Cutting Edge > Complex Systems > Teaching Activities > The Fishing Game

The Fishing Game

William Prothero
,
University of California, Santa Barbara
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Summary

The Fishing Game pits students against two virtual fishing companies. The goal is to maximize the company's bank account at the end of 10 years' fishing. This almost always results in a crash of the fishing population and ultimate demise of the fishing company.

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Context

Audience

This exercise can be used in any course addressing ocean systems, population dynamics, resource management, or human impact on the environment.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

It would be helpful to assign students some online reading related to the world fisheries. The web site listed below has links to pertinent information about the world fisheries and a history of different management strategies. The history of the destruction of the New England cod fishery can provide perspective.

How the activity is situated in the course

This exercise can be used as a stand-alone homework or lab activity.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

The goal of the Fishing Game is that players will understand why companies that profit from shared resources nearly always over-exploit them, and what management strategies might help sustain them and still provide a long term profit.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Analysis of complex systems interactions

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

The Fishing Game pits students against two virtual fishing companies. The goal is to maximize the company's bank account at the end of 10 years' fishing. This almost always results in a crash of the fishing population and ultimate demise of the fishing company. The player tries each of 4 resource management models in an attempt to both maximize profit and save the fisheries for the long term. A population modeling tool allows predictions to be made based on fishing effort and the management limitations. For example, fishing season length, % of marine reserves, or catch share, can be set depending on the chosen scenario. The results of game play are emailed to the instructor or can be printed out to hand in.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Written or oral report

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

The game, with supporting materials for instructors, is available at http://fishbanks.org/.

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