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... as Forage in the Ecosystem: The Demand for Ecosystem Valuation Public Deposited

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  • Birds, mammals, and fish eat Atlantic Herring. For the first time, fisheries managers in New England are explicitly considering these, and other, predators when setting harvest control rules for the Atlantic Herring fishery. Based on single-species biological reference points, the herring stock is currently well above MSY levels. However, management of this small, oily fish has been quite contentious; many diverse stakeholder groups have recently pushed for increased regulations and lower quotas in the herring fishery. As part of the process, stakeholders identified a diverse suite of metrics needed to assess the performance of a candidate harvest control rule. These metrics included body weight of bluefin tuna, productivity of common terns, biomass of spiny dogfish, and stability of revenues in the herring fishery. A simulation model was then constructed to examine the long-run effects of different harvest control rules on herring stocks, three predators, and the herring fishery. Making sense of the deluge of performance metrics is difficult. Informing this debate is the dream for an applied economist. Bioeconomic theory of predator-prey systems provides a useful framework for thinking about the value of “herring as forage in the ecosystem.” Ecosystem Services Valuation can operationalize this framework. ESV can also simplify the decision-making process by converting diverse model outputs to a standardized unit of measure. Yet minimal, if any, ESV methods were used to inform fisheries managers. We discuss areas where ESV could have been included more prominently and the barriers to truly realizing that dream.
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  • Seattle, Washington, USA
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