Beyond Band-Aids:
Setting Appropiate Incentives in Marine Fisheries

Ray Hilborn - Professor of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, University of Washington

Seminar Abstract:

In the search for sustainable fisheries, overfishing has repeatedly been
defined as the  primary problem with the oft repeated litany of 33% of US
fish stocks being overfished or depleted found in almost every
publication.  The solution generally proposed is precautionary reductions
in catch levels, ecosystem management  and establishment of marine
reserves . Yet in the US overfishing is causing only a 14% loss in yield.
These small losses contrast strongly with $2.9 billion in wasted
expenditure in the US for fish products valued at $3.5 billion  due
primarily to overcapitalization and the race for fish and $100 billion
worldwide.   Worldwide the discarding of 27 million tons compared to 84
million tons retained is a much greater problem.   The prescriptions of
lower harvest rates, ecosystem management and marine protected areas do
not address the key failings in our fisheries systems, and overfishing is
a symptom of poor governance systems rather than the disease to be
treated. The examples from around the world of well managed fisheries
shows that the key to success is a system of marine governance that sets
incentives so that what is in fishermen's, manager's and scientist's
interest is also in societies interest. The majority of existing
governance structures in the U.S. encourage fishermen to overexploit and
over-invest, managers to increase expenditure on the fishery and
scientists to treat management related activity as peripheral to their
central role as scientists.


Ray Hilborn is the Richard C. and Lois M. Worthington Professor of Fisheries Management in the School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences at the University of Washington, and has been with this department since 1987.  He currently serves as an advisor to several international fisheries commissions and agencies as well as teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in fisheries stock assessment, risk analysis, and the scientific method.  Ray published “Quantitative fisheries stock assessment” with Carl Walters in 1992, and “The Ecological Detective: confronting models with data” with Marc Mangel, in 1997.  Major areas of current and past research interest include the relationship between shifts in oceanographic regimes, productivity and the salmon populations of western Alaska, Bayesian analysis of decision making in natural resources, the dynamics of the Serengeti ecosystem in east Africa, the role of hatcheries in management of Pacific salmon and marine fishes, the ability of institutions to learn from experience, the ecological dynamics of fishing fleets, and the theory and practice of adaptive management.

©ThomasNash 2001


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