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Viewpoint: Induced Innovation in Fisheries and Aquaculture

Frank Asche () and Martin Smith ()

Food Policy, 2018, vol. 76, issue C, 1-7

Abstract: Some classical economists, most notably Malthus, predicted that scarcity would undermine long-term human well-being. John Stuart Mill, in contrast, predicted that the threat of scarcity creates incentives for innovation that help to avoid some of the worst outcomes. Popular claims of marine ecologists often apply the Malthusian narrative to supplies of seafood, yet global supplies have continued to grow. We examine the modern seafood industry and evaluate Mill’s claims about innovation. We argue that the mechanisms that Mill discusses–innovation in response to and in anticipation of scarcity–account for much of what we see. Scarcities induce technological, policy, and market innovations that enable seafood supplies to grow, and these innovations can build on each other. The challenge for policy makers is to avoid knee-jerk responses to Malthusian narratives and craft policy responses that encourage innovation while recognizing physical limits of ocean resources.

Date: 2018
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