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Saturday, 14 March 2015

Fisheries management in the public interest: a new model

Tools to model any activity take a good deal of research and ingenuity if you are to challenge established practice. Writing for the New Economics Foundation the UK's leading think tank promoting social, economic and environmental justice, Griffen Carpenter has created a new statistical model to help identify a way forwards and provide a starting poi t for discussion about a new way of managing the planet's finite assets.

"How should we manage our common resources? It’s not an easy question: what we want from a resource – whether it’s long-buried coal reserves or land for agriculture – can have a range of social, economic and environmental implications. We are particularly bad at balancing the needs of current and future generations, and Europe’s overfished waters are one clear example of this failure.The management of fisheries as a common resource is difficult in and of itself. Fisheries are plagued with patchy data and complicated interactions between fish stocks and fishing pressure.
For the past two years I have tackled this difficult question head on through the development of a bio-economic model of European fleets (BEMEF). Building on NEF’s success in demonstrating the economic benefits of sustainable fisheries, this model analyses the impact of reaching sustainable levels of fishing in a dynamic manner and estimates impacts to the fleet level. It is designed in a way so as to be accessible to the public and to present key assumptions to users in an effort to open up economic modelling to a wider audience.
Today we are launching the online version where you can play with the data or download the full excel-based model (warning: it’s quite large!). We have also released new research from BEMEF on the huge economic benefits of rebuilding fish stocks to sustainable levels and reallocating quota between fleets. 
This analysis of quota allocation between fleets is a new contribution to the fisheries debate. While the default assumption in the model is to allocate quota based on historic catch, as is current practice, this need not be the case. In managing our fisheries we could instead allocate fishing quota so as to achieve a particular aim, be that job creation, carbon reduction, profit maximisation, or otherwise – in fact the reformed EU Common Fisheries Policy requires us to consider socio-economic factors in quota allocation.