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Free Content Combating the Tyranny of Scale for Haliotids: Micro-management for Microstocks

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Global production of Haliotids (abalone) declined more than 60% since the 1960s and continues to decline, indicating a failure to manage these resources sustainably. This paper discusses facets of abalone biology which make sustainable management problematic. Abalone resources are comprised of many small (100s–1000s m) self-recruiting microstocks with highly variable sizes-at-maturity. This causes a mismatch between the scale of management and the scale of component units of stock. This "tyranny of scale" leaves component microstocks vulnerable to the "tragedy of the commons" and resources vulnerable to serial depletion despite apparently rigorous regional scale management. I postulate that beyond abalone, and across a range of spatial scales, unrecognized spatial complexity compromises monitoring, assessment, and management in many fisheries. I suggest that a major challenge for abalone fisheries and the field of fisheries more generally, is to adapt the scale of fisheries monitoring, assessment, and management to the actual scale of component units of stocks, and to mobilize the resources required to adequately address the global needs of a myriad of microstocks. An increased use of territorially based fishing rights and a new class of fisheries practitioners are proposed as part of the answer to this challenge.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2005

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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