The West Coast salmon fishery presents several complexities that have received little attention in the fisheries economics literature. Two of those complexities are reviewed and analyzed in this dissertation. The first, salmon fishermen participate in alternative fisheries within a season demonstrating a complex switching behavior between different species. Second, the fishery is based on a mixed-stock system where many re-productively isolated sub-populations are harvested simultaneously.
In the first essay, I used unique and comprehensive vessel-landing level data describing fishing trips of salmon troll vessels from 2005 to 2014 in a Random Utility Maximization framework. An empirical model is used to determine the effect of closures on the salmon fishery including the distribution of fishermen across fishing locations and alternative fisheries. The results suggest that fishermen respond to area-temporal closures in the salmon fishery by reallocating across space and/or alternative fisheries. This research contributes to the literature by illustrating the importance of fishermen behavior when rent differentials exist across space and species, leading to a complex distribution of effort.
In the second essay, I present a spatially explicit mixed-stock system that characterizes the West Coast salmon fishery. I used model simulations to explore the effect that monitoring regimes at different spatial scales of mixed-stock harvest composition have on achieving weak stock escapement goals and economic benefits for the fishery. Results suggest that spatial management of mixed-stock harvest composition allows for higher profits for the fleet -while meeting conservation goals- only when it takes place at fine spatial scales. In general, results of both essays illustrate that ecosystem-based fishery management requires managers to account for the complex behavior of harvesters and the dynamic spatial and ecological interactions of resources.