Bioeconomic modelling of grey seal predation impacts on the West of Scotland demersal fisheries

Trijoulet, Vanessa and Dobby, Helen and Holmes, Steven J. and Cook, Robin M. (2018) Bioeconomic modelling of grey seal predation impacts on the West of Scotland demersal fisheries. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 75 (4). pp. 1374-1382. ISSN 1054-3139

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    Abstract

    The role grey seals have played in the performance of fisheries is controversial and a cause of much debate between fishers and conservationists. Most studies focus on the effects of seal damage to gears or fish and on prey population abundance but little attention is given to the consequences of the latter for the fisheries. We develop a model that quantifies the economic impact of grey seal predation on the West of Scotland demersal fisheries that traditionally targeted cod, haddock and whiting. Three contrasting fishing strategy scenarios are examined to assess impacts on equilibrium fleet revenues under different levels of seal predation. These include status quo fishing mortality (SQF, steady state with constant fishing mortality), open access fishing (bioeconomic equilibrium, BE) and the maximum economic yield (MEY). In all scenarios, cod emerges as the key stock. Large whitefish trawlers are most sensitive to seal predation due to their higher cod revenues but seal impacts are minor at the aggregate fishery level. Scenarios that consider dynamic fleet behaviour also show the greatest effects of seal predation. Results are sensitive to the choice of seal foraging model where a type II functional response increases sensitivity to seal predation. The cost to the fishery for each seal is estimated.