Research Topic

The Economics of Protected Marine Species: Concepts in Research and Management

About this Research Topic

Protected marine species have populations that are depleted, decreasing, or are at-risk of extinction or local extirpation. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, a global environmental organization, lists approximately 1,200 marine species worldwide that are considered vulnerable, ...

Protected marine species have populations that are depleted, decreasing, or are at-risk of extinction or local extirpation. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, a global environmental organization, lists approximately 1,200 marine species worldwide that are considered vulnerable, threatened, or at-risk of extinction. Many are provided legal protection through national laws requiring research and management measures aimed at recovering and maintaining the species at a sustainable population level. Integral to the policy decision process involving the management and recovery of marine species is the consideration of trade-offs between the economic and ecological costs and benefits of protection. This suggests that economics, at its core the study of trade-offs, has a significant role.

In the U.S. a somewhat traditional use of economics in protected species research and management has involved cost minimization or cost-effectiveness analyses to help select or prioritize conservation actions. Economic research has also provided estimates of public non-market benefits of recovering species, which can be used in larger management frameworks such as ecosystem based management and coastal and marine spatial planning. Inherent in much of this research, however, are complex biological and ecological relationships in which varying degrees of scientific uncertainty are present. Addressing this type of uncertainty can affect the economic outcomes related to protected species. For example, recent work suggests that increasing scientific precision in biological sampling and models can greatly affect the magnitude of economic benefits to commercial fisheries, while other research suggests that public non-market benefits of species recovery are sensitive to uncertainty about baseline population estimates.

Previous research has illustrated the importance of understanding the biological, ecological, and economic aspects of protected species management and recovery. We propose this Research Topic as an opportunity to synthesize current protected marine species economic research, as well as expand the discussion on priorities, knowledge gaps, and present and future challenges associated with this research area. We welcome submissions on topics concerning the economics of protected marine species including, but not limited to, scientific uncertainty, improving decision-analytic frameworks (e.g. cost effectiveness, cost-benefit), the integration of biological, ecological, and economic models, the measurement and application of non-market values, spatial/regional issues, by-catch property rights, policy instruments and governance, and issues concerning critical habitat. We envisage a series of manuscripts that will bring together an array of prominent researchers and advance our understanding of the ecological and economic aspects of managing and recovering protected marine species.


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