Adaptive Control Problems in Renewable Resource Development

Walters, C.J. (1975). Adaptive Control Problems in Renewable Resource Development. IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-75-007

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A major problem in ecological management is to devise strategies for dealing with the development of resources whose response characteristics are completely unknown when the development begins. To visualize the problem, imagine a large and featureless vista of open ocean with a fishing boat in the middle distance. Imagine also that you, as the fishery manager, have only a small row boat without even a periscope to look beneath the waves. The fishing boat you see is the first of a potential fleet, and your task is to decide how large that fleet should eventually be. Essentially your only source of information is the fleet itself: you can examine the catch, but your facilities will permit only a glimpse of the biological system from which it comes. Other fishery managers have dealt with the same problem on other fishes, but their experiences can give you only a qualitative idea of what to expect.

My objective in this paper is to state the problem as a question of adaptive control, in hopes that techniques and concepts of control systems theory may at least give us a better idea of how to go about the trials and errors of learning how resource systems work. I emphasize that my concern is with the development phase of resource management, not with the identification of optimum long-range equilibria. There is an extensive literature on the latter subject ("theory of fishing," etc.), but this literature largely presupposes a substantial data base acquired through some unspecified development period.

Historically the development process has been haphazard at best, as I will show with examples below. Ecological managers have usually done little more than demand caution (low development rates) until sufficient data has accumulated for the equilibrium models to be applied. Luckily, this attitude has usually been ignored in favor of economic interests, and development has proceeded. far enough for many exploited systems to show their full range of responses. If heeded, the cautious viewpoint of traditional ecologists might never lead to effective management for most ecological systems.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: Resources and Environment Area (REN)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 01:42
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:08

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