Can Cooperative Management of Tuna Fisheries in the Western Pacific Solve the Growth Overfishing Problem?

M.L. Bailey, U. Rashid Sumaila, S.J.D. Martell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Tuna fisheries in the western and central Pacific Ocean are important globally for both food and economic security. Yellowfin and bigeye tuna stocks in this region are declining, in part due to the juvenile bycatch of these species by the purse seine fishery using floating objects and fish aggregating devices (FADs). This leads to a conflict between the longline and handline fisheries, which target adult fish, and the purse seine fishery, whose bycatch is leading to growth overfishing. This paper develops a bioeconomic game-theoretic equilibrium model to determine if, at equilibrium, the elimination of juvenile fishing could bring economic benefits to the region. Specifically, we examine non-cooperative and cooperative outcomes for a three-player game: purse seine, longline and handline, incorporating skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye as target species. Our results suggest that the reduction or elimination of fishing on floating objects could result in increased net benefits to the region from US $100 million to US $350 million per year; however, this gain is not shared equitably among the three fisheries. Notably, purse seine fisheries stand to lose economically through this type of management decision. The realization of potential economic gains for this region will require the formation of a cooperative sharing system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-66
JournalStrategic Behavior and the Environment
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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