Costs and benefits of regulations

NOAA Fisheries estimates that Americans are willing to pay $4.38 billion annually for the recovery of the endangered North Atlantic right whale. In addition, this species helps support the whale watching industry that generated an estimated $2.3 billion in sales in this industry and across the broader economy in 2008. In 

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Cost-effectiveness of conservation strategiescomparison, the recovery plans for this species required restriction on the fishing and shipping industry at an annual cost of $30.2 million.

Successful recovery of endangered species may require a multi-pronged approach that includes both reducing the human induced mortality AND increasing the survival rates of the species. Studies conducted by NOAA Fisheries economists demonstrated that it is relatively inexpensive to increase the nesting beach hatchling survival of
Pacific leatherback sea turtles. The table below provides a cost comparison between protecting one adult equivalent sea turtle by reducing fishery interactions and achieving the same level of protection (one adult equivalent sea turtle) by increasing nesting beach survival rates.

To more effectively promote recovery, however, a complete strategy would focus on increasing survival throughout all life stages of a species and not a single life stage (here, hatchling survival). In the long run, full recovery of threatened and endangered species will result in less restrictive regulations on fisheries.

 

 Cost to Reduce
Fishery Interaction by
1 Adult Equivalent
Sea Turtle
Cost to Increase
Hatchling Survival by
1 Adult Equivalent
Sea Turtle
Return on Investment:
Increase Hatchling
Survival:Reduce
Fishery Interaction
California
drift gillnet
$205,396$1,558$132:$1
Hawaii
longline
$28,054$1,558$18:$1