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Economics & Social Sciences Research Program

An Integrated Regional Economic-Ecological Model of Alaska Fisheries

Commercially valuable fish species are dependent on many other species that share their habitat. Therefore, for formulating renewable fishery resource policies, it is important to understand the ecological relationships between these species. It is also important to understand how these fishery resource policies affect the interaction between human activity, the economy, and the marine ecosystem.

In this project, an integrated ecological/economic model was developed for Alaska fisheries, which was designed to track both ecological relationships and human activities. The ecosystem model, called general equilibrium ecosystem model (GEEM), was combined with a regional economic computable general equilibrium (CGE) model. Principal investigators at the University of Wyoming completed this project.

The project yielded the following outputs:

-  A simulation of how human responses to changing prices of goods and factors causes changing energy prices in the ecosystem to which plants and animals respond;

-  Estimates of the changes in economic welfare and ecological population attributable to alternative harvesting quotas;

-  Measures of how the ecosystem externality generated by harvesting (an ecosystem service) impacts tourism (another ecosystem service);

-  Welfare measures associated with changes in "charismatic" marine mammal populations; and

-  A method for introducing a renewable resource into a CGE model.

The integrated ecosystem approach provides more useful information to policy-makers than stand-alone regional economic or ecological models for fisheries, and better satisfies National Standard 8 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act's National Standard Guidelines. While the economic and ecological underpinnings of this approach can be extended and improved in many ways, the CGE/GEEM approach is a step toward integrating disciplines with common structures and goals.

By Chang Seung

Estimating Regional Economic Impacts of Alaska Crab Rationalization

In the time since the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) crab fisheries were rationalized in 2005, there have been rapid and dramatic changes within the industry. While total harvest in the Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea opilio crab fisheries increased in 2005 relative to 2004, the number of vessels and crew members participating in both fisheries fell markedly. The effects of this consolidation have not been formally evaluated, nor have the complex changes that occurred with the timing and location of crab processing.

Fishery managers and the public at large have expressed an interest in knowing how and by how much crab rationalization has affected employment and earnings of vessels and processors and the economic well-being of communities dependent on crab fisheries. This project will investigate these economic impacts by developing a regional economic model for Alaska and Washington that will provide fishery managers with the information on how the economic returns of stakeholders changed under crab rationalization.

The model may also be used to estimate how alternative crab individual processor quota (IPQ) allocations will affect stakeholders and their communities. By estimating economic impacts of crab rationalization on fishery-dependent communities, this project will help address National Standard 8 and other federal mandates. The results of this project will also assist managers in considering and formulating modifications to BSAI crab fishery policies.

By Chang Seung

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