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Alvarez, S., Solís, D., & Hwang, J. (2019). Modeling shellfish harvest policies for food safety: Wild oyster harvest restrictions to prevent foodborne Vibrio vulnificus. Food Policy, 83, 219–230.
Abstract: Vibrio vulnificus has been identified as one of the main causative agents of foodborne disease associated with shellfish consumption. Infections of V. vulnificus increase during the summer months due to higher densities of the bacteria in warmer water and inappropriate handling of shellfish. In Florida, the daily harvest period is regulated to control the length of time between shellfish harvest and processing, and this harvest period has been recently reduced during the summer months to decrease the risk of foodborne disease. Adoption of this public health policy can affect the profitability and economic sustainability of wild oyster harvesters, especially in resource-dependent coastal communities. This study develops a dynamic and stochastic bioeconomic model to assess the impact of this policy on fishers’ harvest and revenues, and weighs that impact against the policy’s potential public health benefits. Our results show that fishers will experience reduced harvests early in the season due to the shorter harvest hours, but this initial loss is partially recouped later in the season as harvests remain high for longer than they would have if the policy were not in place. This study highlights the relationship between food safety interventions and management of fishery resources, and provides a comprehensive framework for evaluating the costs and benefits associated with such interventions.