Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 21–39 | Cite as

Optimal Harvesting of an Age-Structured Schooling Fishery

  • Olli TahvonenEmail author
  • Martin Friedrich Quaas
  • Jörn Oliver Schmidt
  • Rudi Voss


Biologists have criticized traditional biomass models in fishery economics for being oversimplified. Biological stock assessment models are more sophisticated with regard to biological content, but rarely account for economic objectives. This study includes a full age-structured population model for studying schooling fisheries and extends the delayed difference approach used in earlier studies. We take the total harvest as the choice variable, resulting in a simple analytical structure. The model produces optimal steady states that may be higher or lower compared to the delayed-difference formulation. The model is applied to the Baltic sprat fishery. Both ecological and harvesting cost data support specifying Baltic sprat as a schooling fishery. Given nonlinear harvesting costs, the optimal solution is a path toward a steady state with smooth annual harvest and population age structure. Sensitivity analysis shows that the optimal solution is highly dependent on the population level of the sprat’s main predator Baltic cod. A linear cost function and an interest rate below 9 % imply pulse fishing instead of smooth continuous harvesting. Given nonlinear harvesting cost, the optimal steady state yield is rather insensitive to changes in the interest rate. However, under a high cod scenario, interest rates of 10 % or higher implies that no optimal steady state exists.


Age-structured models Optimal harvesting Economic-ecological optimization Fishery management Multispecies interaction 

JEL Classification

Q22 Q57 Q28 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olli Tahvonen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Martin Friedrich Quaas
    • 2
  • Jörn Oliver Schmidt
    • 2
  • Rudi Voss
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Forest SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of KielKielGermany

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