Don’t fishermen use public resources for private gain?

© Copyright David Baird and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons LicenceIt is not a surprise to find a group of local fishermen questioning the merits of leasing public  waters for aquaculture.  Nevertheless, not all aquaculture ventures are created equal.  Some, including the proposed experimental kelp farm proposed for Casco Bay in Maine can have  a beneficial impact on the environment.

Some of the quotes in the article fail the logic test.  In particular, the rational that this lease should be opposed because it is a “sale  of public land for private monetary gain.  This is a dangerous argument for fishermen to make.  Maine Lobstermen benefit from numerous rules and regulations designed to protect Lobster (a public resource) so that a small group of individuals can them for private gain.

This is not really an argument between leaving resources open for public use vs limiting public access for private gains.  It is a conflict between competing  private uses for a public resource.

I do not know enough to take sides in this case, but given support from the conservation law foundation and other details from the article, it appears that the prospective kelp farmers have chosen an appropriate site and are planning to grow a product with commercial value.  A product that will also provide environmental benefit in the form of nutrient removal and habitat creation.

Photo © Copyright David Baird and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence