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The "best" use of natural resources -- using them where they are needed the most and can provide the greatest return to society with respect to economic, political, and environmental standards -- is a basic question facing our society. It is a question that has received more and more attention in recent years, as an acute awareness of ecological problems has developed in the industrialized portion of the world. The problem has also become more complex as more and more natural resources are subjected to more intensive multiple uses. Conflicts arise between the users of such resources when the actions of one user encroach upon the use of the resource by another. Usually such conflicts can only be resolved by limiting one or more uses. In the case of renewable natural resources, such as fisheries, forests, or populations of other wild animals, assuming there is more than one user, the primary problems are, first, what is the optimum annual yield and how do we harvest only that amount, and second, how to divide the annual yield or harvest of the resource among the alternative users. In the Great Lakes, there is a general recognition by fisheries managers that there is some optimum combination of commercial and sport fishing that would best utilize the productive capacity of the resource. However, at present no one can precisely document the social values, the ecological constraints and the management technology needed to precisely determine optimal management of Great Lakes fisheries.


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