“We understand that the fleet needs consolidation and the government doesn’t have money for more subsidies,” said Mike Park, the association’s director, in regard to ITQs, adding that they were very poorly designed when introduced to Scotland in 1998. “But we also have to guard against corporate buyouts.”

Will Europe’s fisheries reform efforts end up being a success story? Only time will tell, and the reforms may well get watered down between now and 2013. But even fisheries management doesn’t come across as exciting, it’s one of the more important environmental stories worldwide.

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James Fahn is the executive director of Internews's Earth Journalism Network and the author of A Land on Fire.