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To Integrate or Inform: Experience Using Fisheries Ecological - Economic Models in Chesapeake Bay

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  • Ideally, we seek to develop perfectly integrated ecological-economic models, drawing on the best data, modeling and knowledge of each of the disciplines, into one coherent model to inform policy. The realities of achieving such are thwarted by data and model compatibility issues.  For example, ecological data may be available on different spatial and temporal scales than the economic data, forcing one to aggregate data and perhaps lose information.  As an alternative to the full integrated approach is one where one discipline incorporates data and some of the model structure from the other in a way that produces outputs that are meaningful to management.  This is the process that has evolved in Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and fisheries management. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America, and it is heavily influenced by land use resulting in nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) and sediment pollution.  The general belief is that this pollution has resulted in a reduction in fish production.  Early economic models that attempted to measure this reduction were not well-informed about estuarine ecological processes.  While sophisticated economically, these models often simply added nitrogen as an explanatory variable.  This had two effects: 1) the models performed poorly because they didn’t capture the appropriate link between nitrogen and fish production through its effect on dissolved oxygen; and 2) were not well-accepted by ecologists because of their ecological naivety.  Once economic models incorporate the estuarine ecology in an informed way, they became more widely accepted and used by managers to drive policy.
  • KEYWORDS: Making Integrated Ecological-Economic Models Useful, Special topics, Fisheries economics
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  • Lipton, Douglas. 2014. To Integrate or Inform: Experience Using Fisheries Ecological - Economic Models in Chesapeake Bay. In: Towards ecosystem based management of fisheries: what role can economics play?: Proceedings of the Seventeenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade, July 7-11, 2014, Brisbane, Australia. Complied by Ann L. Shriver & Melissa Errend. Corvallis, OR: International Institute of Fisheries.
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  • Fisheries Research & Development Corporation, World Wildlife Fund, MG Kailis Group, AquaFish Innovation Lab, NOAA Fisheries, The European Association of Fisheries Economists, Japan International Fisheries Research Society, United Nations University, NORAD
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