Economics of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon Stocks




Dale Marsden (PhD project)
Ussif Rashid Sumaila (Supervisor)


Research Project Description



Sockeye salmon have been key to British Columbia’s livelihood and culture for millennia. Many sockeye stocks show large cycles in abundance from year to year, but the causes of these cycles are not clear. As a result, Fraser River sockeye salmon stocks have historically been managed under the hypothesis of “cyclic dominance”, i.e., maintaining the cyclic behaviour of the stocks. Biological studies and changes in management have revealed that the potential yield of off-peak cycle lines could be much higher than was previously thought.

Major Research Questions

  1. How much better could the management of Fraser River sockeye have been, in terms of several different objectives, given what we now know about stock-recruitment dynamics?
  2. Given uncertainty about the underlying biology of the system, what are the likely economic implications of different management approaches that might be implemented?

Analytical Framework

To address the first question I will conduct a retrospective analysis of management performance. I will use stock-recruitment data as the basis of the biological dynamics, and use prices, fishing costs and fishing capacity considerations to incorporate economics. We will then use a non-linear numerical optimization routine to “find” a fishery that maximizes a variety of objective functions that incorporate economic and social considerations.

I will use a Bayesian decision analysis framework to address the second question. The analysis will incorporate past estimates of stock-recruitment parameters and model structure. The outcomes under different management approaches will then be simulated and the associated costs and benefits calculated. This method allows trade-offs to be examined while taking uncertainty explicitly into account.

Project Duration

Two years (started December 2005).

Funding Sources

Doctoral Fellowship, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

University Graduate Fellowship , University of British Columbia

The Economic and Regulatory Affairs Directorate of Environment Canada, through an Applied Environmental Economics and Policy Research Scholarship

PhD Tuition Award, University of British Columbia Green Graduate Scholarship, Green College, University of British ColumbiaLast Updated: February 2006.