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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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Green for Profit

January 29, 2011 - 1:18 PM | by: Amy Kellogg

Fox News sat down with the President of the Environmental Defense Fund, Fred Krupp,  on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.  You think Davos, you think green, as in money.  But another green agenda is alive and well at this summit of the rich and powerful,  despite the global economic downturn.  But money and environment are increasingly closely intertwined.

Krupps says about the atmosphere of this year’s Davos meeting,  “What I am hearing is that there is a commitment to advance the all-important and necessary job of creating jobs, while doing it in a way that protects the environment.”

And like everything at Davos, protecting the environment becomes competitive sport.  According to Krupp.

“The race to be the countries supplying green energies to the world is on.  Last year it was clear that China is at the front of the race.”

China is the leading manufacturer of solar panels.  Fifty percent of the world’s wind turbines are produced by China.

“There’s a tension created by the race,” said Krupp.  “Everyone wants to win it.  The U.S. doesn’t want to import gasoline, but they don’t want to import solar panels either.”

As world economies struggle to find ways to slash budgets and reduce deficits, was to implement environment-friendly policies has to get creative, and cost efficient.

Employing market mechanisms to save the oceans is one example.  According to Krupp,  70% of the world’s fisheries are crashed or unsustainable.  Many have just 1% of the fish that used to inhabit them.  Krupp talks about the tragedy of the “commons”, the things, like oceans, we don’t own, but we all share.

Krupp has been getting the movers and the shakers at Davos excited about a concept that has taken off in the past few years, and is already starting to show impressive results.

It’s the system of catch shares.  The answer to the over-fishing of waters around the world, according to Krupp, is to give fishermen shares of the areas they fish, investing them in the future, instead of motivating them to over-fish the moment, enticing them to observe certain rules, and thereby helping the fish to repopulate.  If fishermen own a stake in their patch of water, they will fish more responsibly and efficiently.

Krupp says, “I am here to talk about giving fishermen a stake in their resources and at the same time helping them rebuild their resource.”

Governments, when it comes to fishing, are therefore moving from a command and control system to letting the private sector get involved.  It’s not a costly transition.  And effective, according to Krupp.  He says the Gulf of Mexico implemented this system four years ago.  As a result, its fishing take is already up 60%.  He claims it will increase eightfold in the next decade.

Krupp says, “there is a resilience in oceans when the government puts the right rules in place.”

The concept has been big in Namibia for some time.  A few years ago, practically no U.S. fisheries were managed this way.  Now, it’s quite common in America.  Former President George W. Bush embraced the concept heartily.  It survived the change of administration.  Krupp calls it a good idea that is above partisan politics.

It’s cost efficient because the government does not have to worry about subsidizing fishermen working in depleted fisheries.  And, greater take, from the rebounding supply, means higher tax revenues.

Krupp has been trying to get the word out in Davos, where countries from Zimbabwe to Japan are represented at the highest levels.

He said the idea got a lot of traction at the World Economic Forum.

“A lot of people who care about oceans and about poor people around the world losing their source of protein.”

Several billion people around the world depend on the sea for their protein.

“With a concerted effort, within a few years, we could see a turnaround in global fisheries.”

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