Working Paper

Dynamics of Spatial Exploitation: A Metapopulation Approach

Apr 1, 2000 | James N. Sanchirico, James E. Wilen


We present a bioeconomic model of a harvesting industry operating over a heterogeneous environment comprised of discrete biological populations interconnected by dispersal processes. The model generalizes the H. S. Gordon [1954]/V. Smith [1968] model of open-access rent dissipation by accounting for intertemporal and spatial "Ricardian" patterns of exploitation. This model yields a simple, but insightful, framework from which one can investigate factors that contribute to the evolution of resource exploitation patterns over space and time. For example, we find that exploitation patterns are driven by biological and fleet dispersal and biological and economic heterogeneity. We conclude that one cannot really understand the biological processes operating in an exploited system without knowing as much about the harvesting system as about the biological system.