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Climate change, shifting threat points, and the management of transboundary fish stocks

U. Rashid Sumaila, Fisheries Economics Research Unit, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia; School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Juliano Palacios-Abrantes, Changing Ocean Research Unit, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
William W. L. Cheung, Changing Ocean Research Unit, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-11660-250440

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Abstract

We apply the concept of threat points in game theory to explore the stability of current joint management arrangements for shared transboundary fish stocks between Canada and the United States. We use three examples to explore the effects of projected impacts of climate change on the productivity and distribution of these stocks between the exclusive economic zones of the two countries. The three stocks that we study are: Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and yellowtail flounder (Limanda ferruginea) within the Gulf of Maine, and Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) in the Pacific Coast. We define a threat point as the payoffs that the fisheries in Canada and the United States take home given the current management agreement between the two countries. This is an application of John Nash’s threat point, defined as the minimum payoffs that each player in a game theoretic model must receive for the solution to a cooperative game to be stable, which is usually the outcome of a noncooperative game. First, we compute the threat points, that is, the current profits that Canada and the United States derive from the three shared stocks, respectively. Next, we build an ensemble of climate-marine ecosystem and economic models and use them to determine how climate change is likely to change current profits received by each country relative to the shifts in their threat points. We find that in some cases the profits obtained by fisheries in Canada and the United States would change under climate change both in absolute and relative terms resulting in relative changes in threat points. These relative changes in threat points serve as the basis for our discussion of the stability of current transboundary management agreements between Canada and the United States for these important shared stocks in the face of climate change.

Key words

Atlantic cod; climate change; joint management; Pacific halibut; shared stocks; yellowtail flounder

Copyright © 2020 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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