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Researchers - Guillermo (Ta) Herrera

Associate Professor of Economics
Bowdoin College

Featured researcher on MPBN’s “Desperate Alewives” documentary

What problem/s are you working to solve?
I’m interested in how to improve the use of natural resources, particularly fisheries. For a variety of reasons (most of which boil down to imperfect property rights and/or information), commercial fisheries in particular have a tendency toward overexploitation.

What progress are you making toward solutions?
The better we understand both the biological and human (“economic”) side of natural resource systems, the more effectively we can manage them, or adjust their “self-management” by a community of harvesters. My colleagues and I (both in SSI and elsewhere) have developed models that help us to better understand the behavior of these quite complex systems and give insights as to what type of management approach is likely to work best in different contexts.

How could your findings contribute to a more sustainable future in Maine and beyond?
I hope that my work – both theoretical and applied – will eventually lead to better management of resources. The benefits of improved management would be multifaceted – more income and employment, more robust resource stocks, more recreational and other non-extractive benefits.

Why did you decide to join SSI?
I have a great group of colleagues from across the science and social disciplines and across institutions (Bowdoin, Bates, and USM in particular). We identified an important and interesting resource system close to home that provides an interdisciplinary academic challenge, compelling material to bring into the classroom, and the possibility of improving real-world outcomes.

What’s the best part about collaborating on SSI research projects?
Working with people who bring different perspectives and expertise to the discussion. At times it seems like we speak different languages, but in general it is refreshing to approach an issue, or system, from a variety of perspectives.

Where’s your favorite place in Maine?
Merrymeeting Bay – an amazing mix of fresh water, constant tidal changes, and abundant wildlife (eagles, seals, striped bass, sturgeon, etc.).

What’s your ultimate Maine experience?
Catching a striped bass from a small boat on the lower Kennebec.

Mud season survival strategy?
I have big feet, so mud season doesn’t seem to bother me that much.

What sustains you?
Achieving a healthy balance – between the various facets of my work (SSI and other research projects, teaching) and also between work and other parts of life – spending time with my wife and two boys, competitive cycling, gardening, and travel.

Additional information on Ta and his SSI team

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