Allocation of research resources for commercially valuable invasions: Norway's red king crab fishery.
This paper models the optimal allocation of research resources aimed at understanding the consequences of a marine invasion. The model assumes returns to research are uncertain. Furthermore there are joint returns to research ahead of the invasion frontier and within the already invaded area. Research ahead of the frontier helps define external damages by establishing the baseline ecosystem services and values; research in the invaded area determines restoration needs and costs associated with controlling the invaded area's population. Additionally, research in the invaded area may improve management of any commercial aspect of the invading species, which may warrant accommodation. In such a case, simple application of the precautionary approach to the invasion has direct quantifiable costs in foregone commercial benefits. Benefits of research thus may accrue either from improved information regarding the potential or actual damages of the invasion, or from improved information for solving the common property management challenges of a commercial species. In the latter case, improved management heightens expectations of foregone benefits ahead of the frontier. We use the Red King Crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) invasion in Norway as a case study. The crab is a valuable global commodity whose invasive presence in the Barents Sea is impacting the benthos. Harvesting or controlling the crab reduces these impacts, but the net benefits of doing so are uncertain and require both baseline research and restoration research to ascertain. We distinguish the research for Red King Crab in different types based on the potential to reveal marginal external benefits from commercial harvesting. We illustrate how misallocation of research resources can be reduced when the uncertainties create incentives that promote research into tangible commercial benefits over less certain ecosystem benefits. Our analysis suggests that there is currently greater marginal benefit from directing more research resources toward baseline research at the frontier of the invasion instead of making additional investments in research that focuses on the commercial potential of the invasive yet valuable crab.