News & Events

CIRES special seminar: Surprising global tradeoffs and synergies between fisheries and conservation

Monday, February 26, 2018, 3:00PM - 4:00PM


Matt Burgess


CIRES Auditorium

CU Boulder main campus

Understanding tradeoffs and synergies between stakeholder objectives is a major focus of environmental economics. In fisheries, it is conventional wisdom that ending overfishing of target fish stocks offers a synergy between fishery profits, food production, and the ecological health of these target stocks. In contrast, it is conventional wisdom that there is a tradeoff between maintaining fishery profits and conserving marine mammal, turtle, and bird species caught incidentally as fishery bycatch. Using theoretical and empirical evidence, I will argue that situations exactly opposite to these conventional wisdoms are common, especially in coastal waters of the developing world. With bycatch, we find that unsustainable mortality on marine mammal, turtle, and bird species very often goes hand-in-hand with overfishing of target fish stocks. Thus, reducing fishing pressure in these fisheries can solve both problems. In contrast, we find that classical single-species models used to manage target fish stocks can sometimes significantly overestimate the food production available in an ecosystem. Indeed, once species interactions are accounted for, we find that there can be a strong tradeoff between target stock health and food production, because the highest-yielding fishing strategies often involve depleting predator fish. We find less severe ecosystem-level tradeoffs between profit and target stock health, because predators often fetch the highest prices. Our findings carry important implications for managing ecosystems for the triple bottom line of economic, social, and ecological objectives. They also offer generalizable lessons about when resource management for multiple objectives can be made simpler, and when additional complexity is needed.


Matt Burgess is a quantitative environmental scientist with an interdisciplinary background in economics and ecology. His research focuses on developing pragmatic management solutions for complex natural resource systems. Originally hailing from Montreal, Canada, Matt got his Honours B.Sc. in 2009 from the University of Toronto, and his Ph.D. in 2014 from the University of Minnesota. He is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, and the Marine Science Institute, at the University of California, Santa Barbara.


Free and open to the public.