Resource managers consider the entire ecosystem, including humans and natural elements, when making management decisions. By analyzing critical fishery management issues like the economic performance of catch share programs, marine spatial management options, and protected species bycatch reduction strategies, we are able to provide resource managers with additional information to make informed decisions when managing marine ecosystems, thus, helping to ensure the sustainability of marine resources.

Protected Species

Our protected species economic research includes protected species valuation studies, cost benefit analyses, and cost effectiveness analyses. Regulatory actions are required to have cost benefit analyses, and this research contributes to legislative and administrative mandates.

We are currently focused on conducting protected species valuation studies. These studies allow us to assess the national benefits derived from threatened and endangered marine species, including fish, sea turtles, marine mammals, and sea birds. Economic values for protected species can be used to assess the benefits obtained from conservation and recovery efforts and provide a useful benchmark for valuing protected species research and recovery efforts. We have published values for eight different marine species using a multi-species valuation framework and are currently estimating values for an additional eight species.

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Habitat economics assess the benefits and costs of habitat recovery and restoration programs and measures the effects of habitat loss and degradation. Habitat economics also helps develop inventories of the values of a particular type of habitat, including the scope and scale of the benefits provided by a habitat.

This information enables us to evaluate the costs and benefits as well as the cost effectiveness of future management options that may be considered for the purposes of protecting or restoring essential fish habitat.

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Marine Protected Area Economics Research

Marine protected areas conserve, manage, and protect a range of marine habitats in the United States and come in a variety of forms, including marine sanctuaries, estuarine research reserves, ocean parks, and marine wildlife refuges. They vary widely in purpose, legal authorities, agencies, management approaches, level of protection, and restrictions on human uses. We manage 87 percent of marine protected areas in U.S. waters, a total of 177.

To make the best possible management decisions, we assess societal preferences for site locations and allowable uses and conduct integrated and predictive modeling of fishermen’s spatial choice behavior. Our economics program contributes to marine spatial decisions by predicting the values and trade-offs associated with fishery management options that restrict allowable uses in designated areas. Coastal and marine spatial planning addresses various ocean management challenges while considering economic development and conservation.

These studies provide managers with:

  • Information on the benefits derived from current use patterns.

  • A clear understanding of how users will respond to changes in use patterns.

  • The benefits and trade-offs from changing allowable uses within an area.

Learn more about marine protected areas economics research