Enclosing the sea

Large fishing companies are trying to privatise one of the few remaining wildernesses: the contents of the sea. The UK Association of Fish Producers (UKAFPO) is a secretive organisation with no discernible website. It is likely its ultimate sponsors are large, wealthy companies that already monopolise the majority of the British catch.

UKAFPO is suing the government because it has decided that UKAFPO members should not retain the right to its unused quota for fish and this should be allocated to smaller fishermen. Smaller fishing boats make stronger (and prettier) communities and they often fish more sustainably than larger, industrial fishing boats. UKAFPO’s argument appears to be that they have invested as though they owned the full quota, so they ought to keep it. If that’s the case, it is a very poor argument indeed.

But even more is at stake: why should anyone own the wilderness? The nearest we can get to that these days is to leave the ‘ownership’ in the hands of the state.


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