The sound management of a fishery as a social engineering: applying Karl Popper's demarcation criterion to an Area 2 stock of Pacific halibut
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The Newfoundland fishery for Atlantic cod was once the largest cod fishery in the World. In the early 1990s this fishery formed part of an Atlantic Canadian groundfish fishery collapse that has become one of the World's most prominent case studies of failure in fisheries mangement. The proposition to be advanced in this paper is that this fishery collapse is attributable to the use of unsound inductive arguments that were over-reliant on 'facts' or data. Under Karl Popper's non-inductive theory of method the ability to understand and avoid a fishery collapse is not dependent on the certainty of the 'facts' or data, it is depedent on the soundness of the decisions that are taken. What is, or is not, a sound decision or sound argument is not a distinction discoverable 'naturalistically' by empirical science; rather, the distinction is based in logic. Sound management decisions require a critical or falsifiable view of science that has to be 'demarcated' from a verifiable and inductive view, two views illustrated in this paper by a singular 47 year data set of Pacific halibut. It is my prescriptive thesis that if the World's commercial fisheries are to realise a long-term sustainability they will need to be manged under a critical or falsifiable view of science in which a trial and error mangement is guided by rules of thumb with prior improbability. After all, Canada's inshore Maritime lobster fishery has been manged in this way for well over a century without collapse.