Economic Information in U.S. Fisheries Policy: Gaps Between Theory, Information and Capability
Creators:Hushak, Leroy J.
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Publisher:Ohio State University. Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics
Series/Report no.:Ohio State University. Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. ESO (Economics and Sociology Occasional Paper). No. 1944
Fisheries management agencies in the United States are increasingly being called upon to incorporate economic and social information into fisheries management decisions. This increased "people orientation" of fisheries management is limited by two factors. First, the base of empirical studies on which to draw for the needed information frequently contains results which are only partially applicable to the policy decision. Second, fisheries management agencies in most cases do not employ economists or other social scientists at the policy making level who are involved in the design of management policies which provide appropriate economic incentives and incorporate the limited information which is available. Empirical results are limited for two reasons. First, there has been rapid improvement in theoretical and quantitative models for estimation of the net economic value or welfare of fisheries resources (consumer surplus, producers surplus, etc.). As a result, there has not been sufficient time for the accumulation of empirical information about fishery resource values based on consistent theory and estimation methods. Second, there is a bias in U.S. funding of research toward the development of new theoretical and quantitative tools to the neglect of obtaining the needed empirical estimates on which to base management decisions. Resource management agencies in the U.S. fail to employ economists at the policy making level for two reasons. First, resource management agency heads have not made the transition from the "management of fish" to the "management of people." Second, they are not aware of the contributions that economists make to the policy frameworks of other areas such as agriculture. The major focus of this paper is on discussion of the gaps between theory and resulting empirical knowledge, with a more limited focus on how the lack of economists at the policy making level limits the types of policies in place for U.S. fisheries. There are two major requirements if economics and other social sciences are to take their proper role in fisheries management. First, increased support for the data base and the social science research base is required. Second, economists and other social scientists must become integral parts of the fisheries management policy process.
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