A decision model to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of alternative Virginia oyster grounds management strategies
Thunberg, Eric M.
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Public and private concern over the decline of Virginia's oyster industry prompted the General Assembly (GA) in 1977 and 1983 to commission its Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to examine the State's oyster grounds management policies. In response to JLARC's findings the GA directed Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) to construct and implement an oyster fisheries management plan. The GA set as the plan's objective to achieve the greatest production level possible subject to limits of physical resource availability and technical feasibility. That the plan should be attentive to cost-effectiveness was also expressed by the GA. In developing its management plan VMRC must consider a variety of environmental, economic and political factors affecting the production and harvest of market oysters. A linear programming model developed for VMRC's use in evaluating alternative oyster grounds management strategies is described. The objective of the programming model is to minimize the public plus private cost of producing a prespecified level of market oyster harvest over a ten year planning horizon. The model includes as its activities the different aquacultural techniques used by private planters and VMRC in its repletion program. The many environmental, economic and political factors are incorporated into the model's constraints and technical coefficients. Several management alternatives are evaluated with the model. The results of these analyses indicate that without a fundamental in the oyster repletion program, even if new oyster grounds management policies are considered, there would be little change in public grounds market oyster harvest over current levels. Under revised repletion program practices, however, marked increases in public grounds harvest could be effected for relatively small increases in repletion program budget allocations over current levels.
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