In 1998, the Year of the Sea, the Department of Fisheries released its environmental statement. The statement included the following:
"The Department of Fisheries aims to harness the resources of the sea in a profitable way based on the best available scientific arguments. This will safeguard biodiversity and ensure that the ocean ecology is not threatened."People have realized that ocean resources are limited and, as such, human exploitation of and access to the ocean cannot go unchecked.
So as to ensure the protection of the fish stocks, in 1984 the quota system was introduced and in 1991 all fishing fleets were set a quota (of which each ship was given an annual share).
There has been some discussion about this quota right, which one may sell, lease out or use oneself like any other possession: therein lies the problem. Debate has arisen about the effect of this management system on fishing practice as the measure may not be what it appears; not least because, recently, many have made enormous profits by selling fishing quotas which were allocated to them without a fee.
Those who oppose the quota system criticize ichthyologists for not acknowledging the effect that the quota system has on the environment. They argue that it is necessary to fish a great deal in order to create better conditions for the growth of the fish stock, i.e. by ensuring sufficient food for the fish. Otherwise the fish stocks will starve. One ought not to build a larger fish stock than the sea can support – this applies, for example, to the cod fish. Others believe that there is nothing to suggest that there is a food shortage in the ocean and that, in any case, the cod is very hardy and can go for a long time without much food. It makes economic sense to allow the cod to grow in the ocean: it is a long living fish and great profits can be made if it is given a chance to grow larger. There are many who are unhappy about the exclusions which have come with the quota system. The quotas are bought and sold, and it is not possible for any person to run a fishing vessel. To many, it seems that there are just a few people who are getting the most out of the common resources of the nation. Others say that such talk reveals their jealousy.
However, most are in agreement that it is necessary to promote a more democratic debate than has been carried on to date. Otherwise, fish institutes will become ivory towers, sensitive to criticism.