The Atlantic Surfclam Fishery and Offshore Wind Energy Development: 1. Model Development and Verification
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Competing pressures imposed by climate-related warming and offshore development have created a need for quantitative approaches that anticipate fisheries responses to these challenges. This study used a spatially explicit, ecological-economic agent-based model integrating dynamics associated with Atlantic surfclam stock biology, decision-making behavior of fishing vessel captains, and fishing fleet behavior to simulate stock biomass, and fishing vessel catch, effort and landings. Simulations were implemented using contemporary Atlantic surfclam stock distributions and characteristics of the surfclam fishing fleet. Simulated distribution of fishable surfclam biomass was determined by a spatially varying mortality rate, fishing by the fleet was controlled by captain decisions based on previous knowledge, information sharing, and the ability to search and find fishing grounds. Quantitative and qualitative evaluation of simulation results showed that this modeling approach sufficiently represents Atlantic surfclam fishery dynamics. A fishing simulation showed that the captain's decision-making and stock knowledge, and the distribution of fishing grounds relative to home ports controlled the landed catch. The approach used herein serves as the basis for future studies examining response of the Atlantic surfclam fishery to a nexus of simultaneous, complex natural and anthropogenic pressures, and provides a framework for similar models for other resources facing similar pressures.