Can Self-thinning Be Used as a Production Control Mechanism? The Case of Mussel Farming in Quebec Public Deposited

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  • A bio-economic model, based on Faustmann rotation, was developed to analyze the relevance of removing thinning activities which are part of the dominant technology used in blue mussel production in Canada. Removing these density control activities (thinning) seemed a profitable option to producers. It was thought that this collector line technology would allow a part-time production, which would help start a small local industry in Eastern Québec. Biological and economic literature show the importance of density relationships upon mussel growth and harvest. Many advantages, such as restocking thinned mussel and improved growth rate, would therefore be lost. These dynamics, collectively called self-thinning in the biological literature, could be used to make this technology profitable if properly framed. Samples were taken on 140 foot-long lines used for collecting mussels of age 0+ to 3+ from local producers, as well as financial information. Analysis of population dynamics under this technology showed differences in yield and variability of samples taken at deep and shallow portions of the lines. Gompertz growth functions were fitted to these two cases. A Weibull CDF was then estimated to evaluate risk of fall-off for deep and shallow samples, determining the proportion of harvestable lines at a given time. Initial setting seemed more important then biomass growth to explain the large variability in yield. Results show that maximum revenue is attained after 4 years rather then 3, which is the current practice by local producers. In post-optimality analyses, the optimal rotation period seemed insensitive to most production or financial changes. Parameters considered reasonable to producers yielded negative profit while sub-standard subsidies allowed profitability. This function was more sensitive to changes on economic variables while reducing fall-off rate is also significant. Such changes could allow economic profit for producers.
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  • Bilodeau, Francis, James R. Wilson and Marcel Fréchette. 2006. Can Self-thinning Be Used as a Production Control Mechanism? The Case of Mussel Farming in Quebec. In: Proceedings of the Thirteenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade, July 11-14, 2006, Portsmouth, UK: Rebuilding Fisheries in an Uncertain Environment. Compiled by Ann L. Shriver. International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade, Corvallis, Oregon, USA, 2006. CD ROM. ISBN 0-9763432-3-1
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