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Quantitative risk measures applied to Alaskan commercial fisheries

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Risk measures can summarize the complex variability inherent in fisheries management into simple metrics. We use quantitative risk measures from investment theory to analyze catch and revenue risks for 90 commercial fisheries in Alaska, USA, nearly a complete census. We estimate the relationship between fishery characteristics and catch risk using nonparametric random forest regression to identify attributes associated with high or low risks. Catch and revenue risks for individual Alaskan fisheries are substantial and are higher than risks for farmed food alternatives. Revenue risks are greater than catch risks for most fisheries, indicating that price variability is an additional source of risk to fishermen. Regression results indicate that higher productivity species tend to be higher risk, and there is an increasing gradient of risk moving north and west across Alaskan waters, with the remote western Bering Sea fisheries tending to have the highest risks. Low risk fisheries generally have large catches and support larger fleets. Finally, fisheries with greater catch history under some form of dedicated access privileges tend to have lower catch risks.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115, USA. 2: School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, P.O. Box 355020, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.

Publication date: March 17, 2012

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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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