POSEIDON: Process-based Ocean-system Simulation for Evolving Integrated Domains and Operational Needs


SFG is working with a multi-institutional team to develop and evaluate adaptive ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) approaches that can be applied in diverse contexts. A major component of this project is the development of an agent-based modeling (ABM) tool, which will be used to simulate fisher behavior and inform management strategy evaluations. The ABM will be used to forecast vessel behavior under a range of policy and ecological scenarios. The ultimate objective of this tool and our related research is to design ecosystem-based fishery management strategies for both industrial and small-scale fisheries in developing countries that are faster, simpler, and more cost effective, with built-in resilience to environmental changes.


Fisheries worldwide are currently managed such that human behavior is the only thing being controlled; managers can implement policies that dictate how many fish an individual can catch, but they have no control over the dynamics of the populations being fished. While setting controls on human behavior is the standard for fisheries management, there are still many unknowns when it comes to the human aspect of management. Because it is impossible to experiment with people and fishery policies in real time, evaluating these knowledge gaps can be difficult. Our tool is designed with this challenge in mind. We hypothesize that an ABM, when coupled with an ecosystem model, can provide a ‘flight simulator’ that is realistic enough to test new management strategies, including those that involve complex combinations of policies.  By combining the ABM development with basic research on EBFM, we hope to advance a mix of simplistic, applied solutions to the EBFM challenge in both developed and developing world contexts.


SFG is providing ongoing expert advice to project partners who are leading the construction of the ABM, and we are developing hypotheses and assisting in model validation. Our research contributions to this project include incorporating behavioral economics into fisheries science, evaluating tradeoffs between objectives, and developing approaches to prioritize new data collection efforts. 


This project is a collaborative effort between SFG, The Ocean Conservancy, Oxford University, and George Mason University.