Like a cap-and-trade system for fishing, individual fishing quotas (IFQs) are an innovative way that ocean conservationists are fighting overfishing.
Current fishing seasons tend to encourage a zero-sum view of fishing, where fishermen try to catch as much as they can in the shortest time possible. This depletes fish stocks, and threatens biodiversity. In an IFQ system, the government would regulate how much fish—including the nasty bycatch of unwanted animals—that fishermen could haul in. The latest issue of Earth Island Journal explores the strategy, and finds that IFQs give fishermen a stake in the long-term sustainability of fish, because the more fish there are in the sea, the more wealth there is for everyone.