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This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 39 No. 1, p. 71-78
    Received: Sept 11, 2009

    * Corresponding author(s): thorson@vt.edu
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Competing Interests, Economics, and Marine Fisheries Management: An Educational Case Study

  1. James T. Thorson *a,
  2. Jim Berksonb and
  3. Brian Murphyc
  1. a Virginia Tech/NMFS-RTR Unit; 101 Cheatham Hall; Blacksburg, VA 24061 (currently: Univ. of Washington, School of Aquatic & Fishery Scineces, Box 355020, Seattle, WA 98195-5020)
    b National Marine Fisheries Service, Recruitment, Training and Retention Unit at Virginia Tech, 114 Cheatham Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061
    c Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 100 Cheatham Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061


Managing fish resources in the ocean, known as marine fisheries management, often involves disagreement among many groups of people: commercial fishers, recreational anglers, national and local conservationists, and several branches of government. While managing marine fisheries in federal waters, the federal government must rebuild marine fish populations while balancing the economic demands of these competing groups. Red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) is a particularly useful example, involving more than 200,000 people and $80 million each year in the Gulf of Mexico. After a lawsuit won by conservation groups in 2007, the National Marine Fisheries Service was required to tighten management while selecting from many possible management tools. We envision that students will read this case study and participate in classroom discussion using the questions and teaching notes that are included. Students will then be divided between recreation and commercial user groups, and will advocate for their user group in a classroom role play in an attempt to persuade a third group: student resource managers. These student resource managers will ultimately select a set of allocation and management actions for the red snapper fishery that will decrease total catch as required by the 2007 court case, which can be compared with real-world decisions. This study aims to illustrate the complex conflicts and economic issues that surround fisheries management decisions. The learning objectives are: (1) to develop and demonstrate students’ ability to craft arguments in a debate, and (2) to build student experience working as a team doing research and planning an argument.

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