers said.....

The conference received coverage in the national daily, The Irish Times, which focussed on John Farnell's speech, noting particularly his predictions of reduced assistance to the industry in the future, based on a number of factors, including the perceived connection between overcapacity and overfishing. The paper noted that this showed some contrast in tone with the recent report of the Irish Sea Fisheries Board (BIM) seeking to increase structural funding for the marine sector. The article also briefly reported Lee Anderson and Frank Doyle.

The fishing industry monthly, The Irish Skipper, was more forthright. "EU want fish, not fishermen" stated its front-page headline, over an article that spelled out the logical and anticipated impact of the EU's quest for cheap food on the position of EU fishers. It concluded with the verdict that the clause that said that workers in the fishing industry should receive a proper living was not the driving force of the policy. It also, on page 2, included a review of the conference, mentioning the ground it covered, and countries represented, and gave a brief resume of the Minister's address and papers presented by Irish workers including Paul Hillis, David Meredith and Frank Doyle.

Opening Speech by the Minister, Dr Michael Woods, T. D., with the reply by the President of EAFE, Dr. Pavel Salz.

It is a pleasure to welcome you all to Ireland. I am delighted to see so many distinguished fisheries economic experts here in Dublin Castle. I congratulate the European Association of Fisheries Economists on its work over the last decade. You make a valuable contribution to the international understanding of the problems and challenges facing the fishing sector.

I would like to thank the Marine Institute and the EU Commission for organising this conference. I am particularly impressed by the wide-ranging and heavyweight agenda that you will be addressing over the next three days. Each of the themes is critical in its own right but they are also closely interrelated. I welcome and support the growing recognition, here in Ireland and at EU and international level, of the need for an integrated approach to tackling both the economic and scientific challenges inherent in fisheries management.

The management and conservation of our fisheries resources, meeting the needs of supply and demand, market strategies and the socio-economic dividends to be obtained from sustainable fisheries development, cannot individually be treated in isolation. They are all closely interdependent. Strategies for the sustainable management of the fisheries resource, designed to ensure supply, must therefore be matched by efficiency, competitiveness and quality to meet the needs of the demand side.

As Minister responsible for all aspects of the Irish fisheries sector, my policy objective is to support and encourage all components of the sector to develop a 'partnership' approach and to tackle the challenges for the Irish industry in an integrated and co-operative way. I strongly support partnership between the fish catching and processing sector and the scientists as well as fisheries managers and decision makers. When I established, last December, the National Common Fisheries Policy Strategy Review Group, my first priority was to ensure that we brought together all the key players from the catching, aquaculture and processing sectors as well as other key expertise. A strongly integrated approach to exploring and identifying the scope for improvements in the Common Fisheries Policy is essential. Our national negotiating position is best served by a coherent approach to the many issues involved in the evolution of the Common Fisheries Policy, as well as the 2002 Review itself.

The Irish Government is committed to supporting and facilitating the sustainable development of the national fishing industry. The contribution of the sector as a whole, from catching and aquaculture to processors and exporters, is vital for jobs and economic activity in our coastal regions. In line with the Government's policy objectives for the sector, I am giving priority to the necessary conservation and developmental strategies to ensure sustainable fishing, continuity of supply, and the goals of quality, efficiency and competitiveness on the EU and world markets.

In the last year or so, we in Ireland have taken important initiatives designed to address the challenges facing the sector. The Whitefish Fleet Renewal Programme, involving an investment of some £60 million, will deliver long needed modernisation and renewal of the whitefish fleet in line with available fishing opportunities. This will lead to better continuity and quality of supply for the Irish fish processing and export sector, enabling the demand side in turn to maximise price, value added and market opportunities. We have also put in place a new legal framework for the licensing and development of aquaculture to the highest environmental standards. This will ensure that aquaculture as a growing supplier of raw material to the processors can play its full part in delivering jobs and value added for the Irish seafood sector.

The potential for further significant development has been strongly underlined by the Seafood Strategy 2000-2006 of the Irish Sea fisheries Board (BIM) which I launched some weeks ago. This Strategy highlights the undoubted economic opportunities that can be delivered for the sector through cohesive and innovative investments. The industry has given its full backing to this approach and I am working with the Irish industry and BIM to secure the necessary investment support over the medium term.

In that overall policy context, I welcome, and applaud, the emphasis that this conference is giving to an interrelated approach to the scientific economic and socio-economic factors at work in the complex business of fisheries. Such an approach is essential if the Irish and European fisheries sector is to develop in line with emerging global trends and market challenges. Solid research and analysis is vital in its own right, across all elements of the fisheries chain, from resource management and stock assessment to product quality and market analysis. Basic research, and innovative RTD strategies are critical to delivering on the sustainable development objective. The Marine Institute itself has, in its Marine RTD Strategy, charted the way forward. The Strategy directly complements and underpins the Development strategy, for the Seafood Sector drawn up by BIM.

This is a hugely challenging era for fisheries as a whole. We are all keenly aware of the threats to depleted stocks and of the need to ensure a viable future for the resource and for the communities that it supports. I am working to deliver new and innovative strategies for the Irish fishing industry based on sustainability, quality and market opportunity as well as responsiveness to consumer needs. We can only break the mould if scientists, economists, managers and the sector itself work together in a new partnership. I am committed to supporting and working for this partnership approach in the Irish and EU fisheries context. The work of this conference will be a substantive contribution to our national strategic thinking and to the international experience as well. We all share the global challenge of fisheries conservation, management and development. This conference is an excellent opportunity to explore common solutions to that shared challenge. I wish you well.

Dr. Pavel Salz, President of EAFE noted that the Minister's stressing of the importance of sustainable fisheries. He observed that this was a topic that received attention among biologists under the heading 'precautionary approach'. "In order to contribute to this discussion", he continued, "we as economists, should start considering what should be understood under the definition 'economics of sustainability'? What constitutes sustainability in socio-economic terms? How much can fisheries economists learn from environmental economists in this respect?" He also concurred strongly with Dr. Woods' mention of the need for partnership between government and industry. In this partnership, economists could play an important role by supplying the information required as a basis for sound dialogue.

Further conference details will soon be available on this website.

Paul Hillis   
Fisheries Research Centre   

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