Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Chapter or Section
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 1802
Type of Book: Technical
Section or Chapter Title: Protecting Marine Ecosystems in Fishery Regulation
Book Title: Encyclopedia of Energy, Natural Resources and Environmental Economics, Volume 2
Author: Joshua K. Abbott, Daniel S. Holland
Publication Year: 2013
City: London, UK
Publisher: Elsevier
Volume: 2
Pages: 206-214
Keywords: bycatch,fisheries,incentives

This article reviews policies related to protection of marine ecosystems from negative impacts associated with prosecution of fisheries  primarily bycatch and habitat damage. Since acceptable levels of impacts are typically determined by biological and political considerations rather than economic efficiency in practice, we focus on evaluating alternative ecosystem protection approaches from the perspective of their efficacy in meeting these objectives and their ability to do so at minimum cost. We expound an economic view of ecosystem impacts that characterizes their presence as arising from the choices of profit maximizing fishermen under biological, technological and institutional constraints. We therefore argue, theoretically and empirically, that consideration of the incentives embodied in regulatory approaches is critical. From this perspective, we discuss the pros and cons of input vs. output based regulatory approaches and the factors that impact their relative effectiveness. In particular, we discuss incentive-based approaches for managing ecosystem impacts and consider the key role of information and its distribution between regulators and fishermen and the need to exert control over the spatial and temporal nature of effects in selection of the best policy. Finally, we discuss the role of policies outside the reach of traditional fisheries management for curbing ecosystem impacts.

Theme: Sustaining Marine Ecosystem and Human Health
Official Citation:

Abbott, J.K. and Holland, D.S. Protecting Marine Ecosystems in Fishery Regulation. Encyclopedia of Energy, Natural Resources and Environmental Economics 2:206-214. Elsevier, London.