Remedies

MANY ATTEMPTS have been made to provide fresh directions for the world’s fisheries and fishery managers.

0 UNCLOS, the United Nations Conference on Law of the Sea, conferred ownership and fishing rights to sovereign states.

0 UNCED, the UN environment conference, agreed that further measures are required.

0 FAO has produced a “Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries” which has received broad approval.

Coastal fishermen in Spain recently produced the excellent Cedeira Charter which has a range of proposals to address current issues in fsheries management and exploitation. These include a halt to the capture of juvenile fish, regulation of the capture of adult fish, and the need to conserve the ecosystem. They demanded an end to over-exploitation, a reduction in fleet capacity, support for selective and environmentally-gentle technologies, and measures to ensure genuine compliance with new regulations.

Only massive and comprehensive efforts on this scale, plus similar measures to reduce pollution and protect the marine environment, will preserve the riches of our oceans for future generations.

David Thomson is a former Assistant Professor of the University of Rhode Island USA. He has spent over 25 years in fishery management work with the United Nations and the international development banks, in Asia, Africa, East Europe, the Americas and the Pacific.

–from Land & Liberty Summer 2001

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Affordable housing

The problem

• One and a half million households cannot afford homes of their own

• Two million homes are in serious disrepair

• Many construction workers are unemployed

• Where work exists, house prices are often out of reach of the workers

• House building encroaches on greenest land

• Yet there is vacant brown land in the middle of our towns.

What a mass of contradictions and absurdities!

Since World War II solutions have been advanced to ‘plan’ our way out of these paradoxes, yet the problem seems as intractable as ever.

Penetrating the paradoxes

The price of a “house” is in two parts: the building - the bricks, timber, glass - and the land on which it stands. They perform (economically) in two different ways.

Building materials follow the law of supply and demand. When demand increases, so does supply.

Land is governed by different economic rules. Where demand is high, the price rises. But there is no way at making more land, nor of moving it from a cheap to a valuable location. Indeed, owners are likely to keep land idle; anticipating even further price rises. Thus the amount of land available where it is most needed will actually be reduced in times of high demand.

So the bottleneck in housing supply isn’t building materials – or people willing to build houses–but land.

Making land available

It is necessary to recognize that the value of land is not created by its owner, but by its location in relation to population, infrastructure, other communities and other nations. The value of different plots of land is determined by who wants it, and how much they want it. In the case of housing land, it is determined by what people can afford to pay in order to live there.

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