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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The value of information for fisheries policy Cisneros-Montemayor, Andrés M.


For policy-makers and managers, knowing what information to collect is just as important as collecting information. I apply economics-based methods, including the value of information approach, to natural resource management in order to identify new optimal policies and priority areas for investment. Explicitly incorporating uncertainty is key to these methods, both in formally acknowledging alternative hypothesis and strategies, and for selecting policies that are most robust to uncertainty about natural and social systems. Given their differences in objectives and current challenges, I develop and apply methods to both developing and developed marine fisheries. In Mexico, for example, I estimate that total fish catch over the last fifty years could be almost twice that reported in official data. This ‘informal’ catch reduces economic benefits from fisheries output, including informal processing and sales that add less value to production. Based on current monitoring investment and informal catch rates, I estimate that this represents an almost US$1 billion annual loss in foregone economic impacts, that could be partially gained by an annual investment of US$100 million to increase formalization of current catch. The benefits of assessing information value are not limited to developing fisheries or “data-poor” contexts. Linking ecosystem models with economic data and frameworks, I estimate that the supporting service value of forage fishes as food for other fished species vastly outweighs their yearly landed value (in the Southern Baja California Peninsula, US$180 million compared to US$62 million). For the California Current, which includes Mexico, the US and Canada, I couple game-theoretic and ecosystem models and find that moving beyond single-species valuation supports arguments for sustainable fishing of forage fishes, and creates incentives for cooperative fishing strategies across a range of climate scenarios. Aside from developing new and broadly applicable methods and frameworks, the overarching finding of this work is that it is always beneficial to formally and openly acknowledge uncertainty and alternative management strategies in natural resource assessments. This allows us to provide robust advice to policy-makers given, and not stymied by, uncertainty.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada