Working Paper

Marine Reserves: Is There a Free Lunch?

Dec 1, 1998 | James N. Sanchirico, James E. Wilen


This paper employs a spatial and intertemporal model of renewable resource exploitation to investigate the effects of marine reserve creation. The model combines the H. S. Gordon/Vernon Smith hypothesis of a rent dissipation process with Ricardian notions that resources are exploited across space in a pattern dependent upon relative profitabilities. The metapopulation model employed here incorporates modern biological ideas that stress patch heterogeneity, linkages, and dispersal processes between patches. The spatial bioeconomic model is then used to simulate the effects of reserve creation under various ecological structures. We find, under certain parameter configurations and ecological linkages, that there is potential for a "double-dividend" where both aggregate biomass and harvest increase after an area of the fishery is set aside and protected from exploitation.