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Exploring the effect of the spatial scale of fishery management


For any spatially explicit management, determining the appropriate spatial scale of management decisions is critical to success at achieving a given management goal. Specifically, managers must decide how much to subdivide a given managed region: from implementing a uniform approach across the region to considering a unique approach in each of one hundred patches and everything in between. Spatially explicit approaches, such as the implementation of marine spatial planning and marine reserves, are increasingly used in fishery management. Using a spatially explicit bioeconomic model, we quantify how the management scale affects optimal fishery profit, biomass, fishery effort, and the fraction of habitat in marine reserves. We find that, if habitats are randomly distributed, the fishery profit increases almost linearly with the number of segments. However, if habitats are positively autocorrelated, then the fishery profit increases with diminishing returns. Therefore, the true optimum in management scale given cost to subdivision depends on the habitat distribution pattern.

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