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Estimating the Economic Impact of the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area: Developing and Applying New Methods for Evaluating Spatially Complex Area Closures


Economists and biologists have recognized that spatial and temporal area-closures may provide an effective means of managing the impact that fisheries have on one another and upon threatened species. To date, however, little work has been done to estimate the economic impact of protected areas on commercial fishing. One significant protected area in the Bering Sea is the Steller sea lion Conservation Area (SCA). The benefits of the SCA consist of improvements to Steller sea lion populations as excluding commercial fishing leaves more prey for sea lions. The primary cost of the SCA is the potential reduction in profits that occurs as boats incur additional costs as they travel to more distant locations and/or experience lower levels of catch in alternative fishing areas. Estimating the economic impacts of the SCA thus requires explicit modeling of fishing location choice as location choice is the aspect of behavior that is directly affected. A substantial literature has developed over recent decades which explores the factors that influence location choice. This literature has utilized discrete choice econometric models to estimate the probability that fishers choose to fish within a specific area or zone. New protected areas will generally not conform to existing statistical areas, making analysis of the economic impacts of an area closure difficult. With our development of an improved discrete choice model, specifically designed to model fishing location choice, we are able to develop ex-ante and ex-post estimates of the economic impacts of the SCA upon the Bering Sea Pollock fishery. Here we do not present welfare estimates, but present estimation results and discuss future research. (Click here for paper)

Source: Haynie, A. and D. Layton. 2004. “Estimating the economic impact of the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area: developing and applying new methods for evaluating spatially complex area closures.” In: Proceedings of the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade: What are Responsible Fisheries? July 20-30, 2004, Tokyo, Japan. Corvallis, OR: International Institute for Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET).

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