• Open Access

Bioeconomic losses from overharvesting tuna

Authors

  • Tom Kompas,

    1. Crawford School of Economics and Government, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
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  • R. Quentin Grafton,

    1. Crawford School of Economics and Government, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
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  • Tuong Nhu Che

    1. Crawford School of Economics and Government, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
    2. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, GPO Box 1563, Canberra 2601, Australia
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  • The views expressed in this article by Tuong Nhu Che do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

  • Author Contributions: TK designed the algorithm to solve the problem, performed the research and helped write the article, RQG performed the research, and designed and helped write the article, TNC performed the research and helped analyze the data.

  • Editor: Prof. Stephen Polasky

Professor R. Quentin Grafton, Crawford Building (132), Lennox Crossing, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia. Tel: +61-2-6125-6558; fax: +61-2-6125-5570; E-mail: quentin.grafton@anu.edu.au

Abstract

Stochastic dynamic programming is used to model the world's largest fishery—tunas of the western and central Pacific—and to show that adopting a biomass target that maximizes the discounted economic profits (BMEY) from harvesting would result in larger stocks compared to de facto biological targets, and also lower catches relative to business as usual. This result is obtained for the three major tuna species, including skipjack tuna, which is not currently considered to be overfished biologically. Gains from larger tuna stocks are shown to exceed US$ 3 billion and increase the likelihood of stock rebuilding as some of these higher profits could be used to compensate fishers and countries for transitional losses to higher biomass levels. Adopting a dynamic BMEY target thus offers a potential “win-win”—better conservation outcomes with larger fish stocks and higher economic profits.

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