Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 455–475 | Cite as

Spare the Young Fish: Optimal Harvesting Policies for North-East Arctic Cod

  • Florian K. DiekertEmail author
  • Dag Ø. Hjermann
  • Eric Nævdal
  • Nils Christian Stenseth


The North-East Arctic cod (Gadus morhua) fishery, as most other commercial fisheries, is wasting the larger part of its potential. Examining a detailed multi-cohort, multi-gear bioeconomic model, we show that the cause is rather a too small mesh size than excessive effort. Although internationally and nationally managed by quota allocations and regulations, the current exploitation pattern implies that essentially the wrong fish are targeted. Catching older and heavier fish could double the fishery’s Net-Present-Value. This increases harvested biomass while it reduces the number of fish removed from the ocean, highlighting the importance of age- and gear-specific modeling. Moreover, optimal harvesting policies would also lead to a much more robust and abundant cod stock.


Age-structure Bioeconomics Gear selectivity North-East Arctic cod Optimal harvesting policies 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aglen A, Drevetnyak K, Sokolov K (2004) Cod in the Barents Sea (North-East Arctic cod): a review of the biology and the history of fishery and its management. In: Bjordal A, Gjøsæter H, Mehl S (eds) Management strategies for commercial marine species in northern ecosystems. Institute of Marine Research, Bergen, pp 27–39Google Scholar
  2. Allen KR (1953) A method for computing the optimum size-limit for a fishery. Nature 172(4370): 210–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson CNK, Hsieh Ch, Sandin SA, Hewitt R, Hollowed A, Beddington J, May RM, Sugihara G (2008) Why fishing magnifies fluctuations in fish abundance. Nature 452(7189): 835–839CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Armstrong CW (1994) Cooperative solutions in a transboundary fishery: The Russian-Norwegian co-management of the Arcto-Norwegian cod stock. Mar Resour Econ 9: 329–351Google Scholar
  5. Armstrong CW (1999) Sharing a fish resource—bioeconomic analysis of an applied allocation rule. Environ Resour Econ 13(1): 75–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Armstrong CW, Flaaten O (1991) The optimal management of transboundary fish resource—the Arcto-Norwegian cod stock. In: Arnason R, Bjørndal T (eds) Essays on the economics of migratory fish stocks. Studies in contemporary economics. Springer, Berlin, pp 137–152Google Scholar
  7. Arnason R, Sandal LK, Steinshamn SI, Vestergaard N (2004) Optimal feedback controls: comparative evaluation of the cod fisheries in Denmark, Iceland, and Norway. Am J Agric Econ 86(2): 531–542CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Beamish R, McFarlane G, Benson A (2006) Longevity overfishing. Prog Oceanogr 68(2-4): 289–302Google Scholar
  9. Beverton R, Holt SJ (1957) On the dynamics of exploited fish populations fishery investigations series II. Chapman & Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. Brokate M (1985) Pontryagin’s principle for control problems in age-dependent population dynamics. J Math Biol 23(1): 75–101Google Scholar
  11. Clark CW (1990) Mathematical bioeconomics: the optimal management of renewable resources. 2. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Diekert FK, Hjermann DØ, Nævdal E, Stenseth NC (2010) Non-cooperative exploitation of multi-cohort fisheries–The role of gear selectivity in the North-East Arctic cod fishery. Resour Energy Econ 32(1): 78–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Finansdepartement (2008) Behandling av kalkulasjonsrente, risiko, kalkulasjonspriser og skattekostnad i samfunnsøkonomiske analyser. Cited 17 Sept 2008
  14. Fiskeridirektoratet (1998–2002) Lønnsomhetsundersøkelser for helårsdrivende fiskefartøy. Budsjettnemnda for fiskenæringen, Fiskeridirektoratet (Directorate of Fisheries), BergenGoogle Scholar
  15. Fiskeri og Kystdepartmentet (FKD) (2008) North-East Arctic Cod— Cited 25 Apr 2008
  16. Fiskeri og Kystdepartmentet (FKD) (2009) Agreement on Norwegian-Russian fisheries for 2010. Press release, 19.10.2009, No.: 97/2009 Cited 28 Oct 2009
  17. Garrod DJ, Jones BW (1974) Stock and recruitment relationship in the Northeast Arctic cod stock and the implications for management of the stock. ICES J Mar Sci 36(1): 35–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Getz WM, Haight RG (1989) Population harvesting—demographic models of fish, forest, and animal resources, monographs in population biology. Princeton University Press, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  19. Grafton RQ, Kirkley J, Kompas T, Squires D (2006) Economics for fisheries management. Ashgate studies in environmental and natural resource economics. Ashgate, AldershotGoogle Scholar
  20. Grafton RQ, Kompas T, Hilborn RW (2007) Economics of overexploitation revisited. Science 318(5856): 1601CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Guttormsen AG, Kristofersson D, Nævdal E (2008) Optimal management of renewable resources with Darwinian selection induced by harvesting. J Environ Econ Manag 56(2): 167–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Halliday RG, Cooper CG, Fanning P, Hickey WM, Gagnon P (1999) Size selection of Atlantic cod, haddock and pollock (saithe) by otter trawls with square and diamond mesh codends of 130–155 mm mesh size. Fish Res 41(3): 255–271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hannesson R (1978) Trålfiske eller skreifiske?: om optimal beskatning av den norsk-arktiske torsk. Økonomiske skrifter 12, University of Bergen, Department of Economics, BergenGoogle Scholar
  24. Hannesson R (1993) Bioeconomic analysis of Fisheries. Fishing News Books, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  25. Hannesson R (1997) Fishing as a supergame. J Environ Econ Manag 32(3): 309–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hannesson R (2007) Cheating about the cod. Mar Policy 31(6): 698–705CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hannesson R (2007) Geographical distribution of fish catches and temperature variations in the northeast Atlantic since 1945. Mar Policy 31(1): 32–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Helser TE, Thunberg EM, Mayo RK (1996) An age-structured bioeconomic simulation of U.S. silver hake fisheries. N Am J Fish Manag 16(4): 783–794CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hjermann DØ, Stenseth NC, Ottersen G (2004) The population dynamics of Northeast Arctic cod (Gadus morhua) through two decades: an analysis based on survey data. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 61(9): 1747–1755CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hjermann DØ, Bogstad B, Eikeset AM, Ottersen G, Gjøsæter H, Stenseth NC (2007) Food web dynamics affect Northeast Arctic cod recruitment. Proc R Soc B 274(1610): 661–669CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Homans FR, Wilen JE (2005) Markets and rent dissipation in regulated open access fisheries. J Environ Econ Manag 49: 381–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Huse I, Løkkeborg S, Soldal AV (2000) Relative selectivity in trawl, longline and gillnet fisheries for cod and haddock. ICES J Mar Sci 57: 1271–1282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Huson RM, Rivard D, Doubleday WG, McKone WD (1984) Impact of varying mesh size and depth of fishing on the financial performance of an integrated harvesting/processing operation for redfish in the Northwest Atlantic. N Am J Fish Manag 4(1): 32–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. ICES (2006) Report of the Arctic Fisheries Working Group (AFWG). Tech. rep., international council for the exploration of the sea (ICES), CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  35. Jørgensen C, Enberg K, Dunlop ES, Arlinghaus R, Boukal DS, Brander K, Ernande B, Gardmark A, Johnston F, Matsumura S, Pardoe H, Raab K, Silva A, Vainikka A, Dieckmann U, Heino M, Rijnsdorp AD (2007) Managing evolving fish stocks. Science 318(5854): 1247–1248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Katsukawa T (2005) Evaluation of current and alternative fisheries management scenarios based on spawning-per-recruit (SPR), revenue-per-recruit (RPR), and yield-per-recruit (YPR) diagrams. ICES J Mar Sci 62(5): 841–846CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Krysiak FC, Krysiak D (2002) Aggregation of dynamic systems and the existence of a regeneration function. J Environ Econ Manag 44(3): 517–539CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kugarajh K, Sandal L, Berge G (2006) Implementing a stochastic bioeconomic model for the North-East Arctic cod fishery. J Bioecon 8(19): 35–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kvamme C (2005) The Northeast Arctic cod (Gadus morhua L.) stock: Gear selectivity and the effects on yield and stock size of changes in exploitation pattern and level. Ph.D. thesis, Department of Biology, University of BergenGoogle Scholar
  40. Marshall CT, Browman HI (2007) Theme section: disentangling the causes of maturation trends in exploited fish populations. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 335: 249–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Massey DM, Newbold SC, Gentner B (2006) Valuing water quality changes using a bioeconomic model of a coastal recreational fishery. J Environ Econ Manag 52(1): 482–500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Millar RB, Fryer RJ (1999) Estimating the size-selection curves of towed gears, traps, nets and hooks. Rev Fish Biol Fish 9(1): 89–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Murphy LF, Smith SJ (1990) Optimal harvesting of an age-structured population. J Math Biol 29(1): 77–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Myers R, MacKenzie B, Bowen K, Barrowman N (2001) What is the carrying capacity for fish in the ocean? a meta-analysis of population dynamics of North Atlantic cod. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 58(13): 1464–1476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Nævdal E (2003) Solving continuous optimal control problems with a spreadsheet. J Econ Educ 34(2): 99–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Nakken O (1998) Past, present and future exploitation and management of marine resources in the Barents Sea and adjacent areas. Fish Res 37(13): 23–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Norges Råfiskelag (2007) Pressemelding: Minstepriser gjeldende fra 07.05.2007. 17 June 2007
  48. Ottersen G (2008) Pronounced long-term juvenation in the spawning stock of Arcto-Norwegian cod (Gadus morhua) and possible consequences for recruitment. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 65(3): 523–534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Ottersen G, Loeng H (2000) Covariability in early growth and year-class strength of Barents Sea cod, haddock, and herring: the environmental link. ICES J Mar Sci 57(2): 339–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ottersen G, Hjermann DØ, Stenseth NC (2006) Changes in spawning stock structure strengthen the link between climate and recruitment in a heavily fished cod (Gadus morhua) stock. Fish Oceanogr 15(3): 230–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Pintassilgo P, Duarte CC (2002) Optimal management of Northern Atlantic bluefin tuna. Mar Resour Econ 17(1): 47–67Google Scholar
  52. Rosenberg AA, Bolster WJ, Alexander KE, Leavenworth WB, Cooper AB, McKenzie MG (2005) The history of ocean resources: modeling cod biomass using historical records. Front Ecol Environ 3(2): 78–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sandal LK, Steinshamn SI (2002) Optimal age-structured harvest in a dynamic model with heterogenous capital. Working Paper SNF 84/02, Institute for research in economics and business administration (SNF)Google Scholar
  54. Smith MD, Wilen JE (2003) Economic impacts of marine reserves: the importance of spatial behavior. J Environ Econ Manag 46(2): 183–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Smith MD, Zhang J, Coleman FC (2008) Econometric modeling of fisheries with complex life histories: avoiding biological management failures. J Environ Econ Manag 55(3): 265–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Smith VL (1969) On models of commercial fishing. J Political Econ 77(2): 181–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Steinshamn SI (1993) Torsk som nasjonalformue: En disaggregert modell. Working Paper SNF 61/93, Institute for research in economics and business administration (SNF), BergenGoogle Scholar
  58. Steinshamn SI (1994) Bærekraftig utvikling av fiskenæringen: Kystfiske vs. Havfiske etter torsk. Working Paper SNF 85/94, Institute for Research in Economics and Business Administration (SNF), BergenGoogle Scholar
  59. Stenseth NC, Rouyer T (2008) Destabilized fish stocks. Nature 452(7189): 825–826CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Stokke OS, Anderson L, Mirovitskaya N (1999) The Barents Sea fisheries. In: Young OR (ed) The effectiveness of international environmental regimes—causal connections and behavioral mechanisms, MIT Press, Cambridge, pp 91–154Google Scholar
  61. Stollery K (1984) Optimal versus unregulated industry behavior in a Beverton-Holt multicohort fishery model. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 41: 446–450CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sumaila UR (1997) Cooperative and non-cooperative exploitation of the Arcto-Norwegian cod stock in the Barents Sea. Environ Resour Econ 10(2): 147–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Tahvonen O (2008) Harvesting an age structured population as a biomass. Does it work?. Nat Resour Model 21(4): 525–550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Tahvonen O (2009) Economics of harvesting age-structured fish populations. J Environ Econ Manag 58(3): 281–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Turvey R (1964) Optimization and suboptimization in fishery regulation. Am Econ Rev 54(2): 64–76Google Scholar
  66. Tyutyunov Y, Arditi R, Büttiker B, Dombrovsky Y, Staub E (1993) Modelling fluctuations and optimal harvesting in perch populations. Ecol Model 69(1-2): 19–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wilen JE (1985) Bioeconomics of renewable resource use. In: Kneese AV, Sweeny JL (eds) Handbook of natural Resource and energy economics. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 61–124Google Scholar
  68. Wilen JE (2000) Renewable resource economists and policy: what differences have we made?. J Environ Econ Manag 39(3): 306–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Florian K. Diekert
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dag Ø. Hjermann
    • 1
  • Eric Nævdal
    • 2
  • Nils Christian Stenseth
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES)University of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic ResearchOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations