We develop a model to identify the welfare-optimal management of fisheries that operate in the global economy. Historically, fisheries economics has mainly focused on the loss of rent due to fleet overcapacity and less on the potential welfare gain by having a broader approach to fisheries management. The purpose of this paper is to address this gap. The model is applied to the pelagic fisheries of the Northeast Atlantic and considers the whole value chain, identifying resource rent and consumer and producer surpluses. The results show that the sum of the resource rent and the producer surplus in the harvest sector in 2007 was 32% of the landing value, compared with the maximum economic yield of 49%. Hence, the fisheries were quite well managed. To achieve the maximum sum of the resource rent and the producer surplus in the harvest sector, the fleet must be reduced from 156 vessels to 80 vessels. However, it must only be reduced to 93 vessels if the objective is to maximize economic welfare. The analysis shows that the main source of welfare improvement through the improved management of the North Atlantic pelagic fisheries is linked to the harvest sector (rent and producer surplus gains) and, to a lesser degree, to value chain gains. However, consumers will gain by moving from rent maximization to welfare maximization as long the fish stocks are above MSY levels.
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.