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Adaptive behaviour of fishers to external perturbations: simulation of the Tasmanian rock lobster fishery
The rock lobster, Jasus edwardsii, lies on a global “hotspot” for climate change in the southeastern Australian state of Tasmania. The short-term effects of climate change are predicted to lead to an increasing exploitable biomass in the south and declining biomass in the north of the state. The future of the fishery is highly uncertain due to climate change, but also due to insecurities linked to the market conditions. The market for Tasmanian rock lobster is driven by the demand of a single market, China, which absorbs 75 % of the catch. This study examines how fishers can adapt to external perturbations that affect the social and economic viability of the fleet and the ecological dynamics of the stock. Three fleet dynamic models of increasing complexity are used to investigate the effects of climate change and lobster price changes on the fishery. There could be local depletion leading to negative short-term profit for the fleet if it is static and the proportion of the total catch taken in each region of the fishery does not respond to climate-induced-changes. Better outcomes would occur if the fleet adapts dynamically to environmental conditions, and fishing effort follows stock abundance, which would counter-act the short-term effects of climate change. Only a model with explicit representation of economic drivers can fully capture the local economic and social impacts of large scale global perturbations.
Publication titleReviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries