The economic optimality of learning from marine protected areas

Klaas Hartmann, Lance Bode, Paul Armsworth


Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are an emerging tool for managing marine resources. Many of the benefits associated with MPAs have been widely investigated and the field is an active area of research in theoretical ecology. One benefit of MPAs that has remained largely overlooked is their value as a tool for learning about the population dynamics of a fishery. We investigate the economic optimality of implementing an MPA, purely for the purpose of obtaining more informative data about a fish population, thereby allowing a better management strategy. A stochastic dynamic programming framework for finding optimal management strategies in this scenario is developed. A simple example is investigated using this framework, with the results illustrating that in some situations the knowledge gained from MPAs can be sufficient to make their creation economically optimal. This establishes an additional benefit of MPAs that should be considered further by fishery managers.

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ANZIAM Journal, ISSN 1446-8735, copyright Australian Mathematical Society.