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Economic Model for Groundfish Production Relationships

Rockfish

ECONorthwest developed a model to estimate relationships in harvest data from Canada’s groundfishery.

The Challenge

In 2002, Canada enacted the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to protect endangered species and other species with populations in decline. Under SARA, Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) develops recovery strategies and action plans for aquatic species with declining populations.  As part of this process, DFO conducts research describing the economic consequences of harvest and sales restrictions of species at risk.

SARA has several economic consequences for Canada’s fisheries. One of the most important is bycatch, or fish caught unintentionally. Bycatch occurs occurs because technological limitations and other similar realities prevent fishermen from entirely avoiding individual species when fishing. As a consequence, policies that restrict the harvest of some specific species can impact the harvest of the fishery as a whole. This consequence is a particularly acute issue in Canada’s multi-species groundfishery.

In order to understand the likely economic impacts on the fishing industry of potential policies under SARA, DFO needed a set of empirical models capable of estimating how harvest restrictions on certain species could affect total harvest in the multi-species groundfishery. DFO asked ECONorthwest for help.

The Results

To conduct the analysis, ECONorthwest used historical harvest data from commercial fishing vessels. ECONorthwest created a user-friendly tool, based on a complex statistical model, that estimates changes in landings of different species groups subsequent to a change in fishery regulations.

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