Friday, September 3, 2010

The Tragedy of the Commons, Flipped

. Friday, September 3, 2010

Red Lobster is subsidizing international lobster fishing waters:

"Is there Red Lobster without lobster?" is not an existential question for this company. The North American lobster harvest fluctuates every year, but demand continues to grow. So two years ago, Darden began sponsoring an experiment to boost the population. Scientists working with the government of New Brunswick, in Canada, catch pregnant lobsters and care for their offspring until they're mature enough to burrow into the ocean's sandy bottom, then release the tiny animals into the wild. Then Darden waits and hopes -- for six years or more. So far, says Bill Herzig, Darden's senior vice president of supply-chain innovation, "it looks like good science." ...

But today, overfishing has made the seafood side of the business increasingly complicated -- not just for Red Lobster but for all the Darden brands. "It's a supply-and-demand issue," says Ian Olson, the company's director of sustainability, a newly created position. "There are 6 billion people on the planet today, and it'll be 9 billion by 2050. There's no better way to say it: There are only so many fish in the sea." Even before scientists predicted in 2006 that world fish stocks could collapse by 2048, Darden had begun removing endangered wild fish, such as Chilean sea bass and orange roughy, from its menus and using its clout as one of the world's largest buyers to push the industry toward sustainability. To promote fish farming and to set standards to minimize its environmental impact, Darden cofounded the Global Aquaculture Alliance, a nonprofit trade association that partners with governments and NGOs. Once GAA agreed on shrimp aquaculture rules, Darden required its suppliers to adopt them, much as Wal-Mart has successfully pushed its vendors to reduce packaging. "We recognize our responsibility," says Olson. "We want to make sure we preserve the ecosystem, but it's even better if we enhance it."

Somewhere Elinor Ostrom is smiling.


The Tragedy of the Commons, Flipped
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