The main goal of this paper is to explain the role of environmental economics on the example of the policy regarding saving the blue-fin tuna.
The paper is focused towards lessening the demand on blue-fin tuna by using sub-par fish species such as yellow-fin tuna as a replacement. The objectives of the research are, first of all, to explain why this policy is needed and, second of all, predict its possible economic consequences for society. Taking into account these objectives, the paper is going to have the following structure: introduction (where definition and explanation of goals of environmental economics will be provided), brief description of environmental policy under consideration, analysis of its possible economic consequences, and conclusions.
To begin with it is worth to say some general words about such item as environmental economics. First of all, here is the definition of this term. The most appropriate one is the following;
"Environmental economics is an area of economics that studies the economic impact of environmental policies. Environment economists perform studies to determine the theoretical or empirical effects of environmental policies on the economy. This field of economics helps users design appropriate environmental policies and analyze the effects and merits of existing or proposed policies" (Investopedia).
Simply speaking, environmental economics is a science and the area of practical knowledge that shows how environmental policies can affect economic well-being of the society. Environmental economics also has some other purposes, which are going to be discussed below.
First subject of focus are environmental policies and their consequences.
These policies have become very popular in the recent years. They are applied in order to improve or at least maintain conditions of natural environment. They are part of so-called environmental risk management.
Environmental risk management cannot be considered as a policy of society to minimize negative impact of the natural environment resulting from its performance. On the other hand, the second task of environmental risk management is to limit negative influence of society on natural environment. In such context, environmental management involves reducing pollution and the consumption of natural resources by the organizations and society, in general.
>The second approach considers the term of environmental management as a policy and practice of predicting and preventing natural disasters and eliminating their negative consequences.
In such context this term is close to the term of natural disaster risk management. Also, in this case, it is worth to mention not only the responsibility of the particular organizations, but also the responsibility of the whole society to natural environment.
Taking into account the climate changes in the recent years, the problem of the impact of natural disasters on society has become really popular. It has grown, first of all, because of the number and severity of such disasters and, second of all, because of human and financial losses caused by them.
Everyone knows that number and severity of such cataclysms have increased dramatically in the past years. There is a range of factors that have caused such growth. Among them we may differentiate the following: more frequent extreme weather events related to global warming and climate changes caused by it; high temps of technological development of civilization and its negative impact on the natural environment; population growth and factors caused by it (for example, urbanization and pressure on natural resources); cyclical features of the development of our planet, which change the natural course of events time from time, etc.
In such hostile circumstances the importance of environmental risk management has increased significantly, because its main functions are to forecast, prevent and provide effective recovery from natural disasters and severe climate changes.
Thus, the definition of the environmental risk management can be stated as the following: the environmental risk management is a standardized system or policy, developed by the society to forecast, prevent and recover from different types of disasters. It includes two main sides - prevention and recovery. Taking into account unpredictable climate changes of recent years it is almost impossible to predict and, as a result, prevent some disasters. That is why the main goal of environmental risk management should me minimizing the possible losses from them and providing effective recovery.
We can also define four main phases of the disaster risk management, which are consecutive. These phases are the following: predicator (prevention); immediate relief period; reconstruction and rehabilitation; recovery.
Thus, environmental policies as a part of environmental risk management are applied to prevent and minimize negative influence of society on natural environment. The reason for it is that this environment is able to pay back via severe climate changes and even natural disasters. Environmental economics studies how these policies affect economic well-being of society and how climate changes are able to affect it too. Additionally, environmental economics studies the best economically-beneficial ways of the usage of natural resources and losses from their misuse.
The main topic of concern in this paper is bluefin tuna. It is important to understand essence and necessity of the policy under consideration. Blue-fin tuna is an ocean-dwelling ray-finned bony fish from the Scombridae family. Their weight may exceed 1.000 pounds. The speed of their movement can be up to 50 miles per hour. There are also a lot of sub-kinds of this fish, but it is the subject of a different paper. Blue-fin tuna meat is considered to be very valuable and expensive. That is why they face the problem of overfishing. A picture of this fish is the following.
Sales of this fish bring significant profits not only for companies but even for the whole countries. A reasonable percentage of the budget of some countries is formed from revenues from sifhinf industries. Tuna occupies not the last place in this particular industry. This opinion can be proved by the following words:
"A bluefin tuna sold for a record £1.09million at a Tokyo auction today, nearly three times the previous high set last year. The fish's tender pink and red meat is prized for sushi and sashimi - and the best slices, known as 'o-toro', can sell for £14 (2,000 yen) per piece at upmarket Japanese sushi bars. Caught off the country's northeastern coast, the 222kg (489lb) tuna was sold at the first auction of the year at Tokyo's sprawling Tsukiji fish market, said market official Ryoji Yagi.That means the price for this year's whopper works out at a stunning £2,230 per pound" (Enock).
Because of economic reasons this fish is the subject to overfishing. Business, seeking for higher profits, simply terminates this kind of fish. Therefore, it is worth say that the continued existence of tuna is endangered. Some experts claim that tuna may repeat the destiny of whales and the American bison that have been hunted almost to the point of extinction. Whales have also been very valuable. As a result, they are now on the verge of total extinction. The same thing has happened with bison. We must say that tuna is among the highest priced fishes in the world. The evidences for it have been already provided. Blue-fin tuna is probably the most valuable item of this kind. Therefore, we may assume that mankind is going to lose very much, when the fish is terminated. People will lose valuable and useful meat. Companies are going to decline their profits, and some countries will lose significant part of their state budget.
Everybody realizes that this is a possible scenario. However, money is a great stimulus and companies' greed has no limits. As a result, population of tuna is decreasing every day. Respectively, something should be done not only by companies and countries, which specialize in fishing, but also by special organizations and society in general. In fact, special international organizations have been already created. They control the process of fishing and also stimulate governments and international organizations to accept and implement appropriate policies to solve the problem. Fishing is limited and even forbidden in some particular areas of the world and specific times of a year. Similar policies are implemented on national and international levels. They pursue the same goal to limit fishing of this particular kind in order to save population from extinction.
However, limitations of fishing are not the only way to solve the problem. We believe that there are also other possible options. Among them the following ones may be pointed out. Governments, companies, international organizations should be stimulated to renovate population of tuna. For example, special financial and other benefits should be proposed for institutions that will grow up some particular number of blue-fin tuna. It should be the initiative not only of local governments, but also of international organizations and the whole society in general. This opinion can be proved by the following words:
"However in the long term, sustainability may depend on the economically viable completion of the full life cycle (i.e. reproduction); improvements in the artificial feed formulation to reduce baitfish consumption and improve the feed conversion ratio (FCR); expanding markets beyond the Japanese market; and reducing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Furthermore, farmers need to follow best procedures to ensure traceability of traded tuna. There is also an urgent need to determine precisely the size and age composition of the fish destined for the farming operation as the current lack of biometric information makes stock assessment, and hence effective management and conservation of the blue-fin tuna resource, difficult" (Ottolenghi).
Fishing must be only legal. Poaching is a great problem that should be eliminated. Legal fishing is much easier to control and apply different policies, while poaching is simply unregulated. One of the best ways to eliminate or, at least, minimize poaching is to introduce really severe punishments for poachers. They should be punished not only with fines, but probably with sentences in prison. Fear is one of the best motives for every person.
It has been already mentioned that tuna is, first of all, useful in nutrition. That is why development and production of the substitute goods may be also a way to save tuna. In such case there will be no stimulus for companies and poachers to catch this fish. In fact, this is a kind of policy that is going to be analyzed further in more details.
Budgets of a lot of countries depend on revenues from fishing industry. They just cannot stop catching this fish, because they require this money to finance medical care, education, etc. They should be equipped with other sources of revenue. Sometimes it may be difficult for them to handle a problem on their own. That is why help of developed countries and international organizations is required. Special financial funds should be created to invest into mechanisms of solving the problem.
Now it is time to consider policy of lessening the demand on blue-fin tuna by using sub-par fish species such as yellow-fin tuna as a replacement. Frankly speaking such policy may definitely solve this problem. However, some practical requirements should be met. Among them the following ones may be pointed out:
- Such policy should be implemented on both national and international levels;
- Such policy should not lead to extinction of the sub-par fishes;
- Such policy should be economically beneficial. It means that benefits from its implementation should be much higher than initial costs;
- Such policy should be broadly accepted by society. It means that society must support the idea, know about it and be aware of possible consequences of its violation.
As we can see, economic element is very important in this context. The policy should be economically beneficial. It is the subject of environmental economics. First of all, all the channels via which this policy may affect economic well-being of society must be defined.
Development and production of sub-par fish also requires some investments. The governments will be forced to look for additional money in order to finance such projects. It may be too difficult task in the conditions of the global financial crisis. The governments of developing countries may have more important issues to finance. Respectively, developed countries and international organizations should help.
Yellow-fin tuna is cheaper than tuna under consideration. As a result, revenues from this business are going to decline. Once again a question about compensation is really topical. Such compensation should be present, at least, in a long-term perspective, since there is no stimulus in the opposite case. Also, the current population of yellow-fin tuna is not enough to replace its "brother". It means that this population should be stimulated, what requires money. Special factory should be built, while the cost of one may reach $100.000. On the other hand, such business project should be paid off in the upcoming 3 years.
It is important not to go far away in the realization of this policy. We mean that yellow-fin tuna also may become the subject of extinction. We will be forced to protect this fish in the future and, as a result, additional financial resources will be required. Generally, existence of one fish should not be a price for existence of another one.
It means that some limits may be stated. International organizations should be a controller of a process. For the purpose of making it possible, appropriate powers must be submitted to these organizations. They should perform under governance of UN and other similar institutions. This step requires transitional period and initial investments, which may be quite high.
Finally, like any policy this one is going to require appropriate mechanism of control and monitoring. Implementation of such mechanism will cost a lot. The question is who is going to pay for it. In fact, it is the main question of this policy. For that purpose, a special fund should be created, which will accumulate investments of developed countries, developing ones, international organizations and private companies.
According to the estimation of experts, effective implementation of policy requires from 5 to 7.5 billions of USD. It is a significant sum in the conditions of the global financial crisis. Nowadays, this policy is financed only by about 25%. The rest 75% should by financed in the following 5 years. It is the last deadline for the implementation of this policy.
To conclude it is worth to say that, simply speaking, environmental economics is a science and the area of practical knowledge that shows how environmental policies can affect economic well-being of the society. The main goals of environmental economics are to calculate and justify influence of specific policies on economic well-being of society and also to explore economic costs of society's influence on natural environment. Necessity of such discipline is determined by the severe climate changes that have happened in the recent years. Such situation endangers the future existence of mankind in general.
Blue-fin tuna is one of the most expensive fishes in the world. Its meat is very valuable and useful. As a result, it is able to bring significant benefits for companies and governments. That is why it is not surprising that this fish has become the subject of overfishing. Respectively, the fish has found itself on the verge of extinction. It means that special policy should be implemented on both national and international levels in order to save the fish.
Among the instruments that may reach this goal the following ones have been pointed out. Governments, companies, international organizations should be stimulated to renovate population of tuna. Fishing must be only legal. Poaching is a great problem that should be eliminated. Legal fishing is much easier to control and apply different policies, while poaching is simply unregulated.
Development and production of the substitute goods may be also a way to save tuna.
Help of developed countries and international organizations is required for developing countries in order to convince them to stop overfishing. Special financial funds should be created to invest into mechanisms of solving the problem.
All these instruments are going to lead to economic consequences. The most severe economic consequences are as follows. Development and production of sub-par fish also requires some investments. The governments will be forced to look for additional money in order to finance such projects. Yellow-fin tuna is cheaper than the blue-fin one. As a result, revenues from this business are going to decline. This policy is going to require appropriate mechanism of control and monitoring. Implementation of such mechanism will bear a lot of costs.