The primary objective of the project is to understand how fishers in the Barents Sea decide on inputs, such as vessel, gear, labor, fuel, given availability of fish, fishing rights, and environmental and market conditions, to produce seafood and fisheries products. Moments to consider are how input use changes with productivity growth and fish stock changes, and bycatch and fisher behavior more generally. Ecologocial relationships between various species in the Barents Sea ecosystem also need to be taken into account. Other relevant factors are climate change, market forces, and regulations. A key challenge will be to distinguish between the various impacts.
The project will rely on extensive knowledge and data on Barents Sea fisheries, including ecosystem models, the Norwegian fisheries profitability survey, data on fisheries and fish stocks from the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, and Global Fishing Watch data. This knowledge and data will form the basis for an ecological and economic understanding of production in the Barents Sea fisheries under uncertainty, climatic stress, and regulatory constraints.
The secondary project objective is to apply the understanding of Barents Sea fisheries production, in form of a production function, to calculate the social value of the resource use. These calculations forms basis for an evaluation of sustainable development and provide for measures of resource scarcity and limits to substitution that go beyond market-based evaluations (market prices).
The project addresses knowledge gaps of linkages between biodiversity and ecological functioning on one side and ecosystem services and resource exploitation on the other. Ecological and economic knowledge will be forged into a foundation for sustainable resource use from clean and healthy oceans.
We have made significant efforts on literature review, data collection, and method overview. An extension of the literature review is published in the article 'A machine learning analysis of the recent environmental and resource economics literature' (Kvamsdal et al. 2021, Environmental and Resource Economics). In the second half of 2021, we aim to complete a central contribution on an ecological model for the Barents Sea that uses comprehensive data from the Institute of Marine Research and where we use machine learning methods. Furthermore, several relevant articles are under review for publication.
The main research question is how inputs and outputs combine in the Barents Sea fisheries, and establish a measure of the resulting social value. A crucial moment is the consideration of productivity growth (growth in fishing power), which comprises technical change, changes in technical efficiency, and capacity utilization. Another important question is the role of resource abundance, not least how the relative abundance between different target and bycatch species affect production and possibly fisher behavior. Ecological interactions between species must also be taken into account. Further issues that we will consider are climatic drivers, market forces, and regulatory impacts on fisheries outcomes. A fundamental challenge will be to distinguish between changes in productivity, changes in abundance, ecological and environmental changes, and regulatory and market impacts.
Understanding fisheries requires an interdisciplinary approach and involves biology, ecology, economics, and governance, and requires statistical, methodological, and theoretical expertize. The project relies on a basic understanding of the functioning of the ecosystem, market and regulatory constraints and opportunities, technological development, and fisher behavior. We will further consider a trip-level analysis of fishing effort, resource use, and catches, considering variations across years, seasons, areas, and jurisdictions. We also engage with stakeholders to complement views on regulatory, economic, and environmental issues, and future scenarios for fisheries in the Barents Sea.
The project represents a broad, bottom-up approach to provide high-level indicators of sustainable development and measures of ecosystem wealth. These measures go beyond traditional, market based evaluations to reflect resource scarcity and limits to trophic substitutions and are fundamental to long-run progress in renewable resource use from clean and healthy oceans.