For people who make a living by harvesting natural resources, income volatility is a persistent threat. Crops could fail. Fisheries could collapse. Forests could burn. These and other factors—including changing management regulations and practices—can lower harvests, which depresses income for farmers, fishers and timber harvesters. But the ways that these forces interact to impact income have been difficult to track, especially at the level of the individual worker.
A team of scientists has now evaluated income volatility among those employed in an area with some of the largest, most valuable fisheries in the world—the waters surrounding the state of Alaska. The researchers—from the University of Washington, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game—analyzed nearly 30 years of revenue and permitting records for individuals fishing in Alaskan waters and tracked how their fishing choices, in terms of permits purchased and species caught, influenced their year-to-year income volatility.
Photo: David Castor/Wikimedia Commons (CC0)