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Harvesting selectivity and stochastic recruitment in economic models of age-structured fisheries

Olli Tahvonen, Martin Quaas and Rüdiger Voss

Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 2018, vol. 92, issue C, 659-676

Abstract: We develop the age-structured fishery model by including endogenous harvesting selectivity and stochastic recruitment, as a growing body of fishery ecological evidence suggests these factors to be critical for fisheries management. Optimal harvesting selectivity aims to direct fishing towards age classes that are preferable to catch given information on fish growth, natural mortality, and recruitment in addition to implications on harvesting cost. We analytically show that maximum sustainable yield (MSY) leads to potentially serious and previously unrecognized deviation from economic optimality, as it neglects the dependence of harvesting costs on gear selectivity. We further show that the steady-state population level may fall below the MSY population even with zero discounting and stock-dependent harvesting costs. We quantify our results using empirical data for Baltic cod. Applying the age-structured model with endogenous harvesting selectivity, we find large differences between maximum sustainable yield and the economic optimum, although the classic biomass model suggests that these differences should be unimportant. Stochastic recruitment implies a threefold increase in young age classes, but the stochastic solution can be accurately approximated by the certainty equivalence principle.

Keywords: Age-structured models; Optimal harvesting; MSY; Stochastic fishery; Stochastic programming (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q20 Q22 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Journal of Environmental Economics and Management is currently edited by M.A. Cole, A. Lange, D.J. Phaneuf, D. Popp, M.J. Roberts, M.D. Smith, C. Timmins, Q. Weninger and A.J. Yates

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