Balanced harvesting in fisheries: economic considerations
This paper explores economic aspects of a recent proposal to shift fisheries to a “Balanced Harvesting” (BH) strategy, as a means to achieve the goal, set by the Convention on Biological Diversity and related to the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries, of “conservation of ecosystem structure and functioning” within fishery ecosystems. Studies indicate that a BH strategy—broadening the range of species and sizes caught in the aquatic ecosystem, and lowering exploitation rates for some conventionally targeted species—may provide improved ecological performance relative to conventional harvesting strategies. However, the potential economic implications have received little attention to date. This paper provides a preliminary economic assessment of BH, focusing on six main themes: (i) assessing benefits and costs, (ii) factors affecting the economics of BH, (iii) economic issues in implementing the ingredients of BH, (iv) effects of incremental and/or partial implementation of BH, (v) transition options within the harvesting sector of the fishery, and (vi) distributional impacts arising across fisheries, fleet sectors, and fishing gears, and between the present and the future.