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Resource Allocation in Fisheries

Resource allocation between commercial and recreational sectors in fisheries can be a contentious issue. Fisheries managers are often faced with providing advice on the difficult decision of selecting which resource user groups will benefit and which will lose from the allocation of finite resources. This means that fishery resources allocation may often be a trade-off between different resource uses where, apart from the overriding resource sustainability objective, governments typically seek to optimise the social and economic benefits.

The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation has funded research, led by John Nicholls from Economic Research Associates and assisted by Data Analysis Australia, to develop a practical socio-economic framework that can be used by fisheries managers to address this issue. Three fisheries will be investigated over the period of the contract, firstly crabs in the Cockburn Sound Fishery, and subsequently, the Perth Metropolitan Abalone Fishery and the Finfish Fishery.

The most appropriate method of gathering this type of socio-economic information was found to be surveys. Data Analysis Australia is assisting in the design of the methodology, management and implementation of the surveys and the analysis of the collated data. Data on Cockburn Sound commercial crabbing activity is being sought through a detailed survey questionnaire. The commercial survey and analysis side is being developed with the assistance of Rebecca Gordon, Business Analyst at Data Analysis Australia.

Jodie Thompson, Senior Consultant Statistician, is managing the recreational survey and analysis for this project. The recreational survey is more complex, in that it measures the value recreational fishers place in Cockburn Sound crabbing that incorporates not only the costs, but the social benefit of crab fishing in this area. The methodology incorporates 'contingent valuation', which is a statistical and economic tool that has respondents think about what monetary value they place on additional catch in a given scenario. The recreational fishing survey therefore accounts for the social aspect of crabbing, which may compensate for a lower catch, or a lower marginal economic benefit (ie if the costs outweigh the value of the catch).

The allocation model based on the value of the fishery to each resource user extends from the crab fishery to the two other fisheries with different allocation dynamics. The research aims to develop a framework adaptable to any fishery.

This project provides a good example of how Data Analysis Australia works in conjunction with other specialist consultancies and applies survey and analysis expertise in different fields.

January 2002