Portfolio management of wild fish stocks
Managing fish stocks in terms of a portfolio of economic assets is likely to significantly increase benefits for society relative to single-species approaches. A portfolio framework systematically combines fish stocks that are joined by ecology (e.g., predation, competition) and unspecialized fishing technologies (e.g., mixed-species trawls) into a portfolio which balances expected aggregate returns against the risks associated with stock-attribute and other uncertainties. To be productive, however, this framework must be combined with property rights institutions that clearly state management objectives, create long-run time-horizons among harvesters, internalize spillovers caused by ecological and technological jointness, and reduce uncertainty through research and adaptive management. Although the cost of reducing scientific uncertainty about ecological interactions may limit the portfolio approach to intensive management of relatively few species, its scope can be broadened to integrate tradeoffs among more types of marine resources, such as nature preserves and oil and gas deposits.