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The opportunity cost of information: an economic framework for understanding the balance between assessment and control in sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) management

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Fisheries managers must make trade-offs between competing management actions; however, the inherent trade-offs associated with information gathering are seldom explicitly considered. Incorporating economics into management decisions at the outset can aid managers in explicitly considering the trade-off between collecting more information to guide management and taking management actions. We use control of the invasive sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) in the Laurentian Great Lakes to illustrate how budget constraints shape this trade-off. Economic theory is used to frame previous empirical work showing that reducing the allocation of resources to conducting assessment, and thereby freeing resources for treatment, would result in a greater reduction of sea lamprey populations— the overarching management objective. The optimal allocation of resources between assessment and control depends on the total budget, the relative cost of each management activity, the marginal reduction in uncertainty associated with increased assessment, and the marginal effectiveness of increased treatment. Formal incorporation of prior information can change the optimal allocation of resources. The approach presented here is generally applicable to a wide range of fishery management and research questions.

Les gestionnaires des pêches sont appelés à faire des compromis entre des activités concurrentes de gestion; ils ne tiennent cependant que rarement compte de façon explicite des compromis inhérents à la cueillette de renseignements. L’incorporation dès le départ d’une dimension économique dans les décisions de gestion peut aider les gestionnaires à envisager explicitement le compromis entre la cueillette additionnelle de données pour guider la gestion et la mise en opération d’activités de gestion. Le contrôle de la grande lamproie marine (Petromyzon marinus) qui a envahi les Grands Lacs laurentiens nous sert à illustrer comment les contraintes budgétaires modulent ce compromis. La théorie économique permet d’encadrer le travail empirique antérieur afin de démontrer qu’une diminution des ressources allouées aux évaluations, qui aurait ainsi libéré des ressources pour le traitement, aurait mené à une plus grande réduction des populations de grandes lamproies marines — l’objectif prépondérant de la gestion. L’allocation optimale des ressources entre l’évaluation et le contrôle dépend du budget total, du coût relatif de chacune des activités de gestion, de la réduction marginale de l’incertitude reliée à une évaluation additionnelle et de l’efficacité marginale d’un traitement supplémentaire. Une incorporation formelle de renseignements a priori peut modifier l’allocation optimale des ressources. La méthodologie présentée ici peut s’appliquer de manière générale à une gamme étendue de questions de gestion et de recherche relatives à la pêche.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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