An emissions trading subsidy for fishing?

The Hive noted on Friday that:

The revised [Emissions Trading Scheme] contains an enormous new subsidy for the fishing industry. This was, surprise, surprise negotiated by NZ First… Fish subsidies are the direct cause of over fishing. We are opposed to any subsidisation of this industry. The original ETS has no subsidy going to the Fishing Industry. Now they get 50% free allocation. This is an outrage. The Greens should be opposing this policy strenuously.

I agree with the Hive that this is not an ideal outcome. I wanted to find out more so checked with Jeanette before I wrote anything about what had changed in negotiations, and she said:

The Greens certainly aren’t keen to subsidise the fishing industry. However, it is the only trade-exposed sector that wasn’t to get any free units. That means, there is a process in the Bill whereby business that mainly competes with overseas firms who pay no carbon price get some of their emissions covered by free units. The idea is that if they don’t, they have a strong motivation to move overseas where there is no carbon charge, with no benefit to the climate but loss of jobs in NZ. The reason the fishing industry didn’t initially get any is that their energy source is diesel which as transport fuel, doesn’t generally qualify for free units because for every other industry it is used within NZ and not in competition with overseas firms. However for the fishing industry it is their main source of energy and they are directly exposed to competition from foreign fishers.

Every other trade-exposed industry is eligible for 90% of their 2005 emissions for free with the phase out starting only in 2019. Fishing will get up to 50%, and only for the first three years. Also, Peters didn’t oppose the 10 or so significant improvements we got to the scheme and he asked for very little – this was the main thing. One can speculate as to why, but it isn’t unreasonable in the context of the ETS as a whole. It is much less than the farming sector is getting, and they will still face the carbon price for half of their emissions so have an incentive to reduce carbon wherever they can.

So, while it sticks in our throats somewhat, it is short term and less than other industries are getting.

As it turns out peak oil could well curtail fishing companies sooner than a carbon charge would anyway.  All in all, while we’re not happy with this, it doesn’t seem worth dying in a ditch over either.

7 Comments Posted

  1. The Bill is likely to go through committee stages in the House today so tune in to hear all the good and bad details about the bill then.

  2. bbk,

    I suspect this is but one example of why the Greens (who decided to support the emissions Trading Scheme “on balance”) took such a careful look at what that “balance” would involve, and why.

    Human decisions based on compromise can be (appear to be?) very STUPID in some ways …

    Hopefully frog et al will also give us some threads/information that involve/demonstrate the “not-so-stupid” aspects of the ETS!

    (ie we’d like to see it in black, the white, and the various shades of grey!)

  3. This is the kind of horse trading that is so abhorant and comes about when principle is cast overboard for short term political gain. The reasoning that was apparently used to justify it frankly stinks. Because other industries haven’t been given concessions which are ‘as bad’ then it’s OK to give this small concession to the fishing industry. Give me a break !

    If the logic is that foreign boats don’t pay a carbon charge and therefore get cheaper fuel, the answer surely is to insist they do through International Treaty Obligations & if they still don’t then to make sure they pay NZ by imposing zones where they pay – to us. If the fish is ours by agreement with other nations (Territorial waters) then we can surely regulate who fishes them and under what tax regime.

    I’m reconsidering where my vote goes come November.

  4. > “As it turns out peak oil could well curtail fishing companies sooner than a carbon charge would anyway.?

    > Why would peak oil do such a thing?

    because fishing boats are going further out and fishing in deeper waters than they did before cheap oil?

    There aren’t as many fish to catch close to the shore as there used to be, because they’ve been depleted by overfishing.

  5. “As it turns out peak oil could well curtail fishing companies sooner than a carbon charge would anyway.”

    Why would peak oil do such a thing? You had fishing long before you had oil powered vessels, what the fishing vessels of old used sails; they used steam. Why do you automatically think that peak oil will cause such chaos? For crying out loud, it will just take us back to the 1930s, and aside from the Great Depression, the 1930s was not that bad.

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