Balanced harvesting is the bioeconomic equilibrium of a size-structured Beverton-Holt model

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Journal Article
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Oxford University Press (OUP)
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Plank MJ

© 2016 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. All rights reserved. Balanced harvesting (BH) was introduced as an alternative strategy to size-at-entry fishing with the aim of maintaining ecosystem structure and functioning. BH has been criticized on a number of grounds, including that it would require an infeasible level of micromanagement and enforcement. Recent results from a size-spectrum model show that the distribution of fishing mortality across body sizes that emerges from the behaviour of a large number of fishing agents corresponds to BH in a single species. Size-spectrum models differ from classical size-structured models used in fisheries as they are based on a bookkeeping of biomass transfer from prey to predator rather than a von Bertalanffy growth model. Here we investigate a classical Beverton-Holt model coupled with the Gordon-Schaefer harvesting model extended to allow for differential fishing pressure at different body sizes. This models an open-access fishery in which individual fishing agents act to maximize their own economic return. We show that the equilibrium of the harvesting model produces an aggregate fishing mortality that is closely matched to the production at different body sizes, in other words BH of a single species. These results have significant implications because they show that the robustness of BH does not depend on arguments about the relative production levels of small versus large fish.

Plank MJ (2017). Balanced harvesting is the bioeconomic equilibrium of a size-structured Beverton-Holt model. ICES Journal of Marine Science. Volume 74, Issue 1, January-February 2017, Pages 112–120
gillnet fishing, Gordon-Schaefer model, Nash equilibrium, production, size-selectivity, small-scale fisheries
Ngā upoko tukutuku/Māori subject headings
ANZSRC fields of research
Fields of Research::30 - Agricultural, veterinary and food sciences::3005 - Fisheries sciences::300505 - Fisheries management
Fields of Research::49 - Mathematical sciences::4901 - Applied mathematics::490102 - Biological mathematics