Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 72, Issue 2, pp 511–538 | Cite as

Considering Economic Efficiency in Ecosystem-Based Management: The Case of Horseshoe Crabs in Delaware Bay

  • Yue TanEmail author
  • Sunny L. Jardine


The welfare gains from incorporating ecosystem considerations into fisheries management are unclear and can vary widely between systems. Additionally, welfare gains depend on how ecosystem considerations are adopted. This paper uses an empirically parameterized bioeconomic model to explore the welfare implications of two definitions of ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM). We first define EBFM as a fishery management plan that maximizes the net present value of ecosystem services. We then explore an alternative definition that adds ecosystem considerations to a fishery managed with regulated open access. Our biological model reflects horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay, which are harvested in a commercial fishery and are ecologically linked to migrating shorebirds populations, e.g. the endangered red knot. We find that introducing ecosystem considerations to a regulated open access fishery generates welfare gains on par with gains from addressing the commons problem even when fishery rents are completely dissipated. Additionally, solving the commons problem within an EBFM approach can provide substantial welfare gains above those from solving the commons problem in a single-species management framework.


Bioeconomics Delayed optimal control Ecosystem-based fisheries management Horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemusNon-fishing values Open access Red knot (Calidris canutus rufa

JEL Classification

Q22 Q57 



We thank Lee Anderson for his support. We also thank Amanda Dey at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, James Lyons at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Stewart Michels at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), and Kevin Kalasz formerly at DNREC for help with the data. This research was supported by NOAA Sea Grant #NA14OAR4170087 to S.L.J.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10640_2017_204_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (766 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 765 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. and Charles Schwab BankLone TreeUSA
  2. 2.School of Marine and Environmental AffairsUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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