Seminar at Berkeley

Today, I will present the project Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management in the Barents Sea in the Environmental and Resource Economics seminar at the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley. The abstract:

While bioeconomic analysis has advanced to where high-level ecosystem management is technically possible in terms of multidimensional, stochastic optimization, the sentiment that the underlying, biological models are of limited interest is omnipresent. The existing models cannot capture the observed ecosystem or foodweb dynamics. For viable optimization schemes to apply, models have been, and will have to be, relatively simple when compared to population dynamics models. There exist a crucial tradeoff between biological detail and stylized simplicity. Biologically detailed models have been promoted by biologists who want their models to replicate what they observe in nature, while stylized simplicity has been promoted by resource economists who want to analyze economic decisions. We aim to narrow the gap and cheapen the tradeoff. We develop a bioeconomic model of the ecosystem in the Barents Sea. The model is fitted with data assimilation methods and captures the observed dynamics in the ecosystem and the economy. Using stochastic optimization, we study numerical solutions of the model. Optimal, non-concave harvest profiles underline the importance of the ecosystem approach. In the extension of our project, we will study how solutions from our top-down, optimization approach perform in a high-dimensional, bottom-up, simulation approach.

The project is interdisciplinary and finds itself where paths (or trails, really) from economics, biology, ecology, applied mathematics, and statistics meet. Thus, it is at the outskirts of all those disciplines. It is a rather dark place. It remains to be seen whether we can shed some light around. But enough of the Nordic realism.

I find it difficult to present papers from the project because they belong in a setting which cannot be taken light upon. My presentation will therefor span at least two papers, with focus on how to build a biological model for ecosystem-based management which lends itself to subsequent bioeconomic analysis. To drive home the importance of getting the biology right, I will also discuss how we proceed with the bioeconomic analysis.


Picture credits: Philip Steven,




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