Fisheries management and operations research
Fisheries are subject to a deep-rooted problem of economic inefficiency, often referred to as the fisheries problem. The fisheries problem derives fundamentally from inappropriate social institutions controlling the fishing activity, the foremost of which is the common property arrangement. Fisheries management consists of replacing these institutions with more appropriate ones. Which institutions are most appropriate depends on the social objectives of the fisheries. There are strong economic arguments for the view that there should be only a single objective, namely to maximize the present value of the flow of benefits from the fisheries. In reality, different interest groups often push for several, often conflicting, objectives. In that case a multi-objective programming approach may be appropriate. A set of institutions to manage fisheries is referred to as the fisheries management regime. The fisheries management regime consists of a (i) fisheries management system, (ii) fisheries enforcement system and (iii) fisheries judicial system. Each one of these has to be appropriately designed and implemented. The efficacy of the overall fisheries management regime cannot be greater than that of its weakest link. At the same time it is of the greatest importance to keep an eye on the cost of fisheries management. Global evidence suggests that the cost of fisheries management often constitutes a substantial fraction of the value of the harvest. The problem, thus, is to strike the right balance between the efficacy of the fisheries management regime and its cost of design, implementation and operation. The problem of fisheries management is by its nature multidisciplinary. It involves marine ecology and biology, mathematics, economics, game theory, political science and anthropology to name a few. The problem is, moreover, typically quite complex, requiring powerful modelling and calculation techniques. In many respects this is the kind of problem operations research techniques are designed to deal with.
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