THE NEWSLETTER OF THE FISHERIES CENTRE – UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
V OLUME 11 ISSUE 1 J A N U A R Y/ FE B R U A R Y 2005
Will fisheries never be profitable?
Treadmill effects and capitalization of
profits in Norwegian fisheries
by Gakushi Ishimura
Fisheries management has much improved in Norway
since the 1990s. In 2002, Norwegian fisheries caught 2.6
million metric tonnes of fish. The value of total marine
captures has also increased because the ex-vessel price
has increased for the main species. Annual production per
fisherman, which is an economic performance indicator,
attained 600,000 NOK1 per fisher in 2002, including those
who had fishing as a secondary occupation. The Norwe-
gian fisheries are among a few examples of successful
fisheries in the world.
Although short-run profits from such fisheries
would be expected to increase, the annual average profits
in fishing vessel
In this issue... not indicate a
Purse seiner, the Thore Ingolf, fishing in Hardanger fjord,
steady increase southern Norway. Photo by the Lie brothers, Bergen
Treadmill economics in profits corre-
in Norwegian fisheries sponding to the zero between 1998 and 2002. In contrast, annual average
increase in long-term debt, which reflects new investment in vessels
revenue. For including gear and quotas under the Transferable Quota
Flensing adventures instance, for (Individual Vessel Quota) system, has grown from 6 million
fishing vessels NOK to 12 million NOK within four years, which is more than
Seahorse surprise in over 13 m length, the annual revenue.
Portugal which were The treadmill theory of profit was first introduced in
responsible for agricultural economics as a phenomenon resulting from
Cecil and Kathleen 85% of landing capacity expansion, where farmers continuously attempt to
Morrow Scholarship values of Norwe- improve their incomes by adopting new cost-reducing
gian marine technologies and acquiring more land to achieve a larger
capture fisheries scale of production (Cochrane 1958, Levins and Cochrane
in 2002, annual 1996). The more that adoption of new technology occurs, the
And, as always, lots of average profits more production goes up, and the price goes down because
News and Notes! per vessel of the demand-supply mechanism in the market. Conse-
fluctuated around quently, profits from adaptations that lower production costs
Continued on page 2 - Treadmill
FishBytes – January/February 2005 Page 2
Treadmill - Continued from page 1 quotas (equivalent of land in agricul- framework will be done in 2005.
ture). Consequently, potential in- This research was initiated
are countered by a lower price of the creases in profits are invested without during the author’s stay in Norway,
product, and profits expected by the visible increase in profits, and quota funded by the Research Council of
adoption of new technology do not prices are driven up in the competitive Norway. An extension of this article
materialize (product price treadmill). If market. This treadmill effect has been will shortly be submitted to an aca-
prices stay the same, farmers acquire discussed for a long time. However, demic journal as a short communica-
more land to increase production and an empirical study has never been tion.
seek a larger scale of operation as done due to the confidential nature of
they chase prospective profits. fisheries operating accounts. References
Farmers bid against each other over a My analysis of Norwegian Cochrane, W. W. 1958. Farm Prices:
limited amount of land, which drives fishing accounts suggests that in- Myth and Reality, University of
up land prices and again results in creased profits are being reinvested in Minnesota Press: St. Paul.
potential profits being used for new technologies, which includes Levins, R. A. and Cochrane, W. W.
investment (capacity expansion fishing capacity expansion and 1996. Land Economics, 72(4): 550-
treadmill2). acquiring additional quotas to expand 553.
Whitmarsh (1998) suggested the scale of operation. In other words, Whitmarsh, D. J. 1998. Land Econom-
the existence of a similar treadmill increased resource rent is capitalized ics, 74(3): 422-427.
effect for profits in fisheries under as new vessels and additional quota
quasi-property rights (i.e., IVQ system). rather than materialized profit for Footnotes
Improvement of harvest efficiencies by fisheries. Further detailed analysis of 1. Approx. US$94,100 (March 2005)
adopting cost-reducing technologies Norwegian fishing vessel accounts 2.Whitmarsh (1998) called this the
leads fishermen to acquire more and the development of the theoretical “land market” treadmill.
by Andrea Coombs and Lindsay Wilson
Alexandra Morton (Raincoast Re- Word on the street was that Andrew Science Centre travelled to Telegraph
search Society) witnessed a life and Trites had been looking for marine Cove to flense (i.e., strip skin and
death struggle in early November as a mammal skeletons to suspend in the blubber) the minke — and boy was it
pair of killer whales attacked a minke atrium of the new Aquatic Ecosystems stinky!
whale in Echo Bay in the Broughton Research Laboratory (AERL) building at We were all grateful to the 30+
Archipelago, British Columbia. The UBC. With this in mind, the whale was eagles that had eaten about two-thirds
killer whales drove the lone animal towed to Telegraph Cove and placed of the 25-foot whale over the past
into the shallows where it later on a beach to decompose. couple of months. The team went to
suffocated under its own weight. On February 12, 2005 a team of work dressed in their finest disposable
Unable to get to the minke whale, the volunteers from the UBC Marine clothes (due to the goo-factor) and
killer whales left their prey for the Mammal Research Unit (MMRU) and were armed to the hilt with knives.
bears and eagles to consume. the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Within three hours we had the whale
packaged into manageable
bundles for its trip back to Van-
couver — in an open truck … the
other ferry passengers must have
The bones are now suspended
in seawater for a 6-month
washing cycle to remove the
remaining tissue. In time, the
whale’s skeleton is expected to
hang in AERL with skeletons from
other representative species of
marine mammals from British
Stay tuned for more marine
1. (from left) Andrea Coombs, Lindsay Wilson and Andrew Trites with the whale’s skull; and 2. (from mammal flensing adven-
left) Stephen Raverty, Danielle McLaughlin and Janice Bridgland stripping the whale’s spine.
Page 3 FishBytes – January/February 2005
A conservation challenge in Portugal
by James Hrynyshyn
Europe may be united, but its two coast of Portu-
species of seahorses would rather go gal.
their own separate ways. With one
Project Seahorse Research of the world’s
Associate, Janelle Curtis, recently densest
discovered that it won’t be easy seahorse
coming up with conservation plan for populations and
the two species, each of which thrives easy access to
under opposing conditions. their habitats,
The long-snouted seahorse, the lagoon
also known as Hippocampus makes for an
guttulatus, prefers a dense complex ideal natural laboratory. European conservation strategies may
habitat common in undisturbed After four years of tagging therefore have to take into account the
seagrass beds. The short-snouted seahorses, doing underwater visual habitat needs of both species when
seahorse H. hippocampus, however, surveys and estimating seahorse setting up marine protected areas and
prefers relatively sparse habitats, such numbers for her PhD research, Curtis managing the non-selective, bottom-
as those created by fishers dragging realized that local seine fishing wasn’t dragged fishing gears like seines and
seine nets. making life difficult for all her research trawls.
“It’s not a surprise that each subjects. When seining was experi- Curtis recently received a PhD
species would have its own needs,” mentally stopped in some areas, H. from Montreal’s McGill University for
says Curtis. “But I wasn’t expecting guttulatus numbers rose along with the her seahorse research. The journal
such a big difference between the quality of the vegetative cover. By Marine Ecology Progress Series is
two.” contrast, however, H. hippocampus expected to publish a paper by Curtis
H. guttulatus and H. hippocam- seemed to do better in areas fished and her supervisor, Project Seahorse
pus are comparable in size, with each with seines, which simplified the Director Amanda Vincent, on the
reaching a maximum length of 16-18 habitat. distribution and abundance of the two
centimetres, and both are found in “There could be a happy me- seahorse species later this year.
coastal European waters and through- dium, one where both species do
out the Mediterranean. Curtis carried relatively well. But my data suggest that James Hrynyshyn is the outgoing
out her research in the Ria Formosa what works best for one species may communications coordinator
lagoon, a national park on the south not work as well for the other,” she says. for Project Seahorse.
Cecil and Kathleen Morrow Scholarship winner 2005
Congratulations to Fisheries Centre PhD student Brajgeet Bhathal, who has just completed her MSc (Historical reconstruction of Indian
marine fisheries catches, 1950-2000, as basis for testing the ‘Marine Trophic Index’ , defended Dec.13, 2004) and who has been
awarded this year’s Cecil and Kathleen Morrow Scholarship, a generous endowment by Cecil B. Morrow, awarded annually to a
Fisheries Centre student with the best academic travel proposal for research work to use methods developed at the Fisheries Centre.
Fisheries management in India has been relatively poor in many places. Bhathal (2004) has recently shown, via recon-
struction of catch data (1950 to 2000) and use of ecosystem indicators i.e., Marine Trophic Index and FiB index (Pauly et al.
1998; Pauly and Watson 2004), that the marine fisheries in India appear to be unsustainable at the ecosystem level.
However, to further support this and better understand the fishing impacts, there is need for further research. Thus,
Brajgeet will continue her research on Indian fisheries, with emphasis on effort and cost data, and build ecosystem
models to explore different policy options for fishery management in India. In order to compile huge datasets for 13 study
areas (i.e., 9 maritime states and 4 union territories of India), a field trip will be made in this fall. The Cecil and Kathleen
Morrow Scholarship will help to meet Brajgeet’s travelling expenses.
Bhathal, B. 2004. Historical reconstruction of Indian marine fisheries catches, 1950-2000, as basis for testing the ‘Marine Trophic Index’. MSc.
Thesis, Faculty of Graduate Studies. Vancouver, the University of British Columbia: 141 pp.
Pauly, D., Christensen, V., Dalsgaard, J., Froese, R. and Torres, J. F. 1998. Fishing down marine food webs. Science 279: 800-863.
Pauly, D. and Watson, R. in press. Background and interpretation of the ‘Marine Trophic Index’ as a measure of biodiversity. Philosophical
Transactions of The Royal Society: Biological Sciences.
FishBytes – January/February 2005 Page 4
News and Notes
Congratulations ... Pi Jen Liu arrived at the Fisheries Centre in Novem-
ber 2004. He is undertaking a PhD in the Department of
Some lucky people have job offers before they graduate Life Sciences of National Chung Hsieng University, Taiwan
and some get them afterwards - but how many people get ROC (www.nchu.edu.tw). He will stay in Vancouver for one
a job on the very day they hand in their thesis to the library? year and is studying the coral reef ecosystems of Taiwan.
After successfully defending her Masters thesis, “Haunted One part of his thesis will use Ecopath with Ecosim models
Waters: A quantitative estimate of ghost fishing of crabs to explore different policy scenarios in coral reef fisheries.
and lobsters by traps”, exactly that happened to Fisheries Suzanne Mondoux has joined the Sea Around Us
Centre graduate Amy Poon when she was offered a job project as a research assistant to Daniel Pauly. Suzanne is
with the Vancouver Aquarium’s youth initiative project. The French-Canadian and has worked and travelled in different
aquarium (www.vanaqua.org/home/) is launching a parts of Canada, Europe and Africa, doing many kinds of
website to bring information about their research and things within the natural resources sector.
conservation programs to youth (ages 14-21) and to engage Georg Skaret is from Norway, where he is doing his
their interest in conservation and stewardship. Amy will be PhD on behaviour of Norwegian herring during spawning.
writing for the website, in conjunction with a youth educator More particularly the work focuses on how dynamics in
and a website designer. schooling influence abundance estimates from acoustic
surveys. The work will also include an individual based
...Welcome ... schooling model to investigate schooling patterns emerg-
ing with varying number of individuals and different
Geoff Gilliard is the new communications co- spawning motivation. He is working with Tony Pitcher’s
ordinator for Project Seahorse. Geoff has a degree in group, and will stay at the Fisheries Centre until the end of
Communications from Simon Fraser University, B.C., and July, 2005.
has worked as a freelance communications consultant for
the past five years, specializing in issues related to sustain- ... and Farewell
able development. One of the many aspects that he enjoys James Hrynyshyn is trading his duties as communications
in his new capacity is cycling to work along Marine Drive. coordinator with Project Seahorse for those of master
He is married with two young daughters and enjoys renovator of his wife’s family’s century-old family home in
drumming, camping and playing ice hockey. Saluda, North Carolina. His degrees in journalism and
Jens Kjærsgaard is a visiting scholar from the Food marine biology are unlikely to provide much in the way of
and Resource Economic Institute (at KVL) in Copenhagen. the necessary skills, however, and his next assignment is
His PhD research is on fisheries economics and his project expected to take considerably more than the two years he
aims to elicit optimal management policies of fisheries spent at the Fisheries Centre. He encourages everyone to
resources, when several conflicting objectives are taken keep him in the seahorse/marine mammal/fisheries loop,
into consideration simultaneously. The objectives may be through his email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Hrynyshyn said
economic, environmental or political. The topic is ap- he is finding it hard to let go. “Believe me, if I could open a
proached by operational research and the economic Fisheries Centre satellite office in North Carolina, I would,”
objective will serve as a point of reference. Jens is here he said, shortly before leaving Vancouver “but my new
until May, 2005. home will be 379.7 km from the ocean.”
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