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Optimal Harvesting of an Age-Structured Schooling Fishery


  • Olli Tahvonen


  • Martin Quaas
  • Jörn 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. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Olli Tahvonen & Martin Quaas & Jörn Schmidt & Rudi Voss, 2013. "Optimal Harvesting of an Age-Structured Schooling Fishery," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 54(1), pages 21-39, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:54:y:2013:i:1:p:21-39
    DOI: 10.1007/s10640-012-9579-x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sherry L. Larkin & Gilbert Sylvia, 1999. "Intrinsic Fish Characteristics and Intraseason Production Efficiency: A Management-Level Bioeconomic Analysis of a Commercial Fishery," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(1), pages 29-43.
    2. Clark, Colin W, 1973. "Profit Maximization and the Extinction of Animal Species," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 950-961, July-Aug..
    3. Rognvaldur Hannesson, 1975. "Fishery Dynamics: A North Atlantic Cod Fishery," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 8(2), pages 151-173, May.
    4. Plourde, C G, 1970. "A Simple Model of Replenishable Natural Resource Exploitation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(3), pages 518-522, June.
    5. Florian Diekert & Dag Hjermann & Eric Nævdal & Nils Stenseth, 2010. "Spare the Young Fish: Optimal Harvesting Policies for North-East Arctic Cod," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 47(4), pages 455-475, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hutniczak, Barbara, 2015. "Modeling heterogeneous fleet in an ecosystem based management context," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 203-214.
    2. repec:kap:enreec:v:67:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10640-015-9988-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Behringer, Stefan & Upmann, Thorsten, 2017. "Harvesting a Remote Renewable Resource," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168250, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Quaas, Martin F. & Requate, Till & Ruckes, Kirsten & Skonhoft, Anders & Vestergaard, Niels & Voss, Rudi, 2013. "Incentives for optimal management of age-structured fish populations," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 113-134.
    5. José-María Da-Rocha & Rosa Mato-Amboage, 2016. "On the Benefits of Including Age-Structure in Harvest Control Rules," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 64(4), pages 619-641, August.

    More about this item


    Age-structured models; Optimal harvesting; Economic-ecological optimization; Fishery management; Multispecies interaction; Q22; Q57; Q28;

    JEL classification:

    • Q22 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Fishery
    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics
    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy


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