An indicator for ecosystem externalities in fishing

Lars Ravn-Jonsen, Ken Haste Andersen, Niels Vestergaard

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Ecosystem externalities arise when one use of an ecosystem affects its other uses through the production functions of the ecosystem. We use simulations with a size-spectrum ecosystem model to investigate the ecosystem externality created by fishing of multiple species. The model is based upon general ecological principles and is calibrated to the North Sea. Two fleets are considered: a "forage fish" fleet targeting species that mature at small sizes and a "large fish" fleet targeting large piscivorous species. Based on the marginal analysis of the present value of the rent, we develop a benefit indicator that explicitly divides the consequences of fishing into internal and external benefits. This analysis demonstrates that the forage fish fleet has a notable economic impact on the large fish fleet, but the reverse is not true. The impact can be either negative or positive, which entails that for optimal economic exploitation, the forage fishery has to be adjusted according to the large fish fishery. With the present large fish fishery in the North Sea, the two fisheries are well adjusted; however, the present combined exploitation level is too high to achieve optimal economic rents.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNatural Resource Modeling
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)400-425
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Benefit indicator
  • Ecosystem externalities
  • Fisheries management
  • Forage fish
  • Marine ecosystems
  • North Sea
  • Size-based


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