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In collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, the Sustainable Fisheries Group at the University of California, Santa Barbara will conduct a bio-economic evaluation of alternative scenarios for the institutional structure of the tuna fisheries in the Western Central Pacific Ocean. The primary goal of the Tuna Project is to ensure that the management of the Pacific tuna fisheries—which are among the most valuable commercial fisheries in the world—chart a path towards sustainable and economically sound management of tuna catch and bycatch, supporting both the long-term viability of the fisheries and fisher livelihoods. Modeling scenarios will be selected during the project, but may include: (A) Status quo - where management that is currently in place continues- effort is limited by the Vessel Day Scheme, there is a 4 month FAD closure, and a $1000 FAD tax (per set), (B) FAD Taxes - where different levels of taxes are applied per set to fish on different FADs, (C) Transferable effort – where fishing effort is regulated by the Vessel Day Scheme and bycatch is regulated through an transferable effort allocation system, (D) Relative performance system (effort based) - where bycatch would be limited using a relative bycatch per unit of target catch per unit of fishing effort (ex. fishing day), and (E) Absolute performance system (effort based) - where a rate of bycatch per unit of effort is set to achieve a desired level of total bycatch. For each of the fisheries management options, SFG will model the likely effects on outcomes such as: bycatch level, permit prices, target species catch, and fishing costs (among other outcomes). This will be used to help advise relevant stakeholders about the potential costs and benefits of advocating for alternative management institutions.
The Sustainable Fisheries Group, along with experts from the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, NOAA, The Nature Conservancy and likely other organizations, will engage in a technical workshop to identify data sources, model parameters, and appropriate indicators of policy performance on both biological resources and economic incentives faced by tuna fishers early in the project. The Sustainable Fisheries Group will use this information throughout the development and refinement of a bio-economic model which will analyze and compare the performance of alternative management scenarios on indicators of fishery and fisher wellbeing in the Pacific tuna industry. The Sustainable Fisheries Group will provide a final summary of the results in collaboration with project advisors and partners which may be suitable for future submission to a peer-reviewed publication. The project approach and results will then be socialized to key players in the region.