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Does size matter? A bioeconomic perspective on optimal harvesting when price is size-dependent

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Body size is a key parameter influencing demographic characteristics of fish populations as well as market value of landed catch. Yet in bioeconomic modelling, body size is often an overlooked biological and economic parameter. Here we evaluate how size-dependent pricing influences optimal harvest strategies in a model parameterized for two pelagic fisheries, those targeting Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) and Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus), in Norway. In our model, positively size-dependent pricing clearly shifts optimal harvest strategies towards lower harvest rates and higher mean body size of caught fish. The results are relatively insensitive to biological (e.g., natural mortality) and economic details of the model (e.g., discount rate or demand function). These findings show that size-dependent pricing influences optimal harvest strategies aiming at maximum economic yield and, hence, requires more attention in resource economics and in fisheries management.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Bergen, Department of Biology, P.O. Box 7803, N-5020 Bergen, Norway. 2: Samfunns- og næringslivsforskning AS (SNF; Norwegian School of Economics), Breiviksveien 40, N-5045 Bergen, Norway.

Publication date: October 1, 2011

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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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