18. Bycatch Penalties

To reduce the amount of collateral environmental damage during harvesting activities, fines should be imposed for each biological organism that is unintentionally killed, harmed, captured, or otherwise negatively affected during the process of normal fishing or environmental harvesting activities. The amount of such fines may vary with each species to reflect each species’ environmental value to its ecosystem, its rarity or legally protected status, or its risk of extinction.

For example, a dolphin becoming entangled and injured within a tuna fishing net would result in a $50 fine. If the dolphin were to die because of the entanglement, the fine could be $100. Another example is shrimp harvesting which results in large amounts of collateral damage occurring to the biology of seafloors. In case like this where it would be prohibitively time consuming and expensive to count all the species affected, other methods can be used, such as imposing a penalty based on the percentage of bycatch to total catch. The higher the percentage of bycatch, the higher the penalty.

Such a policy would encourage the development and adoption of technologies that increase the accuracy of targeted harvesting methods while minimizing damage to fisheries and other parts of the ecosystem.

If the penalties were set to correct levels, the free markets would function to adequately enforce such regulations. For example, one possible easy solution would be to require the video recording of every catch as it is hauled onto the boats. Such videos would be reviewed either in real time or later by inspectors and fines would then be determined. The penalties associated with violations for failure to adequately record the catches, either due to forgetting to turn the equipment on, equipment malfunction or whatever other reason, should result in penalties sufficiently higher to make the fishermen wish they had not forgotten to turn on their equipment, had installed fail-safe technologies that would have warned them about malfunctioning equipment, or taken whatever other measures would have been necessary to avoid the penalties.


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