The Behavioral Ecology of Fishing Vessels: Achieving Conservation Objectives Through Understanding the Behavior of Fishing Vessels
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Colin Clark made seminal contributions in both resource economics and behavioral ecology. In the former, he showed how to link biological and economic factors in a consistent mathematical framework, virtually creating the field of mathematical bioeconomics single-handedly. In the latter, he was a major contributor of the introduction of state variable methods for modeling the behavior and life history of organisms. In this paper, we apply the methods of behavioral ecology to a problem in fisheries management and show that understanding fisher responses to quota decrements according to fishing area (so that the decrement in the quota of effort from fishing in a particular area is larger than the actual effort used there) may be as or more effective for seabird conservation than closing areas. To begin, we explain state variable methods in behavioral ecology, using insect parasitoids—Colin’s choice of after dinner talk at the meeting in his honor—making connections between behavioral ecology and resource economics. We then turn to the pelagic longline fishery off eastern Australia and show how the same kinds of methods used in behavioral ecology can provide new insights about this fishery. We provide a model of sufficient detail to compare the current management practice (closures), no management, and spatial management with effort decrements that vary over space and show that the latter management strategy is both environmentally and economically more effective than closures or no management.
KeywordsBioeconomics Behavioral ecology State dependence Stochastic dynamic programming Fisheries
This work was partially supported by the Center for Stock Assessment Research, a partnership between the Fisheries Ecology Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries and the University of California Santa Cruz, by a NSF predoctoral fellowship to Juan Lopez Arriaza, by funding through the Commonwealth Environmental Research Facilities (CERF) Marine Biodiversity Hub, and a CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Career Development Fund awarded to Natalie Dowling. Chris Wilcox was the leader of the Off-Reserve Management Program under the CERF Marine Biodiversity Hub and provided much valuable input to the current work, including the provision of the statistically modeled predictions of area-specific seabird encounter rate per shot. For comments on a previous version of the manuscript, we thank two anonymous referees, Larry Karp and Spiro Stefanou.
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