WITH the exception of Norway, Scotland has the longest seashore of any European country. Whereas the Norwegian cliffs fall into deep seas almost instantly, Scotland's are shallow and accessible. The endless indented coastline of the west and also of the Northern Isles creates what is clearly a vast opportunity - no, neither oil nor gas.
We are so familiar with the idea of the Scots countryside being divided into fields owned by different farmers we do not think about it. Yet it is the demarcation of property rights that allows a tiny number of farmers to feed us all.
It used to be that nobody owned anything. There were hunter gatherer bands who picked berries and hunted deer. We still run the seas, including the maritime foreshore, in that very same primitive way.
It is my argument that without ownership being defined, economic activity cannot emerge.
The "Tragedy of the Commons" was precisely an absence of tradable claims. Being owned by "everyone" really means nobody. Scotland's seas are only just becoming allocated and therefore valuable.
These reflections of political economy are based on gastronomy, namely my admiring the juicy mussels that I was recently served in a restaurant. I was curious to trace their story.
The answer is the Isle of Shuna, a lit