Date of Award

5-2018

Level of Access

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Interdisciplinary Program

Advisor

Yong Chen

Second Committee Member

Jenny Sun

Third Committee Member

Andrew Pershing

Additional Committee Members

Mario Teisl

Eric Thunberg

Abstract

This thesis explores the inter-disciplinary space that lies between fisheries management and stock conservation, resource extraction and economic return at the individual producer level, balanced with societal welfare. It considers policy implications in support of changing marine ecosystems and considers the values of the Maine lobster communities, which depend on it. We conducted a comprehensive lobster industry survey to assess costs and effort expended at the producer level for a representative fishing year, and establish a series of production function performance baselines for future comparison. The demographic data, attitudes and valuations collected allow us to characterize the fishing effort and regional dependency on the resource. We look at the Maine Lobster limited entry licensing system, to understand how the future participation in the fishery might change, and how Maine’s communities might be affected. We examine the influences of ex-vessel price in the Maine lobster fleet, as a primary driver of profitability and economic value of the fishery. We apply multiple disciplines, and present four separate essays, with appendices containing the tabulated results of our three surveys. First, we evaluate and model a stochastic frontier production analysis to assess lobster producer efficiency and create a vessel-level profitability model. We then evaluate willingness to pay for a Maine Lobster license model with a censored regression Tobit model, and general linear regressions to evaluate desired number of traps, as stated by existing and potential new entrants. We explore the variety of influences of ex-vessel price through a multiple linear regression, building on previous studies that demonstrated an inverse demand price response in the Maine fleet; we consider how changes in monthly landings have created excessive inventory holdings and examine this has on ex-vessel price. We then conclude by applying a retrospective analysis to evaluate future profitability and economic performance in the fishery, under potential changing conditions facing the coupled natural and human system. In aggregate these analyses identify risks of overcapitalization in the Maine Lobster fishery which are likely to confound efforts to effectively manage the resource in times of changing harvest patterns, and in light of variability in supply and market demand.

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